5 Brilliant B2B Marketing Campaigns that Rocked 2015

November 16, 2015

Jason Miller Photography

B2B marketing has come a long way since the days of bland whitepapers and personality-free reports. Marketers have finally realized that “professional” doesn’t have to mean “dull.” We’re starting to see innovative B2B marketing efforts that borrow from B2C’s creativity and authenticity, energizing the content while still keeping the informative approach B2B audiences expect.

Bringing personality to marketing is a subject close to my heart. I believe that injecting entertainment and inspiration into information is the way forward for our profession.

Here are five characteristics of outstanding B2B marketing campaigns, and five brands that brought these characteristics to life.

  1. Personality

Lead MD, Monsters of Funnel eBook

I’m a big fan of bringing rock and roll swagger to marketing content. For their latest eBook, LeadMD went all out with their theme. The design aesthetic extends to the website, the trailer they produced to promote the eBook, and the illustrations of each influencer (they gave Matt Heinz a Mohawk. That’s just genius). Even the landing page continues to the theme: The placeholder text for their lead capture form lists the name as “Gene Simmons” and the occupation as “KISS Army.”

Once you get past the smoke machines and the light show, the eBook follows through with the substance to back up the personality on display. LeadMD supported the eBook release with solid strategy, too. They included marketing influencers to add credibility. They listed the participants’ twitter handles and encouraged participation with the hashtag #MOF. And they cross-promoted the eBook by repurposing content into a series of blog posts.

By combining solid content with a tactful strategy and a heaping helping of personality, LeadMD made sure Monsters of Funnel would rise above the noise.

  1. Strategy

Workfront, LinkedIn Lead Accelerator Campaign

Workfront is a cloud-based Enterprise Work Management Solution. The organization has the long sales cycle typical of its offering, so a nurture campaign is a natural fit for guiding buyers through the process. But with over 96% of Workfront’s website traffic leaving without converting, Workfront had to use serious strategy to keep their solution in front of potential buyers.

Workfront used LinkedIn Lead Accelerator for retargeting. They were able to identify three audience segments in their anonymous traffic: IT specialists, non-IT visitors, and marketers. They nurtured each audience with unique content delivered via LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Facebook newsfeed ads, and display ads.

Each audience saw a completely different campaign tailored to their interests, with content following a logical progression to customized CTAs. Workfront used Full-Funnel Analytics to track the success of each nurture track, making adjustments to optimize throughout.

Workfront’s strategy enabled them to generate over 600 leads in a three-month period, all from traffic that would otherwise have been one-and-gone.

  1. Authenticity

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Attention is a Currency

In the B2C world, there are plenty of brands that earn consumers’ attention by keeping it extra real. Think of the charity work TOMS shoes does, or Always’ tear-jerking #LikeAGirl campaign. At LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, we wanted to take that kind of heart-on-your-sleeve authenticity and say something truly meaningful about marketing.

The Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis gave us a no-BS, heartfelt manifesto about life in the digital age, humanity, and marketing. Instead of polishing it up with pristine stock photos, we enlisted Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid for illustrations that matched the message.

The result is a striking collaboration that, in my opinion, is more art than content. Brian and Hugh aimed to say something substantive and they didn’t mince words or dilute the message to be more palatable to a B2B audience.

  1. Humor

Cisco, Fast Technology and the Slow Waiter

When you hear that an industry giant like Cisco invited technology leaders for a series of video interviews, it’s easy to imagine something traditional, safe, and dull.

Fortunately, Cisco pushed the envelope. Each three-minute video takes place in a restaurant, with the tech leader interviewed by the Slow Waiter, a clueless average guy. The waiter makes the interviews comedic and at times absurd, with shenanigans from asking non sequitur questions to trying to borrow a pen from the interviewee.

The tech leaders play along with the gag, showing a more human side than they would in a strictly informative video. But they also manage to get across a huge amount of technical information in between the laughs.

This video series is almost everything B2B content should be: It’s informative, it’s entertaining, and it humanizes Cisco’s brand.

  1. Spectacle

GE, Brilliant Machines Rock

GE’s Brilliant Machines campaign is all about boosting the awareness of what they call the “Industrial Internet;” that is, the heavy duty computers and machines that toil away behind the scenes to make the modern world work. While this technology is vital to the way we live, it’s decidedly less sexy than, say, the new iPhone.

GE couldn’t take all of Manhattan to see the GE-constructed power plant that produces 1/5th of the Island’s electricity, but they could use the electricity to bring Manhattanites something extremely cool. GE sponsored a concert in Union Square featuring German band Compressorhead, a literally “heavy metal” trio of music-playing robots:

GE built a tour bus for Compressorhead to arrive on the scene in style, and promoted the event with interactive posters that allowed commuters to plug in headphones for a sneak preview of the music. During the event, GE provided free Wi-Fi and charging stations, and encouraged concertgoers to add to a curated Spotify playlist of robot-centric music.

While most of us can’t even dream of the budget GE used to create and promote the concert, it’s a great example of promoting an abstract, industrial business solution in a decidedly awesome way.

B2B marketers, we have let B2C people have all the fun for far too long. Let’s show some personality, inject humor, say something authentic, or even indulge in a little spectacle.

Keep on rocking in the B2B marketing world with Creating Your First Big Rock: A Step by Step Guide for Marquee Content.