How to Do B2B Marketing Right

#KidsExplainData Won the Hearts (And Minds) of the LinkedIn Marketing Team

September 11, 2018


Often the boldest campaigns we see on social media come from consumer brands. With big budgets and flashy products to peddle, it’s no wonder they can be so creative!

But now more than ever, B2B brands are giving B2C counterparts a run for their money. And they’re doing it with a level of skill that’s truly impressive.

So when we see a B2B campaign that inspires us, we feel it’s only right if we share it with the class.

That’s where Tableau’s latest campaign, #KidsExplainData, comes in. The Seattle-based software company created a show-stopping video series that I came across in the LinkedIn feed several weeks ago. It was everything a B2B campaign should be: funny, emotive, relatable and compelling.

The concept? Well, kids explaining data, of course. Children, many of whom were kids of Tableau employees (hello, employee advocacy!) sat around a table with Tableau CMO Elissa Fink to talk about clean data, data analytics and more. The result was nothing short of delightful.

Take a look for yourself:

The takeaway? “Kids want things to be straightforward and fun.” Like data analytics. Turns out, Tableau’s product offering helps make data more straightforward.

When first I saw the video, I immediately sent it to our Marketing & Communications team at LinkedIn.

And the enthused responses from my colleagues included:

“This is really great. Definitely an example of human emotion in marketing. Thanks for sharing!”
“Really cool! Love the hashtag and also the competition angle to encourage people to share the gifs they’ve created.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Tableau nailed the execution of this campaign and inspired many of LinkedIn’s own B2B marketers in the process.

At this point, I just had to know more about #KidsExplainData. So I reached out to Tableau’s Andrew Grinaker, one of the minds behind the campaign. And he graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions.

Read on for a full transcript of our interview, where Andrew and I explore the business opportunity that #KidsExplainData serves, the logistics behind bringing the campaign to life and everything in between.


LinkedIn: Andrew, I'd love it if you could tell us a little more about your role at Tableau and what your day-to-day looks like.

Andrew: I am an integrated marketing lead. Within Tableau we have three or four integrated marketing leads that are assigned to different campaigns or different audience types. And my role specifically is to develop the strategy, to develop who that target audience is that we’re going after. I’ll ask: What does that messaging look like?  What does the creative look like?

In a nutshell, I serve as kind of a quarterback of the campaign -- making sure that we have all of the right team members involved. I make sure that we have clearly kicked off and briefed the creative team. That we have talked extensively with the media team to understand what strategies we want to go after and what our goals are before we bring a campaign to life and into market. Someone that can look both at the micro and macro levels of a project and help bring it to life.

LinkedIn: That’s super helpful.  It sounds like you’re a dot connector -- you’re able to take these really complex problems and condense them to produce something cool like #KidsExplainData.

Andrew: Yeah. And in the case of #KidsExplainData, our goal was to explore how we might increase overall brand awareness and engagement. Once we identified that core objective, we started to explore how we could achieve our goals.

I have worked on awareness campaigns for AT&T, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and other brands where it is clear where the awareness opportunity is. With Tableau, it is a more unique situation. We are well known in our industry, but those that may not be as familiar with analytics or BI as a whole may not be familiar with us. It makes it more difficult to find “the hook” or the right messaging to bring forward. You are not only raising awareness of the brand but the industry as a whole. Knowing we had this challenge, we started to explore different concepts and one of those was our #KidsExplainData idea.

LinkedIn: I love how you mentioned that you’re starting with objectives and figuring out what you want your campaign to do for your business before you arrive at a concept. So now that you’ve level set as to what you want your campaign to drive for the business, how did you and your team get this idea around #KidsExplainData? Talk me through that process.

Andrew: We had recently launched a new product within Tableau called Tableau Prep, which is a data prep product. There was a lot of terminology and vernacular within data prep that we were trying to unpack. I had this idea like “Hey, it would be funny if we had kids talk about some of this terminology.”

But the more we started to explore our idea, we found a greater opportunity to bring this up a level and talk about data in general. We pivoted and tried to look at moments in a child’s life that have parallels to data. For example, within the data prep space, people have problems doing analysis with dirty data. So there’s kind of this dirty vs. clean scenario we could play off of. We asked the kids “Do you like dirty or clean? Do you like your room clean or messy?” We then captured those moments from the kids and closed the video with short, engaging copy that connected our viewers back to data.

LinkedIn: You mentioned the different levels of socialization you had to go through within the organization to get this across the board. And I think we can all agree that #KidsExplainData isn’t necessarily your average B2B marketing campaign. So, I’m curious to understand how you got buy-in across the organization to go out on a ledge and try something different?

Andrew: I think it is first making sure that the idea we are trying to present does have that linear connection to what our brand principles are. And at Tableau we have a transparent and lighthearted view of ourselves, so we really try to bring that forward in everything we do. We are also trying to connect everything we do with our mission statement of “helping people see and understand data.”

Knowing the idea connected with our brand principles and missions statement, I think it was natural for our marketing leaders to encourage this idea. But it’s also making sure you communicate to them how you’re going to pull this off. Do we have the immediate budget for it? What vendor are we going to use in order to shoot this?

It’s making sure that when I do come to the table with an idea, it isn’t just a slide deck with a couple of bullet points. Instead, it was “Hey, here’s the idea, here is the impact to the internal team, and then here’s how much it’s going to cost and the expected outcome.”

LinkedIn: Got it. So let’s dive a little bit deeper into the actual video. I think it’s great that you chose video to tell this story. You could have done it in a blog post. You could have done it in a webinar or some other more traditional format. Why was video the right medium for #KidsExplainData?

Andrew: There are a couple of factors on why we chose video. For one, we felt like our idea really wasn’t going to come to life without that video format. And we’ve also leveraged some gifs within the campaign to capture the essence of the kids. We knew needed to capture that emotion on video and within some of these other creative formats.

If our goal would have been more lead gen-focused or maybe further down the funnel, then we may have looked at a different format to try to bring this to life. But because we are trying to not only introduce people to the brand but reengage them, we knew that video was a format that was going to stop them in the feed on social media. To get someone to stop scrolling is really hard. And so we knew that in order to get someone to pay attention, we needed to have high level, engaging content that users wanted to consume.

LinkedIn: We’d love to understand the various components of the campaign. I mean, there are obviously digital elements. But I imagine there was some kind of PR push? How did you identify what the different components were going to be and how did you then activate on them and make them work together?

Andrew: With this campaign, we wanted to keep it very simple, because ultimately we’re trying to get people to interact with the brand. It is important to remember what the objective of this campaign was – it was truly an exercise in branding and awareness and engaging people in an authentic way.

Of course, once people interact with our campaign, we could retarget them and give them some more product-specific messages later on, but again we really wanted to keep it simple.

Finally, we tapped into our Tableau community. Fortunately, we have a very strong community that desires to engage with us. With #KidsExplainData, we created a GIF contest where we released a handful of GIFs featuring the best moments of surprise, astonishment, happiness from the kids. Then we asked our community to create their own -- caption their own GIFs using the templates.

LinkedIn: That’s great! So that’s really all the questions I had. If you have anything else you want to share with us before we wrap up today, feel free to do so.

Andrew: The one thing that is missed with our Kids videos is the woman moderating. That is our Chief Marketing Officer, Elissa Fink and she does a fantastic job of helping the kids -- helping lead them into some of these moments and really interacting with them. There were some people who aren’t familiar with Tableau that have asked “Oh, who’s the actress?” or “Who’s the person that helped bring this to life?” and it’s been Elissa. I think it speaks again to what our brand is about and the fact that we want to try to be as authentic and transparent as possible.

LinkedIn: Absolutely. And I think there is sort of that employee activation component that is really well served by having your CMO as one of the stars of this video. So, I think that was a very intelligent decision for your team and one that really paid off.

Andrew: We are really excited about it.


And we’re really excited about it, too!

You see, B2B marketers have a unique challenge. As individuals tasked with marketing complex products like software or professional services, we must not only explain WHAT our product does (and the value it can create for businesses), but we must also be as funny, quick-witted and culturally relevant as the best of them.

With its hilarious GIFs and adorable roundtable discussions, #KidsExplainData checks all of the boxes for a campaign that people, not just B2B buyers, will love.

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