UK B2B marketers ‘cautiously optimistic’ about creative future

While research reveals B2B marketers are still lagging in creative confidence and feel concerned about attracting talent, a “paradigm shift” is inspiring the industry to ramp up its storytelling credentials.

B2B marketers in the UK have the lowest confidence when it comes to their companies’ ability to produce creative campaigns.

That’s according to new research from LinkedIn, which suggests 59% of B2B marketing leaders in the UK agree creative confidence is growing, the lowest figure amongst the 13 countries included in the study. Globally, the figure is on average 82%.

However, despite the UK producing the lowest ranking figure, LinkedIn senior director for head of marketing solutions UK and Ireland, Tunji Akintokun, points out 59% is actually “really quite good”.

“We just are genuinely more cautiously optimistic around building creative B2B campaigns, but we know it’s the next frontier and the sign in the industry is that we’re already pushing the envelope quite a lot more,” he explains.

By comparison, countries ranking highly on the confidence metric include Brazil (95%), Australia (95%) and India (94%). Compared to the UK, Akintokun notes countries like India and Brazil are in the “hyper growth stage”, where the overall industry is “more open to change”.

On the point of the UK being “cautiously optimistic”, he believes confidence will build over time and will go in the right direction, as the dial appears to shift on the role of B2B marketing across the industry.

“It’s a good sign,” Akintokun adds.

Storytelling is one way of attracting more talent into the industry.

Tunji Akintokun, LinkedIn

Another long drawn out issue for B2B brands has been attracting talent, with the industry stereotypically having less pulling power than consumer brands.

The LinkedIn research found 58% of UK marketers are concerned the best talent in the industry is drawn to working in consumer marketing over B2B.

Around half (49%) of marketers globally say strong creative output is largely reliant on diversity of experience within a team. In terms of agency partners, diversity of skills (45%) and diversity of experience (45%) are deemed equally as important to fostering creative output.

Akintokun believes perceptions could change if B2B brands focus more on storytelling in their marketing and advertising.

“Storytelling is one way of attracting more talent into the industry,” he states.

As time goes on, companies will have to find different and more innovative ways of recruiting creative talent, Akintokun suggests, broadening “the net in terms of looking at where that diversity of experience comes from.”

Paradigm shift

According to the study, 39% of marketers globally believe B2B brands are increasingly harnessing storytelling, emotion and humour to help feed the lasting power of their creative campaigns.

More than two thirds (69%) of this global sample agree B2B purchasing decisions are just as emotionally driven as B2C. Furthermore, the majority of B2B marketers (81%) say their brands are now producing creative campaigns that rival consumer brands.

This is a marked contrast with LinkedIn’s research last year, which found the majority of B2B creative campaigns to be “ineffective”.

Akintokun argues there has been a “paradigm shift” in the perception of B2B marketing and brand building, adding that people want adverts they can relate to.

“This is where I think we’re seeing that change,” he states.

Brand building, alongside reputation, are the elements emerging within B2B organisations and becoming “increasingly more important”, says Akintokun.

Of the marketers surveyed, the majority (89%) say brand building is just as important to driving long-term revenue growth in B2B as it is in consumer marketing. This is a good indicator for what we can expect to see coming from B2B brands in the future, Akintokun adds.

Ehrenberg-Bass: 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market for your products

Referencing last year’s research from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and LinkedIn B2B Institute, which found 95% of B2B businesses are not in the market for most goods and services at any one time, Akintokun says organisations are repsonding.

He suggests creativity is coming through as an attempt to be “more memorable” and “more tangible”.

The marketers surveyed who believe B2B companies are now more confident when it comes to producing creative campaigns also recognise creativity is essential to long-term brand building (30%) and helps drive memorability amongst customers (27%).

“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,” adds global head of the LinkedIn B2B Institude Jann Schwarz.

“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.”