Over this series of posts, if you’ve taken one thing away, hopefully it’s that the buyer is now in control of the purchase process. And that it’s not a bad thing—it’s even an opportunity for the marketer who adapts.
For the creative part of our business, there are two serious benefits to integrating brand and demand generation efforts around the buyer:
1. When your brand and value propositions are consistent across every touchpoint along the buyer journey, that differentiated brand message is reinforced over and over until it fully lodges in the brain of the buyer. Put another way:
“The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.”
Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D., in Psychology Today
Result: Strong brand integration into demand generation results in higher engagement rates, less price sensitivity, higher loyalty, etc.
2. When your big creative ideas both align with your brand message and also are systematically wrapped around your demand generation efforts, you can realize results over time that pure performance marketers can only dream of. Kind of like reaching marketing nirvana, if you will.
Result: A breakthrough campaign concept that is relentlessly repeated across the buy cycle alongside relevant contextual content gets the buyers’ attention, stops them in their tracks and drives clicks and conversions.
So you not only enjoy the performance gains in higher buyer engagement with your demand generation messages, but those gains also flow downhill into higher conversions rates at every stage of the buy cycle.
Remember the direct marketing “40/40/20” rule that said that creative quality only has a 20% response in performance?
Well, in today’s demand generation environment, even if you believe this 20th-century framework still holds, a creative approach to storytelling that could lift performance by even 5% would make your bosses build shrines in your name.
So yeah, it matters. A lot.
Since the advent of B2B strategic content marketing planning in 2008, best-in-class marketing agencies have recognized that buyers have the control, and in response have brought creative departments and content marketers together to collaborate in the name of (re)embracing the concept of “storytelling” in developing holistic campaigns.
“Aligning breakthrough creative ideation with the buyer journey requires two things.
“First, we must fully understand the buyer’s rational and emotional needs related to the business challenge he or she is trying to solve.
“Second, we must understand and align touchpoints along the journey to tell a story that addresses those needs in compelling, relevant and differentiated ways while ensuring we do all this in harmony with the larger brand story.”
Ron Klingensmith, Chief Creative Officer
How to position your creative and content teams to succeed
According to Klingensmith, here are the keys he follows as he directs Slack and Company’s integrated brand and demand creative/content ideation:
1. The creative and content teams must be involved from the get-go.
In a buyer-led approach to strategic planning, it should go without saying that the creatives need to fully understand not just the solution our client is offering but also, more importantly, the problem that this solution solves for the buyer rationally and emotionally.
Waiting until the brief is written is a significant lost opportunity. Creatives ask questions during research and discovery that more analytical minds often fail to conjure. The natural curiosity of the modern B2B creative professional can unearth insights into the buyers’ needs, your business’s value proposition, unspoken objections and other incredibly powerful insights that can lead to that resonant “big idea.”
2. The buyer journey must be fully mapped out prior to any planning.
Using our education/information/confirmation model for buyer journey mapping, we’re able to understand the emotional and intellectual needs of the buyer at each phase of their journey and align that with message maps, existing and needed content assets and appropriate media channels for reaching that buyer at each stage.
When the creative and content teams understand each of those phases in the buyers’ minds, the likely content needed at each phase and the likely channels to reach them, it enables the development of overarching creative concepts that “have legs,” says Klingensmith (see below).
3. The campaign concept (i.e. overarching story) cannot be a one-off great idea.
According to Klingensmith, “We live in a digital age. We don't want to give the buyer everything all at once.
Success in marketing storytelling today is about making sure what we present buyers is not only relevant to them in that moment but also that it is digestible.
The best campaigns feature bingeable pieces of content that help buyers self-serve their information needs while simultaneously forming a strong bond to the brand.
This content takes whatever format is appropriate for that buyer in that moment to their needs but is part of the larger story that pays off the notion that we both understand the buyer’s business challenge inside and out and that we have proven solutions the buyer needs to learn more about for their own benefit.
Our approach to integrating creative and content follows the need to serve buyers on their terms.
If you have questions about how to break down the silos and fully integrate your brand, creative and content teams into demand generation, we’re always a click away.
Up next in our 6-part series: Amplifying brand with a mature digital infrastructure. Click here to start reading.
Ready for more?
Reaching today’s B2B buyers requires a strong brand and agile demand gen. Check out our infographic to learn more about why that’s so important—and how you can get started.
Or, you can check out the rest of our Shortest Distance blogs right here.