In the beginning, there were newspaper ads, big and bold. Then, radio spots; after that, television commercials. Now, the internet and smartphones … and whatever is to come.
As new channels for reaching an ever-growing audience appear, the world of marketing is becoming increasingly complex and competitive as innumerable voices vie for attention.
This challenge is especially daunting for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), which have fewer resources than their larger competitors and need to get creative to remain ahead of the curve and generate leads.
Further complicating things? Having to approach this challenge as a B2B marketer while the line between B2B and B2C marketing blurs.
For software vendors, successful B2B marketing requires creative lead generation campaigns. Without disruptive thinking, you’ll miss out on generating new leads, promoting brand awareness, and nurturing your customer relationships. You run the risk of falling behind and eventually becoming unknown.
Don’t panic, though. We’re here to help.
5 creative lead generation campaigns to crank up your B2B marketing
According to Salesforce, when shopping for their business, more than 8 out of 10 business consumers want the same experience they get when buying for themselves.
This means that the B2B marketing experience is looking more and more like the B2C experience to give corporate customers what they want. If you don’t adjust your marketing efforts accordingly, you won’t be able to compete.
While several of the examples below come from B2C or blended companies, all are applicable to a strictly B2B business model. We’ll take a look at what each company did and what you can do to jumpstart your own creative lead generation campaign brainstorming.
1. Use customer feedback to create marketing material
What they did: Marketing automation platform MailChimp noticed a large number of their leads were confused by the company’s name and how it related to marketing automation. They decided to craft a marketing campaign around this confusion, incorporating a mispronunciation of their name into their ads. Consumers picked up on that and began generating memes about #mailkimp.
Merchandising with Mailkimp (Source)
MailChimp took things a step further and went on to release a series of videos with increasingly bizarre variations (such as KaleLimp).
The company listened to feedback, and crafted a campaign based on a noticeable trend. Ultimately, this helped them develop a memorable brand identity. When it came time for companies to select a marketing automation platform, MailChimp was able to generate more leads as a result of this brand recognition.
What you should do: Whether your customer feedback is about something simple such as the name of your company or something more substantial such as the efficacy of your product itself, it’s important to listen to all of it. It’s also important to let customers and potential leads know when you make improvements or course corrections. This can be as small as announcing it in email blasts or a post on your website.
According to Bizibl, 95% of potential leads lose trust when you don’t have a balance of negative and positive feedback on your site. By using negative/constructive reviews—and your responses to them—to generate marketing material, it shows potential leads that you’re honest, attentive, and willing to treat your customers as partners.
2. Develop a mobile-specific campaign
What they did: When IKEA came out with their IKEA Place App, it revolutionized B2C marketing by letting customers use their smartphones to visualize what a particular piece of furniture would look like in their actual living space.
The idea behind it was simple: If potential customers could visualize what their house would look like with IKEA products, they would be more likely to actually buy the furniture.
What you should do: According to a Gartner survey*, 52% of buyers say that free trials are important when deciding what software to pursue. The number climbs to 58% when discussing demonstrations.
Providing such content in the form of a mobile app allows potential leads to better determine if your product is right for them by letting them visualize themselves working with your software. It also lets them do so from their phones, where SMB owners are making more and more of their business choices.
You can also use a mobile campaign to provide location-specific notifications and content. This creates a personalized touch that demonstrates your awareness of potential leads and what matters to them.
3. Create original videos (or partner with someone who does)
What they did: Kruzgesagt is a YouTube channel that explains complex concepts in entertaining, easy-to-follow videos. Brilliant.org is an online learning platform that provides instruction on topics, ranging from the scientific to the professional.
The two recently partnered on a series of Kruzgesagt videos on topics that correspond with some of Brilliant’s course offerings, which reached Kruzgesagt’s 7 million subscribers. The only reference to Brilliant’s involvement was a brief sponsorship clip and a call to action (CTA) at the end of the videos.
What you should do: Search for content creators on YouTube or Vimeo who feature content that you connect with and cover topics that are of interest to your market. While it’s always important to keep your audience in mind, in this case it’s essential.
As a B2B marketer, your videos should be geared toward individuals who work with a company’s decision-makers and will help influence their decision. This way, when it comes time to change or invest in software, your name is recognizable. Often, brand recognition makes all the difference in lead generation.
4. Personalize your CTA
What they did: Humboldt County implemented a creative CTA designed to pull in leads. They created a short quiz that simply asks site visitors what type of experience they’re looking for.
Based on user response, the website provides a curated offering for their users, which can lead to a much higher conversion rate.
What you should do: Not only does a quiz for a CTA create an experience that users can shape to match what they’re looking for, it also shows the versatility of what you have to offer and your brand’s distinct personality.
The quiz on your own site doesn’t have to be complex—Humboldt’s isn’t. But it should conclude by showing the user the best version of your product for them (how it meets their specific needs) and entice them to stay on your site longer, both of which help generate leads.
5. Engage your community with experiential marketing
What they did: One Monday, as part of their “Surprisingly Painless” campaign, Esurance set up pop-up wellness fairs in the business districts of ten cities.
The fairs included makeovers, coffee and pastries, and—in some spots—playtime with adoptable puppies.
The fluffiest kind of experiential marketing (Source)
What you should do: This—a positive community impact—is incredibly important for SMB owners, who often need to treat the personal side of business as equally important to the financial side if they want to survive.
You can opt for the route that Esurance took and tie events in with your branding, or take a route that correlates to what your company actually does.
Say you sell cybersecurity software and have a slogan about customers resting easy when they use your product. Offering yoga classes is one way to go, or you could offer in-house self-defense classes to various businesses. Both provide a valuable community service that you can link to your product.
The primary focus in these scenarios (and whatever you come up with for your SMB) is engaging with your community to promote your brand while demonstrating that you care.
Use this checklist to evaluate your own lead generation ideas
There are a lot of ways to approach B2B marketing, especially as expectations shift towards a more B2C-esque experience.
As you strategize for your own creative lead generation campaign, ask the following five questions about each of your ideas:
*Gartner conducted this survey in 2016 among 508 U.S.-based organizations with more than 100 employees. The qualified respondents are decision-makers or have significant influence on the decisions related to purchasing technologies for their organization.