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3 Marketing Approaches That Are Driving Business Growth

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Marketing continues to search for its seat at the C-Suite table. The marketing executives that are being invited are the ones that are positioning their organization as a source of business growth. I attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) event, “B2B Marketing Drives Business Growth: Learn from the Experts,” in Scottsdale, AZ, and heard three interesting marketing approaches that can be used to impact the bottom line.

Don’t underestimate humor—even in B2B marketing

For B2C advertising, creating an emotional response that comes from laughter has been shown in various research to help strengthen brand affinity. If so, why is humor not used more in B2B marketing? Judy Begehr from gyro, an award-winning marketing agency, shared her agency’s research. gyro has conducted two parts of a three-part research project targeting executives in the C-Suite, IT and marketing. The majority of the respondents agreed that humor-based B2B ads, such as those from Adobe and Intel, helped with attracting the target audience, reinforcing the brand and raising awareness. Yet, they are risky. So much so that an overwhelming number of the respondents felt the potential risk to the company and to the brand was too great to apply levity in their advertising.

Begehr believes the research gyro is undertaking will help to boost the confidence of marketers who want to test the effect of humor in their advertising. As with all marketing programs, understanding your audience is critical to know if the funny poke will resonant and not offend. Additionally, she recommended to set up pilots and test the effectiveness on a small scale to minimize risk.

Learn more about the study and check out what we’re finding at

Data Can Shape a New Corporate Culture

Paul Miller, Group President of Penton, presented a case study on how data and analysis fueled innovation in the traditional B2B media culture. Miller’s experience at EE Times, UBM Tech and now at Penton have led him to the realization that growth can come from reinvention, but it requires a culture focused on innovation.

For many established companies, the vision for renewing itself is clouded by emotion. Miller was able to transform cultures by sharing data daily, ensuring that everyone was aware of critical information such as who is clicking on what content, what articles are being shared, how is content being consumed and so on. With transparency to facts, everyone had a clearer perspective into what was actually happening—devoid of emotion.

Through visibility, Miller was able to identify new growth opportunities such as creating new community sites to connect their audience. At Penton, he realized that all his industry publications had a common interest in the Internet of Things and launched the IoT Institute, an online community.

Relevancy Captures the Customer’s Mind and Heart

Carla Johnson of Type A Communications would like marketers to stop breeding irrelevancy and training their customers to ignore messages. Johnson helped to bring her message home as she shared the type of content she found going through her social media channels. As a marketer, it was obvious that much of what she showed wasn’t relatable to me, helped me like a company or compelled me to take action.

Then she showed two campaigns from Marriott: “Travel brilliantly” and their recent content in the form of feature-length films, “Two Bellmen” and “French Kiss.” Both campaigns tapped into a person’s travel lifestyle and told the story in an entertaining way rather than a through an ad. “French Kiss” can be tracked to driving revenue for Marriott as people want to eat and visit the sites where the film was recorded.

To be successful with today’s sophisticated audience, you must be a storyteller. Here are Johnson’s three recommendations for how to improve your storytelling:

1.     Understand your audience and tell your story from their perspective by linking meaningful moments together. For instance, create a blog based on your customers’ questions that go beyond your product to focus on the industry. Indium did just this with their blog and it has helped to expedite sales.

2.     Don’t try to be “better,” be “different.” such as the humor-based B2B advertising done by Gusto to launch their new HR software.

3.     Always leave the target audience wanting more so they keep coming back. You can create your content as a long story that you can tell through multiple channels and over time like breadcrumbs leading back to the ultimate goal. Lincoln Electric did this by creating ARC, a welding lifestyle magazine, to celebrate the pride of being a welder.

As marketers we are always looking for new ideas to inspire us for our next marketing programs. I felt each of these examples gave me something to help get my creative juices flowing.