Audience Engagement Platforms
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Majority of B2B leaders globally say “creative confidence” is growing: LinkedIn research

“It certainly feels like creativity in B2B is finally having its moment.”

  • 81% of senior B2B marketers believe B2B brands are increasingly producing creative campaigns that rival consumer brands
  • Majority (89%) recognise that brand building is just as important to driving long-term revenue growth in B2B as it is in consumer marketing
  • But over three-quarters are concerned that the best talent in the industry is drawn to working in consumer marketing over B2B 

The majority (82%) of B2B marketing leaders globally say B2B “creative confidence” is growing, according to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and leading B2B advertising platform.

Marketers who believe B2B companies have become more confident with producing creative campaigns recognise that creativity is essential to long-term brand building (30%), and helps drive memorability amongst customers (27%), which is spurring them to reach new creative heights. 

The study of more than 1,600 B2B marketing leaders from across the globe, conducted ahead of the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, finds that B2B marketers in Brazil (95%), Australia (95%), India (94%) and the United Arab Emirates (94%) currently have the highest creative confidence.

With more than two thirds (69%) of B2B marketers agreeing that B2B purchasing decisions are just as emotionally driven as B2C, around two-fifths (39%) are increasingly harnessing storytelling, emotion and humour to help make their creative campaigns stick. The majority (81%) say that B2B brands are now producing creative campaigns that rival consumer brands.

B2B companies bolster brand building

B2B brands have traditionally prioritised performance marketing to boost short-term sales, but an industry-wide shift looks like it’s underway. The large majority (89%) of B2B marketing leaders recognise that brand building is just as important to driving long-term revenue growth in B2B as it is in consumer marketing. 8 in 10 B2B marketers now say they are planning to create campaigns that improve short-term performance marketing and long-term brand marketing results in the same period. 

This comes as a report from the B2B Institute, LinkedIn’s marketing think tank, and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia, finds that 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market to buy today. It’s therefore imperative that B2B brands create a memory link in buyers’ minds so that they are top of mind when the buyer is ready to make a purchase. 

Battle for creative talent in B2B 

More than half (56%) of B2B marketing leaders believe B2B marketing is more challenging than B2C. But despite the professional opportunity, 79% are concerned that the best talent in the industry is drawn to working in consumer marketing over B2B marketing. This comes as over half (57%) admit they are finding it challenging to recruit creative talent currently. 

B2B marketing leaders say innovation, customer insights, and data analytics are the top skills needed for B2B creativity today. Around half (49%) say fostering a strong creative output is largely reliant on diversity of experience within a team. And when it comes to agency partners specifically, diversity of skills (45%) and diversity of experience (45%) are deemed equally as important to fostering creative output. 

Tom Pepper, Senior Director, EMEA & LATAM, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, said: “Despite the current economic climate, B2B brands realise the importance of long-term brand building and are developing bolder creative that stays in the minds of our members so when they are in market to buy, those brands are front of mind. It’s positive to see creative confidence growing as companies move beyond reports and ebooks – which have long ruled in B2B advertising – to honing their brand marketing muscle, and we’re proud to support Cannes Lions on the new Creative B2B Lions to celebrate industry-leading work. By building strong brands and harnessing the engaged professional community on LinkedIn, B2B companies are generating long-term ROI for their campaigns and transforming the B2B space as we know it.”

Paul Hirsch, Creative B2B Lions Jury President, said: “For too long, B2B has been an often-overlooked part of the advertising landscape. With the news of this study and Cannes Lions expanding to include B2B as its own category, it certainly feels like creativity in B2B is finally having its moment. Although we have only recently started judging this year’s entry, I’m excited by what I’ve seen. As a first-time festival category, my hope is that the work we’ll award with Lions in a few weeks will justify the category optimism, inspire creatives, and embolden B2B marketers for years to come.

Kim Pedersen, Global Head of Sales and Marketing at Maersk, said: “For the past three years creativity has been a key driver in marketing at Maersk in building our brand. Today it is seen as an absolute game-changer and we have strong and measurable indicators, not only on top-level growth, but also on reputation score and brand impact, that this strategy is working. And it is all rooted in the belief that we are not working with B2C, nor B2B, but rather B2P, business-to-people.”

Jann Schwarz, Global Head of the B2B Institute at LinkedIn, said: “A strong brand is a force multiplier for any business and is the key to pricing power, which is more important than ever in a high-inflation economy. This is true for all businesses, whether they are B2B or B2C, so it’s great to see B2B marketers starting to define their promise and brand story. Our consultancy program B2B Edge works with the biggest B2B brands in the world to demonstrate that brand-building cuts the cost of performance advertising and puts businesses on a stronger footing for the long-term.” 

Pip Hulbert, CEO, Wunderman Thompson UK, said: “It’s encouraging to see a new wave of creative bravery coming from B2B brands, something that we applaud and encourage for our own B2B clients at Wunderman Thompson. For too long B2B has been the reserve of the rational, but that kind of thinking is irrational. B2B marketers are humans too. Connecting emotionally is the key to growth and long-term brand building in B2B as it is in B2C, with emotive campaigns netting out as 7 times more effective than rational campaigns. We’ve proven through our proprietary research, Inspire B2B, which found that B2B brands with inspiring campaigns are twice as likely to be remembered when buyers are in market, and more than five times more likely to be strongly considered by buyers.”

Kirsty Waller, Vice President, Customer Marketing, UK & Ireland, at Sage, said: “How businesses engage with their customers has changed significantly over the past two years. We’re seeing many customers say goodbye to traditional ways of marketing and replace them with showcasing the real faces of their business using channels that provide high levels of engagement and interaction. Business decisions on the surface may seem rationally driven but there is still an emotional element to the decisions people make at work. People buy from people and brands they can relate to and can engage with. This insight has played a key role in our recent brand refresh and creative campaigns. We’ve used real customers and real voices to show that Sage is there to help, not only from a technology perspective, but also from a human touch and human expertise perspective. It’s more human to human than business to business.”

Helping B2B brands unleash creative campaigns with ease

To help B2B brands unleash their creativity, LinkedIn is launching a new brand campaign, and products, services and resources to support marketers:

  • LinkedIn champions B2B advertising in new brand campaign – With more than 830 million professional members, LinkedIn is the place to be for B2B brands. LinkedIn’s latest campaign – launching across the US, UK and Canada – champions the bold, boundless, and brilliant work of B2B brands and marketers. In the lead up to Cannes Lions and the awarding of the first ever Creative B2B Lions, LinkedIn is encouraging marketers to post B2B campaigns they admire by using the #B2Brilliant hashtag. 
  • LinkedIn launches new consultancy service – To help companies gain a competitive advantage, LinkedIn is launching B2B Edge – an exclusive consultancy service from the B2B Institute, LinkedIn’s marketing think tank, which uses original research and IP to help B2B customers including Oracle, SAS, and Workhuman, drive “performance branding” – a new approach to brand strategy, creative, distribution and measurement that is designed to help brands maximise profits. 
  • New features for Pages – More than 58 million organisations have a Page on LinkedIn to help them foster their communities. LinkedIn is launching new tools to help brands spark conversations, engage with their communities and drive discoverability, including @mentions and # hashtags in Articles and Newsletters, in addition to the ability to respond to any post in the feed as their Page. 
  • LinkedIn Business Manager – LinkedIn Business Manager will launch in the coming weeks, offering marketers a new, centralised platform that will simplify the way they manage people, accounts, Pages, and the businesses they work with to make marketing at scale even easier on LinkedIn and across the company’s network of publishers.
  • Marketing Labs certification – LinkedIn is introducing a new free certification on LinkedIn Content and Creative Design as part of LinkedIn Marketing Labs to help marketers upskill and demonstrate their expertise in creating and maintaining paid and organic content, including managing an active LinkedIn Page and designing a visually compelling creative. 
  • New LinkedIn Creativity playbook – LinkedIn’s new B2B creativity playbook empowers brand marketers and creative agencies to build campaigns on LinkedIn, taking a unique perspective on our product suite, data and insights and exploring what creative best practice looks like on the platform.