8 best B2B marketing campaigns and what they teach us

b2b marketing campaigns

B2B marketing campaigns can be a tough nut to crack at the best of times. 

The competition’s fierce, for a start. And you’ll often have to work with complex subject matters, tight budgets, and an ever-changing marketing landscape where customers use up to 10 or more channels to interact with suppliers

The good news is that overcoming all these challenges can bring some incredible results. Because the best B2B marketing campaigns have the power to connect with consumers, drive sales, and supercharge business growth in one savvy swoop!

Whether you’re dabbling in B2B for your own business, or you’re a seasoned marketing pro searching for some inspiration, I’m going to help you ace your next project with inspiration from the eight best B2B marketing campaigns. We’ll unpack the clever tactics in each example too, so you can use them to create a successful marketing campaign of your own. 

Here’s a cheeky preview of the roundup for the eager B2B beavers: 

  1. Every Second Counts – IBM
  2. “So yeah, we tried Slack” – Slack 
  3. In It Together – LinkedIn
  4. Hey World – Upwork 
  5. Cat Herders – EDS
  6. What Matters – General Electric
  7. Wrapped for Advertisers – Spotify
  8. Make My Persona – HubSpot

What is B2B marketing? 

B2B (business-to-business) marketing is all about advertising products and services from one business or organization to another. Usually across a range of different touchpoints like video ads, press ads, and social media posts.

This type of marketing content tends to be more informational and straightforward than B2C (business-to-customer). That’s because business professionals are generally more concerned with their company’s bottom-line revenue, rather than an emotional pull. 

But tread carefully here! Because there’s a very fine line between professional and plain boring. Creativity and innovation are just as crucial for your B2B marketing strategy. And the best B2B campaigns never lose sight of the fact that they’re talking to humans.

1. Every Second Counts – IBM

Every Second counts IBM – best B2B marketing campaigns

Source: ibm.com

Nobody wants to be exposed to cyber attacks or data breaches. But the consequences can be especially devastating for businesses, with potential risks around every corner. To help tackle the issue, IBM wanted to highlight the urgency of cyber resilience in an unexpected, unforgettable way. And this B2B marketing campaign did just that. 

Every Second Counts uses a gripping, immersive experience to show key decision makers why a cyber attack recovery plan is vital for global businesses. Boldly leveraging video to create a sense of theater and build suspense for a lasting impression. 

But the coolest thing about this B2B video ad is the stuff that came after the campaign launched on YouTube. IBM then hosted a series of live events and presentations where they simulated a real cyber attack. This gave audiences the opportunity to actively engage with scenarios in real time and see the impact of both positive and negative outcomes. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

There’s a lot of clever thinking in this B2B campaign, from pulling on emotion to the interactive elements. But the most notable part was its strategic use of multiple touchpoints including video, social media, and experiential marketing – which all directed people to their website in a seamlessly interactive way. 

A varied set of touchpoints will not only ensure that you effectively target as much of your audience as possible, it can also help you connect with them in a more memorable way. 

2. “So yeah, we tried Slack” – Slack

Ads that entertain their audiences are always going to be a hit, no matter the category. And this one from Slack shows that B2B marketing campaigns can (and should) have their share of the fun. 

Taking inspiration from famous sitcoms like The Office, Slack took real customer case studies and turned them into a mockumentary-style video advert. This entire ad is filmed at Sandwich Video, a real Slack customer, to show how Slack has improved culture and workflow at the company. They candidly touch on all the common pain points that marketing teams might have, showcasing their benefits in an authentic and humorous way. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

The key takeaway from this B2B marketing campaign is that you don’t have to be super serious to effectively tell customers about your product or service. Professional environments can be hectic, so a little laughter will go a long way when it comes to winning potential business. 

Why not cut through the sameness and inject some humor into your next B2B campaign? 

3. In It Together – LinkedIn 

If you work in the marketing industry, you might already have a LinkedIn profile where you write attention grabbing articles and share brilliant LinkedIn posts. But for a lot of professionals out there, the social media platform can often be seen as unnecessary and even a little intimidating. 

To challenge this perception and welcome more people into its community, LinkedIn launched its In It Together B2B social media campaign. Showcasing what success means for people from all walks of life, the professional networking site positioned itself as a place for anyone who wants to make new connections and grow professionally. Celebrating and expanding its audience all at once.

Speaking of LinkedIn, here’s my shortlist of the best LinkedIn ads.

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

If you really want to humanize your corporate brand and build trust with an effective campaign, heroing your consumers is a great approach. Similar to LinkedIn, you can take this tactic even further by using your existing consumer base to nurture a greater sense of community around your brand.

Harnessing the power of user generated content, LinkedIn also used this B2B campaign platform to encourage its audience to share their own professional journeys for added reach and engagement. Take note! 

Review your next B2B marketing campaign with Filestage 

Filestage is a review and approval software that lets you collaborate with your team on all types of content, including PDFs, design files, documents, video ads, websites, audio files, and more. Making it the perfect tool to help marketing teams review and develop their next B2B marketing campaign. 

 Here’s your simple six step process for reviewing content with Filestage:

  1. Sign up to Filestage for free and create a project
  2. Set reviewer groups and invite reviewers
  3. Upload files and set due dates
  4. Collect feedback from reviewers
  5. Collaborate until you get approval
  6. Repeat for your remaining review steps

4. Hey World – Upwork 

Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers with people and organizations that need their skills. And they took the world of B2B marketing by storm with this hyper-targeted campaign. 

The campaign ran primarily on social, as well as some traditional advertising spaces like out of home billboards. Upwork boldly targeted these ads at big household names like Elon Musk and Amazon, playfully nudging them to get more work done with their freelancers. 

The idea was brought to life with a striking visual style and caught the attention of millions around the world. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

Where relevant, tapping into pop culture can be a fantastic way to inject some personality into your B2B communications. This approach allows you to step away from the corporate norm and leave a more lasting, positive impression on your audience. 

This example from Upwork works brilliantly because it saves the need to go into details about their offering as a business. The campaign is instantly gettable and relatable, no matter who happens to see it. 

5. Cat Herders – EDS

EDS (Electronic Data Systems) was an IT services company that specialized in managing digital data. Which, let’s be honest, could have lent itself to some pretty stuffy B2B content. But instead, EDS went off the beaten track to increase brand awareness with this hilarious piece of video marketing. 

Bringing a commonly used idiom to life, the ad features a pair of cowboys herding cats in the Wild West. 

Gloriously simple. Undeniably entertaining. And absolutely bonkers. Bravo! 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

Every effective B2B marketing campaign simplifies the complex to a certain degree. But if you really want to raise awareness and build trust around your business, distilling your product or service down into one single-minded offering could be the way to go. Just make sure you leave space to include all the relevant information your audience needs. 

There are lots of creative ways to make your B2B campaign more single-minded. For example, you could use metaphor, humor, or dramatization. EDS cleverly used all three to create this side-splitting Super Bowl ad

6. What Matters – General Electric

One hurdle that’s especially hard to overcome for a lot of B2B companies, from small businesses to large corporations, is a lack of emotion. For most of us, our professional lives come second to our personal wellbeing. So even when a product or service is an industry leader or essential to someone’s job, it generally doesn’t mean that much outside of the workplace. 

General Electric, however, managed to cross this divide with help from some powerful storytelling in their What Matters video ad. Using a series of short stories, the world energy leader was able to showcase a deeper meaning to the services they provide. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

This campaign is a great example of how storytelling can help B2B brands connect with consumers in a more meaningful way. But above all, it demonstrates the importance of using emotion in advertising, no matter your audience. 

While a lot of buying decisions are made based on logic in the B2B world, a touch of emotion can give you that extra edge over the competition and help your business stand out from the predominantly factual B2B ads out there.

7. Wrapped for Advertisers – Spotify

Brightening up the winter months since 2015, Spotify Wrapped has been a massive hit in the B2C marketing space. It generates more organic reach every year to support its killer traditional advertising campaigns. 

Wrapped for Advertisers takes this same snackable data that consumers love, and offers it up to businesses in the form of actionable trends and insights on their target audiences. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

Spotify quickly saw the value of audience insights and used this to inspire their B2B marketing strategy. 

The key lesson here? Analytics are your best friend when it comes to communicating with your audience. When you track your consumers’ behaviors and attitudes, you’re going to be so much more equipped to make and deliver advertising that really hits home for them. 

Society is constantly changing. So when you can, be sure to analyze every element of your marketing campaigns to find out what works and what needs improvement.

8. Make My Persona – HubSpot 

Make my Persona – HubSpot

Source: HubSpot

HubSpot, a sales and marketing platform, launched an innovative and interactive campaign to advertise a new feature that allows  businesses to create buyer personas and accurately segment their different customers. 

The digital campaign combined interactive content with personalization across a variety of marketing channels including social, email, and the company’s blog to create an engaging user experience that snatched up a ton of new leads. 

Top lesson from this B2B marketing campaign

Functionality is always key for your B2B marketing strategy. But HubSpot’s example didn’t just tell people about their new tool, it allowed potential customers to experience it for themselves. 

If you’re advertising a specific product or service, think about how you can make it more interactive for your audience. This not only builds trust in your offering, it makes for a more memorable experience too. 

Final thoughts 

When it comes to crafting B2B marketing campaigns that connect with your target audience and generate new leads, innovation and creativity are key. 

I hope you found this article useful and that it has inspired you to push the boundaries with your next B2B campaign. And if you’d like to see how Filestage can help you get faster approval on your campaigns, start a free trial here →