What B-to-B Marketers Can Learn from Super Bowl Advertisers
The Super Bowl is known as much for its groundbreaking ads as it is for football. The brands that choose to take the plunge and spend over $100,000 per second of advertising often push the creative limits to make those valuable marketing dollars count. While the Super Bowl ad season is dominated by consumer brands, b-to-b marketers should pay close attention to their b-to-c colleagues' strategies and tactics and apply the following principles to their own campaigns this year.
1.Take risks. Consumer brands seem much more willing to take risks and have the courage to fail, while b-to-b marketers tend to play it safe. Be bold; while consumer brands are risking a lot with edgy commercials during something as significant as the Super Bowl, the potential rewards can be worth it. Look at the Volvo Trucks Van Damme ad from last year that attracted attention for many reasons, one of which was how unique it was, especially for a b-to-b ad. Volvo reportedly spent $3 million on the ad, and it generated $175 million in revenue.
2. Don't blow your budget. Last year, Newcastle Brown Ale created a highly successful and clever YouTube video campaign that went viral, without spending the millions that many brands did on the Super Bowl. In fact, the lack of ad spend is what helped the campaign be so memorable. The right message targeted at the right audience can be as effective, if not more so, than a costly TV spot.
3. Tie your b-to-b brand to pop culture or current events. It is rare for b-to-b brands to tweet, blog, etc. about pop culture and tie it back to their brand or product. Consumer brands do this all the time, especially during the Super Bowl. Look at Radio Shack's 80's pop culture themed commercial last year for a fantastic example.
4. Be funny.The use of humor is also far too rare in b-to-b. When it happens, which is seldom, it really sets a company apart and gives it a personality. There are some great examples, like Cisco's Valentine's Day video to promote its $80,000 router. Funny, positive messaging is a great way to shed a rigid persona.
6. Tug at the heartstrings. Businesses are made up of people with feelings, so why not tap into these like consumer marketers do? In fact, according to a CEB report, b-to-b customers are more emotionally attached to their b-to-b vendors than consumers are to their brands. Emotional branding is the best way to capture the hearts and minds of the millennial generation, which doesn't respond to traditional marketing tools. Consumers need to feel aligned with brands in some way or the brand isn't authentic.
7. See the big picture. Digital is no longer an option in your marketing plan. Always try to tie your campaign back to a larger strategy that includes a digital component and some online activation. Consumers expect to find an online or mobile channel associated with any campaign they see on TV. Most television viewers are also second-screen viewers. Try to punctuate your ad dollars across platforms to ensure you grab as many opportunities to reach your customers as possible.
8. Get mobilized. Mobile is the fastest-growing market sector for advertisers. Don't forget that the majority of your audience will be on their smartphones at any given time. Make sure any call-to-action is mobile friendly by including eas- to-access hashtags and URLs. Try to explore new and clever ways to get your messaging out.
9. Think global, act local. B-to-b marketers can maximize their advertising dollars by creating Super Bowl themed offers through their local market affiliates. Is your hometown represented in this year's game? Make sure you capitalize on it. Localized and geo-targeted marketing can be very cost-effective tools to generate interest in your brand, without the big spend of a national campaign.
10. Keep the conversation going. As a brand selling to other brands, you hope your customers are engaged with you, but are you returning the favor? Make sure you are actively listening to conversations about your brand in social media and be proactive about your responsiveness. Learn to engage in real-time conversations, especially around big events like the Super Bowl, with relevant content and strong CTAs.
There will always be a place for tried-and-true marketing approaches in b-to-b, but to compete effectively for shrinking business budget dollars, playing it too safe won't work. While not every piece of advice on this list makes sense for every brand, b-to-b marketers who decide to forego their traditional approaches to advertising and take a cue from Super Bowl campaigns could reap some major rewards.