SINGAPORE — In a first-of-its-kind recent global study into the perceptions of creativity and brand building in B2B marketing, new data revealed that marketers are shifting away from traditional B2B tactics and championing creativity-driven brand campaigns to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Conducted by LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and leading B2B advertising platform ahead of the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity — where senior executives including CEO Ryan Roslansky will present across various keynotes — the study sought the opinions of more than 1,600 senior-level marketers across 13 markets globally.
In key Asia Pacific markets surveyed — comprising Singapore, Australia, and India — nine out of 10 senior B2B marketing leaders said they are increasingly embracing “creative confidence,” moving away from performance marketing and lead generation as priorities. Instead, they are paying more attention to brand campaigns that harness storytelling and emotion to increase brand stickiness, as well as reach relevant audiences.
APAC marketers who agree that B2B companies have become more confident in producing creative campaigns recognize that creativity is essential to long-term brand building (34%) and helps drive memorability amongst customers (28%). However, attracting top creative talent remains a challenge, with close to nine in 10 (87%) marketers sharing that the best talents in the industry are in consumer marketing.
B2B branding is especially crucial in APAC, where purchasing decisions are emotionally-driven. While B2B brands have traditionally prioritized performance marketing to boost short-term sales, an industry-wide shift looks like it’s underway. Almost all (95%) B2B marketing leaders in APAC recognize that brand building is just as important to driving long-term revenue growth in B2B as it is in consumer marketing.
Notably, B2B purchasing decisions in APAC are perceived to be more emotionally driven than the rest of the world, thus exacerbating the need for brand-led marketing. 82% of APAC marketers agreed that B2B purchases are as emotionally driven as B2C ones — significantly higher than the global average (69%).
In addition, the dynamics of today’s B2B market necessitate the need for creativity and brand building. According to a report from the B2B Institute, LinkedIn’s marketing think tank, and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia, 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market to buy today. It’s therefore crucial 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 APAC B2B industry
The survey also shed light into the competitive landscape for talent attraction within the industry. Close to 8 in 10 (75%) of B2B marketing leaders in APAC believe that B2B marketing is more challenging than B2C – significantly higher than the global average (56%). But despite the professional opportunity, 87% are concerned that the best talent in the industry is drawn to working in consumer marketing over B2B marketing.
APAC is also the most competitive region globally to hire creative talent, with close to 7 in 10 (67%) of marketing leaders finding it challenging to hire creative talent, vs the global average of 57%.
Meanwhile, B2B marketing leaders in APAC identified innovation, problem-solving, and data analytics as to the top skills that will underpin the push toward B2B creativity today. More than half (54%) 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 industry experience (53%) is regarded as the most important factor to produce a strong creative output, followed by diversity of experience within a team; diversity of skills; and diversity of personal and professional networks (all 48%).
Sarah Tucker, head of APAC Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, said, “APAC is one of the most unique markets for B2B marketing, with our research showing that purchasing decisions are more emotionally driven here than elsewhere in the world. In this landscape, brand building underpinned by creative storytelling is critical to capture the attention of B2B audiences. It comes as no surprise that marketers are moving away from traditional tactics, and embracing brand-led marketing that shows the real, human side of their businesses. Through the introduction of new features such as Business Manager and Marketing Labs certifications, LinkedIn is committed to helping B2B marketers realize their most creative ideas with ease, and build a lasting impression among their audiences.”
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.”
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.”
Helping B2B brands unleash creative campaigns with ease
To help B2B brands unleash their most creative work and execute campaigns with ease, LinkedIn has announced:
- New features for Pages – More than 58 million organizations 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, centralized 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.