Marketing B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

B2B hits its stride at Cannes Lions


By Penry Price | Vice President, Marketing Solutions

June 23, 2022 | 6 min read

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As Cannes Lions gets under way, LinkedIn’s vice-president of marketing solutions Penry Price says B2B creativity’s moment in the sun is finally here.

The time is now for B2B

The time is now for B2B

After a two-year hiatus, executives from across the globe will eagerly descend on the French Riviera for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to celebrate innovation in advertising and the creativity that moves the industry forward. Year after year, the world’s largest advertising festival places B2C at the center – until now.

At this year’s Festival, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky shared his vision for the industry. B2B brands power much of the world’s economy and, as the B2B space garners more attention, the advertising industry is ripe for a creative revolution. We partnered with YouGov to survey 1,600 senior B2B marketing decision-makers from around the globe and found that the majority (82%) believe that “creative confidence” (the ability to leverage your creativity to push the envelope with your campaigns) is on the rise.*

Gone are the days of jargon-filled slide decks and lengthy white papers. It’s time the industry realizes that B2B is so much more than what the world often gives it credit for – it is brilliant and bold, inspiring and creative. In fact, 81% of marketers believe B2B brands are increasingly producing creative campaigns that rival consumer brands, so our moment in the sun is upon us.

LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky delivers a keynote presentation at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

B2B creativity takes center stage

This year, the festival will debut the Creative B2B Lions – a new category supported by LinkedIn’s marketing think tank, the B2B Institute, that celebrates creativity and effectiveness in B2B marketing. The spotlight is on us, the unsung heroes of marketing, and our work to produce engaging campaigns infused with humility, empathy and emotion to better meet the revolution ahead of us.

It’s encouraging to see the data support this trend, as 69% of marketing leaders believe that B2B purchasing decisions are as emotionally driven as B2C purchasing decisions, while one-third recognize that creativity is essential to long-term brand building.

Here are a few ways we can help brands show up and show off their unique value as we celebrate the year’s best campaigns on the industry’s biggest stage.

Data-driven storytelling for a new era

We know it’s challenging to cut through the clutter. That’s why we introduced B2B Edge, a new consultancy through the B2B Institute, that relies on performance branding to help B2B companies optimize their brand strategies, transform how they go to market and maximize their profits using academic research and LinkedIn’s first-party data.

This is just the beginning, as nine out of 10 marketers recognize that brand building is just as important to driving long-term revenue growth in B2B as consumer marketing, proving that B2B has staying power.

Alternative signals as differentiators

As B2B marketers, we can’t rely on the digital tools that were meant for B2C to help us hit the mark, since only 5% of buyers are in-market at any given time. For too long we have been tasked to leverage alternative signals like consumer identity and social identity, which were built to help B2C businesses reach their target audiences, to target effectively. Now, we’re counting on new tools and doubling down on those that were purpose-built for B2B, like Group Identity for B2B, to reach the right audiences at the right time.

We can also use additional resources to help us zero in on buyers that are in-market. Buyer intent data – which are digital signals like social likes/shares, web visits and clicks and professional identity – are a new way of thinking about segmentation that builds anonymous groups based on data points, like role, function, and company. When harnessed consistently, buyer intent and professional identity represent outsized opportunities for us to gain a competitive advantage from campaign creative to ad targeting.

Well-earned prestige for a new era

It’s about time that the new Creative B2B Lions gives this emerging marketing data its place in the sun. While it might not power the winning campaigns on the Croisette this year, this data will surely be the lifeblood of B2B since its e-commerce revenue is expected to double to nearly $21tn by 2027 as the business moves online.

The time is now for B2B and I couldn’t be more excited to stand alongside my peers and chart a new path using data as our guide. Our time to shine at Cannes is just the beginning and I encourage you to use this moment as a catalyst to infuse your campaigns with the creativity needed to reach the current and future buyers that will move our businesses forward.

Penry Price is vice-president of marketing solutions at LinkedIn.

*Methodology: LinkedIn commissioned YouGov to survey 1,600 senior B2B marketing decision makers in the US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, UAE, KSA, Brazil, Australia, India and Singapore during April 28 to May 25, 2022. The research was conducted online.

Marketing B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

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