Let’s leave templated B2B marketing campaigns in 2021
Marketers can fall into tried and tested, often formulaic practices when it comes to B2B marketing. Emily Lowes, marketing manager at Earnest, explains why applying creativity and critical thinking might revive B2B strategies.
Earnest provides suggestions for how marketers can freshen up their approach to B2B marketing.
Most of the time, the key to starting a business is finding a gap in the market and creating a solution. And running a business means keeping up with the markets and adapting to any changes accordingly.
But marketing agencies operate a little differently - especially B2B marketing agencies. Some might think it simple good sense to manufacture a process that works and then sell it repeatedly to deliver results for different clients.
But this often means treading very murky waters. Selling templated campaigns to multiple clients might work for a short period of time, but there’s usually a hard limit to the time for which this approach will continue being successful. Here’s why.
Templates don’t work for account-based marketing
Account based marketing (ABM) is fast becoming one of the most important aspects of B2B. ABM is a focused approach where teams help clients target specific accounts, to turn them into customers.
Problems arise for agencies when there’s a lack of understanding regarding what ABM really means. It’s much more valuable than simply adding a line of personalization to an email that’s part of a nurture stream your writers have seen only a million times. ABM campaigns should look different every single time.
When you begin trying to create and sell a portfolio of templates, you slowly lose the ability (and possibly the desire) to create bespoke ABM campaigns. Instead, when reviewing a brief from the client, you’ll flick through your portfolio of campaigns and pick the one which aligns closest with the client’s desired outcome.
There can be exceptions to the rule, but these are few and far between, and shouldn’t be used as inspiration. Let’s say an agency exclusively works with healthcare businesses. It’s likely that most of their clients will be trying to solve similar problems, in which case, templates might work.
But it’s important to note that, even in this instance, there will be nuances in the challenges faced by the targeted companies. For example, will private healthcare providers have the same motivations (and be tackling the same problems) as the public? Perhaps not.
Prioritizing agency revenue almost always kills creativity
Bringing home the bacon for clients is important – ultimately their goal (and therefore, our goal) is to see a return on marketing investment. Of course, every for-profit organization should expect revenue to be a driving force in their decision-making process. But beware: agencies should think twice before putting their own revenue growth above the want to create solid campaigns.
B2B agencies are made up of creatives, writers, strategists, designers and client teams coming together to create content. Whether your selling point in the B2B market is your flair for creating a kicker strategy, or if it’s that you’re the best in the biz for writing a killer headline, the product you’re selling is most likely always going to be underpinned by creativity in some way or another.
Canva is a good example of this; the platform has become a useful creative tool for many businesses, but it’s at risk of becoming detrimental to the graphic design process. The overuse of (and perhaps overfamiliarity with) Canva means that the quality of content can suffer when it’s used by someone who lacks design knowledge.
Much like how Canva is killing the creative process for designers, templated campaigns are fast becoming a problem for authentic, engaging and meaningful marketing content. Writers and designers work at B2B marketing agencies because they want to create great work that helps businesses engage with brands. But they’ll quickly lose passion for the job when what they’re creating today is the same as yesterday (and the days before).
Templates take the fun out of B2B marketing
B2B marketing is often described as “dry” and “loveless” but if you’re doing it right, it can end up being pretty sexy. The main reason anyone pursues a career in marketing is because they want to create things that people want to engage with. And the main reason people hire agencies is because they want specialists to help them solve specific problems in the most appropriate way.
Making templated campaigns a priority for your marketing agency will only result in dissatisfied employees and unhappy clients. You’ll lose what makes you unique, clients won't get the bespoke campaigns they’re after and therefore they probably won’t see the best results.
So, let’s start the new year the right way – with creativity, critical thinking and a boatload of coffee.
Content by The Drum Network member:
Earnest is the award-winning B2B marketing agency that’s chasing out the humdrum in London and New York.Find out more