Blog Insight

Making Your B2B Creative Suck Less

What is it about creative for B2B marketing campaigns? It always starts out with the best of intentions. “Let’s think outside the box,” declares the creative brief. Everybody’s on board. Then somehow, inevitably, you end up with, well, a yawner. What gives?

Ever curious, our agency, The Garrigan Lyman Group, recently brought in creative consultant Luke Sullivan, 30-year advertising veteran and author of the well-known advertising tome, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads. The morning of his visit, Tim Garrigan, Rebecca Lyman, and I met Luke for breakfast. As we chatted about everything from big ideas to the omelet special, Luke was charming and refreshingly honest about how to get to big ideas. And he had no disclaimers for B2B work: the ideas should be just as big as B2C.That day, as Luke spoke to our entire GLG team, he got jazzed about our agency and what we’re doing. He loved the journey we’re on to create kick-ass creative. He remarked that GLG reminded him of his time at The Martin Agency, an agency of similar size and ambition, which he considers the most enjoyable and creatively fertile time of his career.

A few tips from Luke on making your next B2B campaign suck less:

Find the truest thing about your brand.

As a tool for brainstorming, start with identifying the truth about your product, category, or brand. Use data, certainly—the more information, the better. But also rely on your shared knowledge, individual stories, and personal experience. Find lots of truths, and then hone in on the one single truth that stands above the rest.

Seek conflict. That’s where the story is.

When everything is OK, people aren’t interested. This often comes up in B2B marketing campaigns. The temptation is to show how wonderful the world is with the key features and benefits of the product. But that’s not very interesting. It’s like telling a story by starting with the happy ending. It’s OK to be bad, really. Start with the problem and work your way to the solution. The truth plus this conflict creates a compelling story.

Big ideas don’t need big explanations.

Or as Luke puts it, it’s not a big idea if it doesn’t fit on a Post-it. If you need more words than a Post-it to explain your idea, it’s not a big idea. It still needs refinement, simplification, or more likely, moving on to a better idea that is an instant get. Not only that, seeing it will spawn lots of executional ideas naturally. Now you’ve got a really big idea.

Be it B2B or B2C, I love working with clients who want to take risks and appreciate a creative team that flat-out goes for it, misses and all. When we have a partnership like that, there’s no limit to the size of our ideas or the impact we can create together.