January 17, 2018 | Article | by Robin Bectel | Branding
Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
When you work in B2B marketing, the opportunity to be creative has traditionally been elusive. Not always, certainly, but for many years across most B2B technology companies, it was seen as unneeded and inappropriate to use creative tactics, outside of advertising, to reach customer targets. B2B customers typically want facts and proof points, not glitz and fun.
Today, however, creativity in the form of social stunts, event activations and other tactics, is taking hold across the B2B technology sphere, which is requiring marketers to approach their planning with a fresh perspective. Where do you start with being more creative? Here are some quick ways to incorporate more creative thinking into your planning.
Do some mind mapping
Grab some colored markers and create a mind map of your goals and then lead your team through an exercise to consider all the ways you might go after that goal. Give your team some new suggestions to consider – like advertising, stunts, big thinking, social, or food – and see where the discussion goes.
Ask your team a broad question
“If I could do anything I want to highlight my brand it would be XXXX.” Encourage them to shoot sky-high. Maybe you want to see your brand’s name in lights on the Empire State Building. Maybe you want to be on Good Morning America. Maybe you want to win a killer award or be called the most innovative company of the decade. Start with the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and work backward. One client had the BHAG to win the top spot in a prestigious analyst report. After some creative brainstorming, they came up with the idea to simply hire the analyst who wrote the last report to guide them through the process. They did just that and it worked like a charm. And, since they got a large percentage of their customer leads through analyst referrals, they felt it checked off the ROI requirements nicely. Don’t be afraid to think big.
Tell your team they have to 15 minutes to shout out the 100 craziest ideas they have to reach a goal. You will be amazed at what comes out and how much fun the team has taking a different approach. This is as much about team building as it is about planning.
Consider other points of view
Ask each team member to think of how different types of marketers/communicators would look at a problem. Let’s say you want to increase your brand recognition using an upcoming event. Rather than thinking of what you might typically do at this event in the B2B world, ask your team to brainstorm how a consumer marketer might look at an event in their world. Would they immediately think of getting a celebrity endorser or speaker? Maybe they would have a fun way to draw people in, like giving out fancy drinks that play off your brand name. Would they stage a flash mob outside the event doors to highlight your brand? Would they ride into the event on a motorcycle and loud music, before taking the stage? These may not be typical at a B2B event but I’ve seen each of them done and they can go a long way to creating some buzz.
It goes without saying that you should not get too distracted by the shiny object. You need to make sure the creative thinking nets a return in meeting your goals. Set reasonable expectations and help guide everyone through the idea that you need to experiment with your marketing to get breakthrough results. If you can show that the creativity moved the needle, everyone will be happy to continue.