I feel very strongly about B2B creative. And when I say B2B creative, I’m really talking about ads.
What blows my mind about the current state of B2B advertising is that everyone is kind of doing the same thing. And look, to some degree, I get it. A lot of B2B brands prioritize the product above all else, meaning creativity, and the elements of fun, coolness, excitement, etc. kind of get left by the wayside.
It bugs me though because there’s a HUGE opportunity for pattern interruption by putting something completely different and interesting out there on your buyers’ social feeds. And yet…most B2B brands seem to be content with the same old, same old Boring 2 Boring advertisements.
You know what I mean. Those ads you scroll straight past on Twitter or LinkedIn without even giving them a second thought. Well actually, I guess you don’t know — you scroll right past them. And that’s my point. How can brands expect different results when they do the same thing as everyone else? No one is doing anything to cut through the noise and really disrupt the timeline.
Hence, why I’ve put together my 5 ways to make B2B creative that actually stands out and has an impact. For those DGMG U members who are more visual learners, you can get the short version in my video here. But there’s going to be a lot more depth and examples here. Let’s dive in.
It Has to Be Real
The #1 mistake I see with ads is they look like branded banners. It makes sense given that we’re B2B marketers. After all, we’re obsessed with our branding.
That’s all well and good on your website or stitched across the front of a Patagonia Q-zip. But when it comes to B2B ads, your usual branding is going to be white noise. If I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed and see what I know to be your logo or an image reminiscent of one of your usual pieces of content, I’m just going to keep scrolling.
Why? Because I assume it’s your usual content!
So you need to make it real. Don’t throw up some stock photo. If you want to promote a blog on marketing team collaboration, are you really going to use this image:
Hell no. Because no one buys that as real. That looks like the freeze frame they run the credits over at the end of a 90s sitcom. But seriously, you see an image like that and you know those people aren’t from the company running the ad. No one in marketing wears suits anymore. This isn’t Mad Men. Also is that Dave Franco on the right?? I digress…
But then you look at something like this ad Drift ran a while back for their video product:
Those are real people. That’s Caitlin and George. They both worked for Drift. Incidentally, George now works here. That’s the real Drift office and I guarantee you that photo wasn’t staged. Drift’s video team used to just go around taking photos of people as they worked, and plug them in where appropriate. That’s real marketing.
Make Raw Video Ads
Guess what? You don’t need to have a creative agency on retainer, or even an in-house video team. You can make a high quality, killer ad with something that you already own. Hint: it’s either in your pocket or in your hand right now. Yeah…it’s called an iPhone.
You might notice that the vast majority of my video content is filmed selfie style on my iPhone. Outside of my podcast recordings, there is very little that I film with the help of professional equipment.
I do that very deliberately. It’s so when you’re scrolling along on social, you see, up close and personal, my smiling face. Not some elaborate animation, just me, usually wandering outside. A true master of this is Casey Neistat, whom I’m sure you’ve seen or heard in some form or another. He’s a big selfie stick guy, and all of his videos have that raw, shaky camera quality to them as a result.
Check out this video he shoots entirely selfie style.
It’s intriguing. He writes the announcement on his hand. You see that on your feed, and you’re wondering, “oh wow, who’s this guy? What’s the special announcement?” It creates more intrigue than a highly manicured, well-polished video ever could.
Capture Attention in the First 3 Seconds
Social media advertising is a game of attention. EVERYONE on Twitter, LI, Insta, etc. wants your attention.
And you’re not just competing with other businesses. You’re competing with every influencer, content producer, media brand, and average joe online. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t a direct competitor, or even a business. Any content that takes eyeballs away from your content is bad news for you.
And since we have VERY low attention spans these days, you have to make your impact quickly with your ad. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to do this. Write an intriguing subject line, feature a funny gif or thumbnail, it doesn’t matter. Just something to capture attention and ensure your content gets a real look.
George was a master of capturing attention when he was promoting webinars or events at Drift. He would film a gif of himself like this…
…and the headline would be something like, “What made George literally spit out his coffee?”
It’s silly, yes, but it really does work. Something a little funny or absurd like that draws eyeballs and gets them to bite in those first 3 seconds. Then once they click, you unload the actual value and convince them to take the time to keep reading or watching.
Proof, Proof, Proof
Especially with ads, a lot of your audience is going to be cold leads. People who know absolutely nothing about your business. So you need to give them proof. There has to be a reason that they decide to engage with your ad out of all of the others. You need to show them that you’re the real deal.
There’s any number of ways you can do this:
Testimonials: What are your big name customers saying about you?
Social proof: What do the people have to say? The endorsement of someone unconnected to your business is worth more than your own promotion:
“Expert” Endorsement: My product is the best and the experts agree
That last one didn’t age as well, but at the time you can understand the appeal. Doctors are medical professionals. They advise me on my health, so if I’m going to smoke, Camels are the healthiest option.
There’s a million ways to go about proving your credibility. Just make sure you include some real, concrete evidence to bolster your ads.
*All examples above (minus the Camels one) are from Swipe File. Highly recommend checking the site out.
Sweat the Ad Copy
Fifth and final, sweat the ad copy. Don’t create a visually engaging ad that captures all this attention if you aren’t going to back it up with equally engaging copy.
If you dream up some incredible creative to help promote your new product, but then write: “Introducing our new product,” what was the point of all the effort? People will stop, look at your ad, then move on because the copy doesn’t match the creative.
Take that extra second to come up with a great headline to compliment the creative.
And if you want more of my marketing rants, sign up for my newsletter. Subscription link is embedded on my homepage here. Just enter your email and you’re good to go.
Finish the back half of the week strong.