Why has 2023 seen creativity come to the forefront in B2B marketing like no other year?
In the face of skyrocketing use of generative AI technologies, creativity is standing out more than ever, as it represents the very essence of what people bring to marketing that AI on its own can’t.
While some AI tools can certainly help B2B marketers better realize their creative efforts, the power of the human touch is undeniable, and it is serving as a growing differentiator between mediocre marketing efforts and those five-star creative efforts that sparkle and delight brand audiences.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that creativity is blossoming in B2B marketing in 2023.
1 — In B2B Marketing Team Creativity & Ideas Reign
B2B marketers are looking to feed off competitive momentum and focus conversations using creativity, and keeping it sincere when it comes to brand activism, while making sure to avoid all hints of opportunism.
Some marketers and brands are also pulling back from an over-investment in technology that has taken a certain amount of focus away from creativity.
“I think in marketing you are only as good as the creativity of your team and your ideas,” Judy Tian, senior brand marketing manager at LinkedIn* observed. “The more voices that we bring to the table and the more proactiveness and willingness of everyone contributing ideas, the better off your marketing campaigns will be,” Judy added.
When the post-pandemic energy was released into the B2B marketing world, the floodgates of creativity opened and drove an increased focus on the kind of campaigns that connect brand and customer in deeper and more meaningful ways — and creativity through storytelling plays a important role in those efforts.
Powerful storytelling only happens in the B2B space when marketers tell their stories for their audiences, and not to them — ideally with empathy, creativity, authenticity, and heart, as Miri Rodriguez, senior storyteller future of work at Microsoft shared in “Microsoft’s Miri Rodriguez on How B2B Marketers Are Embracing Empathy For Better Customer Storytelling.”
2 — Differentiating Through Creativity That Is Relevant To B2B Audiences
Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer and president at Mastercard has shared the firm’s embrace of radical changes in marketing and advertising, sharing how the human elements that incorporate influence provide the differentiation that is needed more than ever in 2023.
“Since digital marketing began, the dependency on technology and data has become so intense that people started regarding anything creative as unnecessary or fluffy,” Rajamannar shared with The Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
“But the reality is that technology and data will level the playing field, so a company can no longer compete on just its product features or benefits or pricing or distribution network. You are going to have to differentiate yourself through creativity that is relevant to human beings,” Rajamannar suggested.
Additionally, the most successful firms utilizing content marketing tend to place a higher value on the attribute of creativity, a trait 92 percent of top content marketers said their organization sees as helping to craft successful content, while just 63 percent at lower-performing organizations strongly value such creativity in content marketing, according to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) data.
Indeed, 56 percent of marketers have said that creativity is the most important skill required for navigating uncertain times, according to LinkedIn data.
“AI is opening the door to new ideas, new executions, and new visuals that I may not have come up with on my own. It’s expanding my creative palette, not just saving me time.” — Chris Lavigne @crlvideo Click To Tweet
With the B2B sector representing over 50 percent of the economy, as B2B brands increasingly begin utilizing more B2C-like marketing efforts, the role and importance of creativity in B2B has natural risen.
“Though some might think b-to-b is all about technology and targeting, our research suggests that creativity is where you can find the biggest competitive edge.” — Peter Weinberg & @JonLombardo Click To Tweet
3 — AI Can Play A Role In B2B Marketing Creativity
Our own CEO Lee Odden recently delivered a fascinating keynote about AI’s impact on B2B marketing, presenting “Human vs Machine: The Future of B2B Content Marketing” during the BtoB Summit Paris 2023 conference.
Lee explained how generative AI essentially “makes you more of what you already are,” with poor content simply being turned into even more sub-par content if that’s what a marketer brings to the AI table, while those who instead present creativity and imagination to AI tools will be rewarded with even more top quality B2B marketing content that is creative and imaginative.
As the team at Think With Google has pointed out in its weekly “big topic,” it’s more a matter of AI plus creativity, and not AI versus creativity.
Creativity is playing an even more important role in B2B marketing in the age of generative AI, simultaneously helping to increase brand awareness and drive profitability.
Tyrona Heath, director of market engagement at The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, shared some of the many ways that creativity adds value to today’s B2B marketing efforts, in “B2B advertising doesn’t need to be boring: why creativity is a key driver of profitability.”
“Creativity plays a significant role in building and expanding your brand size,” Heath suggested.
“It leads to increased brand recognition, differentiation, customer loyalty, and ultimately having a larger market presence. And investing in creativity has a positive impact on financial performance because it serves as a multiplier,” Heath added.
4 — Take B2B Marketing To The Next Level With Creativity
In 2023, generative AI and creativity may initially appear as two completely different endeavors, however both offer compelling justifications for B2B marketers to use, especially when each is factored into the other’s strategy.
The future of B2B marketing is poised to feature a uniquely human touch optimized with AI for creative storytelling, and as new tools proliferate at a breakneck pace, it’s the marketers who embrace both AI and creativity who stand to see the greatest successes in 2023 and beyond.
We hope you’ve found some of the insight we’ve shared here on the rising role of creativity in B2B marketing helping, and that you’ll be able to put these take-aways to use in your own B2B efforts.
More than ever before, crafting creative B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why more brands are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and many others.
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
Lane R. Ellis has over 39 years’ experience working with and writing about the Internet. He writes for and manages all of the posts on the award-winning TopRank B2B Marketing Blog. Before joining the team here as Social Media and Content Marketing Manager, Lane spent more than a decade as Lead Editor for the prestigious conference firm Pubcon. When he’s not writing about B2B marketing trends, Lane enjoys distance running (he’s completed 11 marathons including two ultra-marathons so far), genealogical research, cross-country skate skiing, vegetarian cooking, and spending time with his wonderful wife Julie Ahasay and their cats Kukla, Twister, and Arlo in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota.