Learn how to create B2B advertising that your customers will enjoy engaging with instead of scrolling past.
No one puts on their comfy pants, pops a bowl of popcorn and plops on their couch to settle in for a marathon of binge-watching B2B marketing videos. (Let’s face it, that will probably never happen.)
The issue with most bland B2B advertising is the goal isn’t to deliver value to the customer. Usually the goal is to fill 90 seconds with as many product or service details as possible. While that seems like the logical thing to do (after all, it’s you that’s paying for it), packing an ad with details is what’s good for you, not your customer.
If you simply switch your mindset and make the standard, “will our customers binge-watch this?” instead of “how many more things can we say in the last 10 seconds?” you’ll do something few brands do: empathize with and entertain your audience.
B2B marketing is usually boring because the people making it assume the audience is 100% engaged, pen and paper in hand – ready to take thorough notes.
It’s this hubris of attention assumption that leads to the perceived-logical conclusion, “if people are watching this 2 minute video, then then they want as many features and benefits as possible.” And if your audience were in Clockwork Orange-esque chairs with those eyelid opener things, this would be the best thing to do.
But they’re not.
Your audience is not even 80% engaged. Or 60%. In fact, the average retention rate for online video, according to Databox, is right around 30%.
My takeaway from that statistic is to fight for every single second of engagement through giving value to the viewer (ie. entertaining them), not packing it full of facts and figures.
Instead of assuming your audience cares, assume they don’t care. This assumption of disinterest will nudge your creative in a more entertaining and value-delivering direction. And a note on value: Value is not inserting “benefits” into your ad. Value is making your audience laugh, cry, get motivated – basically feel something. It’s not about you.
My final proof point on this matter is: name the last time you watched TV without scrolling your social feeds. Yes, even when you’re binge-watching something made to entertain you, you’re still not 100% engaged. Now what chance does your B2B ad have if that’s the case?
A great way to make your B2B ads binge-worthy is to avoid stuff people, in general, don’t care about. There’s no quicker way for someone to close your ad than to feature one or more things on this list.
Regarding the last item on this list, if more than 75% of your competitors are saying something, you should consider it “white noise” and not waste your time saying it. Most likely your prospects assume you do that thing everyone else does anyway.
While all of your customers show up at conferences speaking the same corporate, jargon-filled language you do, they don’t think in that language.
An easy way to test this is to think back to the last time you got drunk with a client – didn’t they drop their whole “disparate silos” speak and just talk like a human?
Speaking “corporate” requires a lot of brain power. Everyone does this to appear smarter than we are – but it doesn’t mean it’s effective at getting through to people. I would argue our greatest ads as a B2B advertiser ourselves are the ones I thought were way too silly, simple or stupid. They always win. Why?
Because of that 30% attention factor again. No one is paying full attention.
To understand sentence 2 you need to read it a couple of times to understand. To the 30%-paying-attention crowd, that sentence sounds like nothing because they aren’t going to read it again. It’s just white noise.
The next time you sit down to approve an ad, ask yourself: Is this written in “corporate”-speak or human-speak? Do you talk to your significant other like this? If not, have the team rewrite it!
So I’ve told you what not to do. From here on out let’s talk about what to do.
There certainly are different genres/formats for effective ads but in all my years of doing this, ads that fit in these categories are usually the most memorable and effective.
Think about Forrest Gump. At any point in that movie you’re laughing out loud, crying like a baby or absolutely amazed at the beautiful imagery. If your ad can draw on all three, you win the world. Here’s a P&G ad that features all three and was talked about for years.
The first 30 seconds are babies falling (funny as heck), the next minute is cinematic “trying harder” stuff, and the final 30 seconds tears your heart out.
Your ads don’t need to draw on all three categories but MUST have one. Period. End of story.
This is a very easy way of forcing you to think outside the box with your advertising.
Force yourself to not feature your office, factory, warehouse - or whatever your place of business looks like. Why?
When you feature your place of business you are inherently centering yourself over your audience. They do not care about what your place looks like, they care about theirs.
Another reason is it forces you into more human locations. Houses, parks, cars, airplanes, whatever! Since you don’t have your place of business in your ad you’ll automatically be 100% more interesting than your competitors that do.
When was the last time you loved something boring? When was the last time you hated something beautiful? These sentences don’t make sense because they violate what it means to be part of the human race.
So if people hate boring (by definition) and love beautiful things, why are we all pretending to be so professional all the time?
So many B2B brands think they don’t have permission to be cool. Or worse, they’re scared to be cool. But how is it that every B2B conference I’ve been to is filled with hilarious people who love afterparties the same as I do?
Your buyers are just the same as you. They are people pretending to hold it together - just like you. Just treat them like the people they really are, and you will win.