We previously shared a Skout blog exploring the convergence of B2B and B2C marketing and the need to apply a human-to-human ethos to business-to-business. As Alex quite rightly said (all the way back in 2018!), ‘As B2B marketing is about appealing to people in their professional lives, it’s easy to see why marketers might think about communicating to a business before an individual,’ but, ‘Ultimately, it’s a human that will make the buying decision, and that’s who a marketer needs to appeal to.’ This has only become more important for B2B brands as they look to effectively cut through the noise and make meaningful connections with their audiences. Pandemic B2B can be even trickier than previously.
The pandemic has further accelerated this coming together of B2B and B2C, and the need to communicate with individuals effectively and on a human level has been given new depth. As many of us made the quick transition to home working last March, our business and personal lives collided, and through the lens of a webcam we began to get more of a human insight into our co-workers, partners and clients – families, pets, home-schooling and all. It was a stark reminder that everyone was (and still is) in the same boat and doing the best they can in the circumstances.
This was a key talking point at The Drum B2B World Fest, and is something that, according to Victoria Morrisey, global marketing and brand director at Caterpillar, has made us more in-tune as marketers; “Before Covid, it was very easy to forget that the businesses we’re talking to are composed of real, live, thinking, feeling humans. Today, there’s a much wider recognition that we are all just real people with real complicated lives, doing work. Ironically, that’s exactly the sort of thing that makes us better and more empathetic marketers.” (You can watch the full ‘reclaiming and reinventing our humanity’ session here.)
As a result, 2020 saw some clever, creative, memorable – even humorous – B2B marketing campaigns. Business insurance provider, Hiscox continued its simple but effective ‘encourage courage’ campaign, which likened barcodes to small businesses – at first glance they all look similar but on closer inspection they’re all unique. Not only does the campaign highlight the need for specific, tailored business insurance, but it also celebrates individuality and courage – positive messaging and support that’s welcomed and appreciated through difficult times.
Another (very different) example comes from project management tool company, Monday.com. The video shows ‘Monday.com employee’, Joel, building a cookie machine to help motivate his colleagues when working remotely – complete a task to his satisfaction, and a cookie is dispensed from the confusing-looking contraption to reward his colleague. The video stands out for its fun, light-hearted nature and resonates with a huge proportion of its business audience as they adapt to the challenges of home working, while nicely showcasing Monday.com as an easy-to-use and effective collaboration platform for teams.
More empathy, understanding, and crucially – a human element – is something that we should continue to bring to our B2B marketing campaigns moving forward, pandemic and beyond. As B2B professionals, the sky is the limit – we don’t need to be viewed as B2C’s boring cousin. And, as B2B and B2C continue to merge, we look forward to seeing (and working on) even more innovative, engaging, and yes – even exciting! – B2B campaigns.