Why Business Marketers Need to Think More Like Consumer Marketers

As I talk with business-to-business marketers, I find there to be particular frustration over what they have lost in a web-centric marketing environment.  They can’t run glorious spreads of soaring airplanes.  There is no place for that memorable Intel Inside four-note sound.  And you can’t squeeze a headline, two paragraphs of text, a logo and a legal disclaimer into a 728 by 90 banner.

Brand-marketing programs were meant to build up an impression of a company or product such that when time was right to purchase, the consumer of the media felt positively disposed toward a brand.

Advertising on websites has gone way too far toward the notion that advertising must result in an immediate action (or even a nurtured action).  Yet that banner ad just can’t do justice to the exquisiteness of a lush ink-on-paper photograph of a machine tool or a garbage truck. It’s also quite likely that there aren’t a whole lot of plant managers who, seeing such a banner clicks through to the marketer’s site and says, “I’d like to order me one of those CNC machines for $550,000 this afternoon.”  Yet, many marketers are becoming frustrated by disappearing media solutions that used to allow for branding.

Sure, there are webinars and whitepapers and microsites galore and they can be effective.  But maybe all I want right now is to see the adjacency ad to the article I am reading.

What’s the solution? Well first off, there need to be reality checks around measurement and marketers, agencies and media need to roll up their sleeves and figure out expectations.  Marketers and agencies tell me how annoyed they are that there are still so few measurement standards for web advertising and what does exist can be easily twisted. And many marketers end up using the default of click throughs, which can be low if the product or service is not an “on demand need.”

But there also needs to be some good work done around creative solutions that enable more lush and repetitive work on the web.  You know—branding.  Has anyone really nailed video advertising on the web in the B2B space?  Why are there so few Sunday-morning-TV quality commercials embedded in websites? Couldn’t there be?

Couldn’t marketers, agencies and media come together and create truly innovative and impactful campaigns on par with our B2C counterparts? There are obvious reasons, which I outlined above that provide restrictions, but I believe we, in the B2B space if we use our collective creativity, compelling work will follow. We have a real moment here in this digital era. B2B must take the risks and move outside the traditional space we practiced in for decades.

Warren N. Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, for Penton Media, based in New York.

Follow him @wbimblick.