In the early days of building a strategy, I’ve been known to adopt some of the personality traits of the common magpie; I see something shiny and I want it.
Except instead of stealing a brooch or newly minted coin, I’m a collector of marketing channels.
Sure, we’ll have a blog. And of course we’ll post on LinkedIn. But what about Twitch? Podcasts? A little bit of out-of-home advertising? The options are limitless AND energising.
But adopting a scatter-gun approach – trying to be everywhere at once – is just as effective as trying to be everything to everyone. Not at all.
Instead I like to choose a primary, usually more conventional, channel – where I know I can deliver a ton of value quickly to an audience already there – and a more experimental, secondary channel where I can perhaps push our creativity little. I also try and look for somewhere none of my competitors are currently occupying.
“Isn’t that just a waste of time, Jason? No B2B buyers are going to be spending time on TikTok/Twitch/YouTube!”
Wrong. Of course they are! Where do you think these folk spend their downtime? These platforms may not be the right medium to drop some heavy product marketing material, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to entertain your audience.
And THAT’S what most B2B brands are missing in their strategy.
Below I’ve dropped some of the most under-utilised channels out there and some examples of companies who are killing it.
Recently I included a new field on the forms from my website which asks “how did you hear about us?” Of the few dozen responses I looked at before writing this email, almost 70% give some version of word-of-mouth or referral.
Most of us are tasked with generating leads so we optimise for channels that allow us to go and get them – usually paid advertising driving traffic to a registration wall requiring someone to drop their email address in exchange for whatever.
But what if changed the goalposts? What if our mission was to “be memorable” or “give someone a reason to recommend us”? What if we optimised for generating word-of-mouth?
Our campaigns would look very different. And probably more interesting to boot.
COVID has levelled the playing field in B2B. The company that will win isn’t the one that can afford the largest and sparkliest trade show booth; it’s the one that can use digital channels creatively to capture eyeballs and start up a direct conversation. Both during work hours and out. And Twitch can help you do that.
There’s ample opportunity to get creative. Here are some quick-fire ideas:
- Host an impromptu discussion with your CEO on the platform about some breaking news in your industry, positioning yourself the centre of the conversation.
- Run through a live customer onboarding with an actual live customer to show how quick it is to get up and running with your product.
- Use Twitch as an impromptu CS channel, answering questions in real-time from your audience on how to get the most out of the product.
Or do what MongoDB has done and show how your product can be used by creating a proof-of-concept live on-air.
One of my major gripes is when people describe B2B buying as ’emotionless’ – as if buyers are purely driven by feature sets and pricing structures. This just isn’t true and I think these folk mistake ’emotion’ for ‘impulse’.
Will someone read a tweet from a B2B brand and hand over their credit card details like it was a pair of jeans? No, of course not. Will they want to be 100% in their decision before signing on for a product that costs thousands of dollars and affects the lives of a bunch of their colleagues?
You’re damn right they will. And one of the ways to establish this credibility is working with independent influencers.
Where do you get started? Well, I just recorded an interview with the wonderful Alicia Russell – an expert in B2B influencer marketing – that you can check out here.
#4. OOH (Out-of-Home) Advertising
Who doesn’t love a good billboard, right?
Seriously, this is a speciality play and not something I’d necessarily buy into as a permanent fixture in my arsenal of marketing tools. BUT in specific cases, some good old-fashioned, traditional out-of-home advertising can be super effective.
Perhaps you have a proposition you want to target at a highly localised set of prospective customers, like commuters on their way to the financial district of a major city? Or you have a major launch or rebrand you wish to compliment your digital push with something ‘in the real world’?
Check out this example from IFS, who took over the faces of a bunch of iconic buildings around the world to support its rebrand.
I’ve even seen some companies leverage OOH advertising simply to generate some assets that can be used on social media or in decks, reinforcing the perception perception it is serious player.
#5. Branded Video Content
Did you ever watch the TV show “How It’s Made?”
For the uninitiated, the 400+ episode series revealed how simple everyday objects are created. Coloured pencils, bowling balls, sugar, police badges, marble sinks… the list goes on and on.
I’ve always loved the concept of B2B companies lifting the lid on how they build their products or run their companies through branded video – content that is not overly promotional (if at all) but still shares the mission, values or products and services.
This can be as simple as a ‘home movie’ shot entirely in-house and pumped out across owned channels – think Rise At Seven’s ‘The Sauce’ or The DailyGoat – or even going as far as a legit television show on a major network, like what Shopify did with ‘I Quit’.
What makes these examples work is that they’re authentic, story-led and, above all else, entertaining. That’s the key.
Expect the lines to continue to blur between how we shop personally and professionally. As buyers get younger – 74% of 21-40-year-olds working in B2B now have influence on which vendors they choose – they will expect brands to balance education vs. entertainment in their campaigns and show up where they’re spending time – which isn’t always downloading white papers.