Article | Gemma Huckle

How to make your brand your future cashflow

7 May, 2021

There is a crisis of creativity in B2B marketing. The business case for creativity has been poor, so sales targets are eating creativity for breakfast. There are plenty of quotes about the advantages of creativity, but there are fewer examples of creativity’s practical input into business performance. If the commercial impact of creativity cannot be measured, then it will not get the investment it deserves. The result? Low quality creative that no one remembers, and we all know that a memorable brand, is a brand that’s bought.

This is a rallying call to B2B marketers to start speaking the language of money to make a strong business case for creativity. Because as we’ll see, the biggest investment any B2B company can make is in brand, with great creative 10-20 times more effective at driving sales than bad creative (The B2B Institute, LinkedIn). But to make a compelling case for creative brand work, you need to speak the same language as your CFO and talk less about brand purpose and more about brand profits. It’s about linking brand inputs with brand outputs.


Building a business case for creativity

To increase profit you need two things: quality creative and quality media. The first business case you need to show is that extra share of voice (a marketing metric) can grow your share of market (a financial metric) – see what I’ve done there? By linking the fact that growth is a function of reach, you are showing that you can only influence the buyer if you can reach the buyer.

However, media is only half the equation. As we’ve already discussed, great creative has the potential to drive more sales, and yet disposable, short-term and ultimately ineffective creative continues to be a problem in B2B marketing. Research from Peter Field and Les Binet for The B2B Institute on behalf of LinkedIn, shows that creative is the casualty of short-term activation-focused campaigns. This is not an environment where creativity flourishes, so B2B needs to break free from this problem by creating a better balance of sales activation (purchase response activity) and brand building (brand preference activity) instead.

You need both types of marketing to succeed in the short and long-term, but Field and Binet suggest that B2B marketing efficiency is optimised when 46% of budget is allocated to brand and 54% is allocated to activation. If you’re not investing close to half your budget in brand building activities then you’re not emotionally influencing how people feel about your brand, product or service over time. Committing to running great creative over long periods of time increases its effectiveness and value. If you think of standout companies today, their creative has run for decades. From Nike’s “Just Do It” running since 1988, and L’Oréal’s “Because you’re worth it” running since 1971, to Marmite’s “Love it or Hate it” running since 1996, they are all easy to remember.


So, what makes great creative?

Emotions are as important in B2B as they are in B2C because the human brain remembers emotions far better than facts. Field and Binet found that B2B strategies that appeal to emotions are seven times more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than rational messaging.

But how do you plot key metrics against emotional creative? The good news is there is a way to measure it:

  1. Star rating this measures the function of emotions (a 1-star ad is a bad rating as it reflects negative emotions such as fear and disgust. A 5-star ad is a good rating as it reflects positive emotions such amusement and hope).
  2. Spike rating – this measures the intensity of emotions (a scale of 1-3 from low to exceptional). You want a highly positively emotional ad where you feel the intensity of that emotion as it makes the ad memorable. You need to make sure your brand is present at the most intense moment, so your brand is remembered.
  3. Fluency rating – this measures brand recognition by asking the audience how quickly they relate the brand to the ad. This is where you will know if your ad is well branded enough with a creative layer that become synonymous with your brand i.e., a soundtrack, a character or a tag line.
*Metrics defined by The B2B Institute for LinkedIn

If your creative scores well on emotion, fluency and intensity then you have all the ingredients of a great ad that can help you link cash flows to creativity.


How do B2B ads currently score?


*System1, The B2B Institute for LinkedIn

As you can see there is a massive opportunity in B2B for great creative that, run for a long period of time, gives brands more market share growth.

The approach that a high-performing marketer takes is defined by:

  • A balanced approach to short and long-term objectives
  • Greater use of reach using brand-building media
  • A balanced allocation of media expenditure between brand building and sales activation
  • Campaign in-market long enough to embed behavioural change (at least six months)
  • Measure of creative success using metrics the CFO understands (market share growth).

So, there you have it, the financial case for investing in five-star creative has been made, and the B2B brands willing to invest in high-scoring creative are the brands that will win more market share and make more sales.




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