As marketers, many of us are afraid to ditch the tried and true.
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a study released earlier this month found that face-to-face marketing – the kind that occurs at industry conferences, sometimes over a few watered-down house brand drinks – remains the key method chosen by B2B businesses to drive sales.
That’s likely because potential leads are under the same roof and are open to pitches, given the industry focus of conference events.
Even with the growing amount of automation tools to help identify qualified leads, finding good leads remains the most stressful part of B2B business marketing, and it is what keeps us up at night, according to a survey from The Telemarketing Company, one of the UK’s top telemarketing, lead generation and market research firms.
Stress aside, marketing departments aren’t waiting for their next national conference to land leads. Many are making big shifts in their marketing approach, and those shifts are re-positioning them significantly.
MetLife, for example, is ditching Snoopy and the gang as it moves from B2C to B2B and rebrands itself at Brighthouse Financial, and John Deere is creating a deeper connection with clients by showing how operators play a role in the design of new equipment, ensuring that the equipment is right for the people who use it.
But many marketers are reaching out to a broader audience by using social media as a tool – it worked for the B2C brand Oreo with its memorable Dunk in the Dark Super Bowl campaign – a move that for the following companies has been a game changer because of the wider audience reach.
Here are some of the best B2B social media case studies we’ve seen from B2B businesses this year.
Time Warner Business Class
This year, Time Warner Cable Business Class took a new approach to marketing, and instead of focusing on the technology it provides, used YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to share the success stories of its customer base of small to medium-sized businesses, potentially reaching an audience of millions with each video.
One customer, Green Dot Public Schools, relies on technology to help prepare its students for a successful future, and its Facebook video – which not only helps showcase what Green Dot does – highlighted how Time Warner Business Class and its high speed connection allowed them to do their job better.
“Time Warner Business Class has been critical in providing that high speed connection, that connectivity to ensure that all the devices that we deploy can be used across all schools,” said Dr. Kevin Keelen, Green Dot’s Chief Information Officer.
In the video, Cloud Imperium Games revealed how the close working relationship it has with Time Warner Business allowed them to create the ideal gaming system, one that was fast enough and advanced enough to suit fickle consumers.
The stories ended with a call to action to download the “Mighty Mid-Market” eBook, which offers more information on how Time Warner Business Class connectivity solutions can help businesses improve.
The marketing campaign, which helped establish deeper connections between Time Warner Business and its most loyal, established clients even as it helped both sides experience growth, has helped Time Warner Business grow for the last 18 quarters, which is rare for even the most established of businesses.
After learning that millennials – the target of many businesses hoping to employ workers on top of cutting-edge technology – found traditional TV advertising boring, the professional recruitment site Jobsite, based in the United Kingdom, decided to create content that better connected with their target audience.
Jobsite ditched the TV ads and went digital, creating a social media campaign called “The Advantage,” a play off the BBC version of “The Apprentice” that positioned the company’s slogan, “Real jobs for real people,” in a comic, creative way.
Jobsite saw significant marketplace improvements in just three months by engaging with its target audience in a strategic method that millennials saw as more approachable.
To continue the momentum, Jobsite joined pop culture conversations on Facebook and Twitter – sending tweets that linked Jobsite and the finale of the hit show “Sherlock,” for example – using appropriate trending hashtags in order to draw more attention to their campaign.
“The Advantage” video has since received more than 740,000 views – more than half fueled by social media engagement – boosting Jobsite’s place in the marketplace significantly over its competitors.
With backing from creatives at McCann Erickson New York, Lockheed Martin saturated the marketplace with its campaign, “Engineering a Better Tomorrow,” which painted a portrait of a future fueled by Lockheed Martin technology – such as flights to Mars – using computer-generated imagery. The campaign included video, print, social media and targeted event appearances such as the Paris Air show.
With so many opportunities to capture potential client attention, the video received more than 2.3 million views across all mediums including social.
GE has been using Instagram to highlight its most important technological advancements, and this year, with the help of BBDO New York, the company created buzz by creating Invention Donkey, a character that “high jacked” GE’s Twitter account for the day, providing custom video tweets to those with questions about GE’s latest technology.
“What we work on is really hard, and we wanted to show it in a new light,” said Andy Goldberg, global creative director at GE.
Previously, GE has used Instagram to give enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at what is happening at the company, even giving top Instagram influencers – the best way to get bonus marketing and PR – as well as a handful of super fans a chance to tour a GE aviation facility in Ohio, where the most advanced jet engines in the world are tested.
Both influencers and fans shared their experiences via the widespread platform Instagram offered, while GE took a social media time travel throughout the company’s 120-year history, posting archival photos from the 1939 World’s Fair to today’s awe-inspiring technological advances.
GE gained more than 3,000 new followers thanks to more than 200,000 social media interactions and 3.5 million views.
The Winston-Salem-based agency MullenLowe used the railroad company CSX’s already strong social media presence to help make intermodal shipping – the transport of contained gods via various methods of transport including ships, trains and trucks – fun for its successful campaign.
MullenLowe created the sitcom-inspired “The Intermodels,” featuring web videos and social media content including a retro game to explain intermodal shipping through the characters Mike the Train, Carl the Crane, Rosie the Ship and Bob the Truck.
The campaign was a chance for CSX to overtake its top competitor, Norfolk Southern, which it could only do if its target audience knew what intermodal is and what it can do.
“We needed to educate on an entire category while elevating the brand as the leader of that category,” said a CSX spokesperson.
The company produced 16 educational and entertaining videos that could be shared on CSX’s social media channels, which in conjunction with the video game significantly boosted CSX growth.
The campaign achieved 120 million impressions through social media and PR and influencer buzz.
The data included 3.9 million video views via Facebook and Twitter, a 72 percent increase in positivity toward CSX and a significantly improved click-through rate for website visitors.
The campaign was as efficient as intermodal itself, a company spokesperson said – and was so clever that a competitor retweeted it, giving CSX an additional, unexpected plug.
This campaign was gold from the start.
For 82 years, PricewaterhouseCoopers BallotBriefcase has been used to transport the Academy Award winners to the Oscar ceremony.
This last year, PwC raised awareness of the big role the BallotBriefcase played in the ceremony through Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Using social media, PwC turned the briefcase into its own kind of superstar, spending the weeks before the Oscars taking it on celebrity appearances, posing for photo ops and meet and greets to raise awareness of just how those Academy Award nominees go from the ballots sent in by voters to envelopes opened on Oscar night.
The goal was to showcase the role PwC plays in the Oscars while using the Academy Awards – and social media – to reposition the brand to appeal to a younger demographic.
Because Neil Patrick Harris had used the briefcase as a prop for a magic trick while hosting the previous year’s ceremony, PwC chose to center its campaign around the briefcase, and allowed PwC to fade into the background.
During the six weeks leading up to the Oscars, the diva-like Briefcase shared Oscar trivia regarding the balloting process while meeting with fans in events captured entirely on Snap Chat.
PwC employees also shared photos to expand the campaign’s reach.
Within weeks, PwC noticed impressions had been increased significantly thanks to the playful Briefcase campaign.
Of 12.3 Twitter impressions, the Briefcase got 1,062 mentions, a number that continued to grow as the campaign continued.
Impressions and mentions also increased on other social media channels, increasing potential impressions 136 times more than previous Oscar campaigns.
In order to encourage small businesses to make consumers aware that they accepted American Express – which helps increase traffic to those businesses by card holders according to studies – American Express launched the Love My Store campaign to encourage small businesses nationwide to use AmEx signage in their storefronts.
As part of the campaign, American Express – along with designer Grace Bonney – created six new AmEx decals that would appeal to small business owners, then commissioned HGTV designer Emily Henderson to showcase via social media videos how small businesses can use their store’s design including signage to draw in more customers.
The campaign included a Twitter and Instagram contest calling for small business owners to post photos of their storefronts with the Love My Store decals to draw attention to both the store and the AmEx campaign.
The contest received thousands of submissions and more than 400,000 Love My Store decals were distributed, making it the most popular of all the decals AmEx has available for order.
With an assist from the ad agency KBS, TE Connectivity played upon the popularity of racing and its relationship with the Andretti Technologies’ Formula E racing team with its new campaign Engineering Racing Greatness.
The company, which works with a wide range of industries to help develop, test and manufacture components including connectors, sensors, wires and cable assemblies to transmit data, power or signals, focused on design and electronic engineers in this specific campaign, and created a series of documentary-style videos that were shown on social media ahead of the Indy 500 and the Formula E race.
TE Connectivity also sponsored Andretti Racing for NASCAR’s Indy 500 and the Formula E race, and expanded its reach by including engineers and journalists on the Andretti Racing team, opening the doorway to conversation about TE Connectivity and the role it can place in the automotive and industrial industries.
When it wanted to announce that Ryder’s first-rate fleet technicians at 400 shops nationwide were being made available to fleet managers and owner-operators outside the Ryder family, anywhere, anytime, they took to social media to make the announcement – in a very big way.
The company showed off the skills of its world-class technicians by putting a Volvo truck through a gauntlet of destruction that left the truck essentially dead. It then towed the truck to a Ryder facility, where it was lovingly restored by a team of Ryder technicians.
The project was filmed in real time and shown across social media, making transportation industry leaders aware that Ryder techs were not only among the best, but also were available to them and their fleets.
More than 313,000 YouTube views later and coverage in the top German magazine Autozeitung, Ryder had attracted the attention it was hoping for, one repair at a time.
Vonage used storytelling to help showcase its latest campaign, “It’s About Time,” aimed at repositioning the company from a B2C to a B2B business.
From the agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, the futuristic campaign is part of Vonage’s push to grow is B2B revenue by as much as 40 percent in the coming years after seeing 76 percent growth in this year’s first quarter compared to last year’s sales thanks to a bigger push into the B2B market.
“The goal is to position Vonage as a business-first cloud communications company,” Vonage CMO Ted Gilvar told Advertising Age. “Many people think of us as a consumer-first company, but we want people to walk away knowing that Vonage means business.”
The campaign’s ads – which originally appeared on TV but were shared on YouTube and Facebook, expanding its reach into social media – highlight how even the most extraordinary advances in technology – a fictional mission to Mars and self-driving cars, for example – would fall flat if video conferencing equipment failed, highlighting the importance of having the right company in place for a global business’s communication needs.
While this one is from 2014, it received an honorable mention on Advertising Age’s Best B2B social media campaigns of 2016 list, so it deserves a mention.
Nissan wanted to generate buzz surrounding its Concept 2020 Vision car, a sleek, futuristic virtual vehicle with sharp lines and sexy curves that would be making its debut in the Gran Turismo 6 video game.
Gran Turismo 6 is a virtual reality racing game designed by Polyphony Digital and published by Sony Computer Entertainment that has been around since 1998. Nissan has always been a partner, and has designed virtual cars since the game’s inception.
With the Concept 2020 Vision and Gran Turismo 6, Nissan decided to do something different to draw attention to the partnership.
With help from the ad agency inVNT, Nissan worked social media for a month, teasing fans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube before unveiling a life-sized version of the game’s virtual car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, garnering attention for both the car maker and the game it has been linked to since 1998.