Can a Big Long Idea be Your Secret Weapon in B2B Marketing? - Reuben Webb, Stein IAS

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Kimberly Conklin
Kimberly Conklin Posts: 202 6senser
edited June 18 in Inspire 24

Reuben Webb, Chief Creative Officer at Stein IAS, delivered a stand out session on the power of creativity in B2B marketing. Webb introduced the concept of the "big long idea" in B2B creative and how it can be the secret weapon to drive greater performance and inject creativity into your use of 6sense. Or to put it another way – when you can be brave enough prioritise creativity, results soon follow.  

The Role of Creativity in B2B Marketing 

Creativity is the elephant in the room when it comes to B2B marketing. Despite their being more pressure than ever for B2B brands to embrace creativity (both from within and without) it still goes overlooked. But in a world where B2B creativity is now an awards category (hello B2B Cannes Lions) and with increased focus on brand investment alongside demand generation, it’s time to tackle the elephant and embrace creativity as a key potential differentiator for your brand.  

The Creative Effectiveness Ladder  

People often blame their hesitation to push creativity on the 'mean old people in the boardroom' who just don’t get it. Webb suggests you need a better conversation starter, and that's where the Creative Effectiveness Ladder comes in. 

Webb introduced the Creative Effectiveness Ladder, a framework designed to enhance creative impact: 

Response Trigger: Stimulate a response or interaction. 

Lead Generator: Generate qualified sales leads. 

Sales Closer: Convert existing demand to sales. 

Fame Maker: Create buzz and awareness. 

Brand Builder: Build strong brand affinity. 

Strategic Asset: Propel the business forward. 

As B2B marketers, we’re generally pretty good at the bottom of the ladder, focusing on tactical awareness marketing. 6sense is perfect for proactively reaching out to engaged audiences. However, we often lack the ambition to climb higher on the ladder. 

If you forget to engage through creativity, you are just using the same tools as everyone else. It's about having a differentiator, and creativity is what makes you stand out. The ‘big long idea’ complements the creative effectiveness ladder by providing a cohesive concept that can be executed across every level of the funnel. 

This approach ensures consistency and impact, engaging both potential prospects and the 'sleeping targets' within your ICP, as well as the engaged audience at each funnel stage—from awareness to purchase. 

Brand Marketing & Navigating the ‘Dark Funnel’  

In the 'Brand Marketing' stage, where audiences are typically non-engaged, it's crucial to establish your brand as a trusted guide in the buyer's journey. 

Content and ideas need to stand out to attract attention. If prospects are reviewing your brand materials in the dark, those with the strongest pull from brand awareness into the funnel will have a better chance of being shortlisted. To reach prospects who are 'under a rock,' getting creative is key. Creativity is your beacon; show your audience the light. 

Planning Principles: The Core Areas of Connectivity  

When deployed correctly, the ‘big long idea’ can provide the connective tissue that helps you tell a unified brand story across each stage of the funnel. This includes: 

  • Message and Narrative 
  • Channel and Ad Formats 
  • Content Themes and Assets 
  • Creative and Design 
  • Digital Touchpoints 

 

Evaluating Creative in B2B 

To maximise your creative efforts, constantly evaluate against principles that hold true. For Webb, these include: 

  • Originality Value: Ensure your ideas are unique compared to competitors and industry norms. 
  • Internal & Customer Value: Ensure adaptability and authenticity for different business areas and address real customer problems. 
  • Emotional Value: Engage the audience emotionally, making them feel good about what they do and your brand’s relevance to current industry issues. 

 

Measuring Creative in B2B 

Webb stressed the importance of measuring creativity using a scaled approach. Creativity can be measured like any other metric by considering the following aspects: 

Originality Value: 

  • Different from ideas the competition has used? 
  • Different from ideas the industry has used? 
  • Different from ideas any B2B brand has used? 
  • Different from ideas any brand has used before? 

 

Internal and Customer Value: 

  • Internal value: Does your creative have adaptability for each business area? Is it authentic to day-to-day purpose and use? 
  • Customer value: Does it solve a real problem? Is it empowering as a potential investment case? 

 

Emotional Value: 

  • Professional Value: Making people feel good about what they do. 
  • Universal Value: Making people feel good as human beings. 
  • Current Value: Making people feel a brand is connected to current issues in an industry. 

By adhering to these principles, you can create impactful and memorable campaigns that drive your audience through the buyer journey effectively. 

ZS: Transforming Helathcare with Data and AI  

Webb then introduced a strong Matrix-themed video as the key piece of content for a campaign for ZS, a consulting and tech firm transforming real-world healthcare with data and AI. While not the most 'sexy' of clients, by taking a creative approach that delivered a unifying concept across more traditional touchpoints of the B2B marketing journey (display ads, thought leadership, webinars, BDR reachouts), Webb demonstrated that B2B and creativity are not mutually exclusive. And when done well, it can create impressive results. For ZS, that looked like: 

  • 100% of targeted accounts reached 
  • 95% of target accounts engaged 
  • 1.3 million impressions in 6 months 
  • VP+ engagement doubled in 4 months 
  • GEN AI POV ranks #4 on zs.com 
  • Digital value POV ranks #5 on zs.com within 1 month of publishing 

Key Takeaways 

A Transformation is Underway: Creative effectiveness is becoming one of the essential drivers of B2B growth – ride the wave.  

Think Big Long Ideas: Cultivating a culture of creativity is crucial. In B2B, it's how you climb the effectiveness ladder. 

B2B creativity is yours for the taking – Embrace it now and understand which tools in your tech stack are already there to support you along the way.