A Comprehensive Guide on the B2B Effectiveness Code

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Aug 19, 2022

B2B guide on effectiveness code


The business-to-business (B2B) marketing industry has changed tremendously. It has gone way beyond the common strategy of approaching another business to sell its products and services. 

B2B marketing efforts focus more on incorporating creativity in their campaigns for long-term productivity and enhanced customer experience. 

This is precisely what the B2B effectiveness code is all about.

The B2B effectiveness code is a comprehensive study published by the B2B Institute in partnership with WARC and LIONS. The study concentrates on how B2B marketers can design their marketing campaigns more effectively with the help of "The Principle of Creative Commitment."

Based on this massive study, B2B marketers can understand how different marketing creativity can impact brands and their customers or followers. 

The B2B effectiveness code includes the principle of commitment and the B2B effectiveness ladder strategy. 

In this article, we will look at the depths of each one of them and practically see how the B2B effectiveness code works and affects marketing.

How Has B2B Marketing Changed over the Decade?

If you keenly observe the major B2B brands, you will notice how drastically their marketing strategies have changed over the last decade. They have adopted new methods, unique practices, and measures of success metrics.

The Internet became a necessity for all the services. Incorporating a company website, social media pages, paid campaigns, and new marketing channels emerged. Along with digital marketing and distribution, marketing automation was implemented to streamline communications with prospects and customers. 

Though the pandemic fueled B2B marketers to adapt to new technologies to stay in the race, some brands had a smooth ride because they had implemented the latest technologies way ahead of time.

For example, Ikea did not pause its systems for technology integrations. Instead, they implemented AR and VR for the customers to shop for furniture. The technology allowed customers to place the furniture in their surroundings and to have accurate visuals of how it may look. 

Thus, the pandemic accelerated sales for such companies rather than pausing them.

In today's times, B2B marketing efforts are about building brand reputation, providing expertise, and inventing reliable solutions. These also include enhancing customer experience and increasing retention.

Let us explore how brands are working towards achieving the best of the above marketing aspects.

The Role of Creativity, Emotion, and Fame in B2B Marketing

Every marketing campaign these days has a story to tell. It would not be wrong to say that marketing campaigns integrate B2B creativity and emotions. 

Gone are the days when B2B marketing campaigns stuck to safe and straightforward campaigns. These days, B2B marketers are ready to take risks with their B2B marketing trends and go the extra mile to include consumer-facing tactics.

In marketing campaigns, let us consider creativity; B2B creativity can never miss the mark if done correctly. B2B creativity plays an essential role when the customer is in the research phase of the buying journey. 

A survey from B2B stakeholders stated that 71% of B2B customers wanted buying experiences like business to consumer (B2C). This preference shows the necessity of creating marketing campaigns that force people to take action or campaigns that impact your brand.

Now comes the emotional aspect of B2B marketing campaigns: Creating campaigns that impact the emotional quotient of individuals is on the rise, be it B2B or B2C. 

In fact, during the pandemic, Reckitt Benckiser went a step ahead and marketed that washing hands with soap is very important to be safe. It did not encourage customers to use their products exclusively but wash hands with any soap to be safe.

As a result, the ad created an impact that has encouraged people to be safe in challenging times rather than endorsing the company’s products.

In effect, there has been a surge of unexpected emotions evoked from marketing campaigns. 

Now comes the crucial role of fame in B2B marketing: The fame of B2B brands depends on incorporating emotional quotients and top-notch creativity. This can also be mastered through the art of storytelling.

B2B campaigns have incorporated customer case studies, characters, playful voices, and fun ways to tell a story about their product. To this end, these campaigns have left an impact on the minds of the customers, and consequentially, framed these brands’ fame. 

This being the case, creativity and emotions play a vital role in shaping the tone and name of the brand, and with that being said, leads to its fame.

The Principle of Creative Commitment

Now that we know the importance of creativity in marketing effectiveness, here comes the principle of creative commitment.

Creative commitment measures media budget, duration, and the number of media channels applied. As creative commitment increases, so does marketing effectiveness.

As a result, brands need to leverage techniques to increase creative commitment. This, in return, will increase the brand's marketing effectiveness. 

Shockingly, there has been a decline in the creative commitment of brands over the past years. Though they have incorporated creativity and emotions to market their B2B campaigns, the numbers show only a subtle upswing.

When the B2B effectiveness code was analyzed, Peter Field, Independent Marketing and Advertising Consultant and co-author of the report, made a profound statement: 

"Over the past five years, the marketing and advertising industry has increasingly reduced the Creative Commitment, which significantly mitigates the return on investment. We urge that marketers and their agencies work to reverse this trend, in the interests of improving both the effectiveness of their efforts and the overall value and reputation of marketing."

We can conclude that B2B campaigns spend less, have short durations, and run on only a few media channels. This means that, as a rule, they run on tightly targeted budgets and timelines, causing the hampering of creativity and effectiveness. 

A study shows that B2B has much less creative commitment than B2C. So now, “Why is this happening?” and “Why are B2B marketers not utilizing their full capabilities?” are the questions to focus on. 

So, instead of finding tailored solutions for every B2B marketing campaign to increase creative commitment, the ultimate solution is the B2B Effectiveness Ladder.

What Is the B2B Effectiveness Ladder?

The B2B Effectiveness Ladder consists of seven effects of marketing strategies. This ladder consists of the commercial impacts on the objectives and the long-term visions of B2B marketing.

This ladder must be used to improvise and create highly effective and creative B2B marketing campaigns.

Implementing the B2B Effectiveness ladder is crucial to increasing the creative commitment in marketing campaigns. 

We will be describing the seven different effects of the B2B Effectiveness Ladder in detail.

Result of Responses

What is the one thing that leads to successful marketing campaigns? 

A trigger of responses.

The most critical effect of a successful B2B marketing campaign is to drive high rates of responses and interaction.

Some of the different types of online and offline responses for B2B campaigns include

  • Clicks
  • Website/Page visits
  • Downloads (brochures, whitepapers. Infographics, and more.)
  • Physical footprints at events
  • Online webinar attendance

These responses convey that the campaign has worked well, even if it has not performed well commercially

This response effect is essential to show and enhance your presence in front of your customers.

Generate Qualified Leads

Once you have received positive responses for the campaigns, it's time to focus on generating qualified leads. 

Please note the emphasis on the word “qualified” because only qualified leads will turn to quality B2B sales leads. So, if you have triggered positive responses for your campaign, there are high chances that the campaign has generated quality leads. Now, the only work of B2B marketers is to provide these qualified leads to the sales team for conversions.

Another effect of the B2B effectiveness ladder is to generate qualified leads from the triggered responses.

Conversion and Sales

The next step of the ladder is to close the deal. Once you have triggered responses and conveyed the qualified leads to the B2B sales department, it's time to target them for conversions.

The lead generation campaigns having a correct, attractive, and direct sales message see many conversions. This measurable effect ensures a long-term and positive B2B sales outcome.

Build Long Term Plans

The B2B effectiveness study has noted that B2B marketers focus on the general approach of marketing that consists of generated responses, leads, and conversions. These are defined as the short-term goals for marketing. They fulfill the existing demands of the market. So is this enough?

Shouldn’t marketing goals be long-term? Shouldn't they target future customers, who may not be a part of the market currently?

This is where B2B marketing campaigns lose their focus. There are seldom brands that focus on building long-term marketing plans. What they need to understand is that markets that focus on creating long-term demands promise long-term growth in terms of sales and brand value.

Create a Strong Structure

Your marketing campaign needs a strong structure if you plan to target future customers. Strongly structured content can target interested audiences easily and enhance brand value.

Also, strong structured content ensures that the emotional connect, creativity, and brand message align with the marketing campaign.

There should also be metrics designated to evaluate the success of the structured content. This will allow you curate different structures according to the market scenarios and see which one performs the best.

Establish a Brand Value

The establishment of brand value is a crucial marketing tool like conversion and sales. 

Your brand should speak for itself. 

For example, the brands like Intel and Norton are treated as synonyms for their products.  As was the case for these iconic brands, establishing a brand value must entail a focused approach.

When the brand speaks for itself, it makes a mark in the mind of the people. Even if, they don’t need your services now, they may remember you when they do!

Remember, marketing campaigns have been proven to make a long-term impact on the viewers and customers in regard to sales. Many times, marketing campaigns are identified by the brands and vice versa. So, design a marketing campaign that speaks for your brand and, of course, establishes an incredible brand value.

 Be Exemplary

When you design out-of-the-box marketing campaigns, they become long-term strategic assets for your company. They can be re-purposed to generate sales and revenue. In addition, they act as a part of your long-term goals and visions.

These incredible marketing campaigns can tell the story of your brand. And when a brand has a fascinating story to tell, it becomes exemplary!

As can be seen, all you have to do is design versatile, creative, and unique B2B marketing campaigns to leave a permanent mark. 

When your brand sets an example for others to follow, you have reached the top of the brand effectiveness ladder!

How to Use the B2B Effectiveness Ladder Correctly

The primary purpose of the B2B effectiveness ladder is to generate creative campaign initiatives. 

You already know the ladder's steps, but let us elaborate on how to climb them effectively. 

To use the ladder effectively, you must ensure that;

  • You measure the outcomes of your marketing campaigns at every step of the ladder. Also, you need to ensure that the marketing campaign meets the desired results and that it shows winning behaviors.
  • It would be best to not think of the ladder as a stone structure but to treat it as an improvement tool for campaigns. The ladder should be changed according to the organization's marketing practices and target audiences.

Now, let us perform a step-by-step analysis of the B2B Effectiveness Ladder.

Level 1 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

The first step, triggering a response, implies that the marketing campaign must motivate the customer to take a certain kind of online or offline action. It is regarded as the coveted behavior of the first step.

The following behavior should be analyzed to determine the success metrics of the first steps:

  • Response Rate
  • Website/Pageviews
  • Clicks
  • Content downloads
  • Webinar attendance
  • Physical footprint at an event
  • Interaction with the brand on various platforms

Thus, the success of the above metrics shows that the campaign is successful and that it ensures a positive outcome. 

Just be sure that these metrics see a winning behavior in an allotted amount of time.

Example:

Fuji Xerox, New Zealand, and Haus of Versant hosted a fashion show wherein models wore clothes made of paper. But the uniqueness was in that these paper outfits were made from paper printed using Fuji Xerox's new, digital printing press.

The fashion show was a hit and had an attendance of 110% and a response rate of 47%.

Level 2 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

Lead generation campaigns should concentrate on generating quality leads for the sales team. Though quality is essential, quantity should not take a backseat. 

Design lead generation campaigns should motivate customers to take action and express their interests in the services at hand.

You will know that your B2B lead generation campaign has a winning behavior if the following metrics show success:

  • Increase in qualified leads
  • Growth in the sales pipeline
  • Increase in inbound inquiries
  • Reduced cost per lead.

Lead generation is a short-term marketing trend. It meets the current needs of the market and the customers. Treat it as a short-term marketing plan and plan long-term strategies parallel to the campaign.

Example

Verizon USA created a spider graph for IT companies to provide them with a glimpse of their company and the related industry. It provided actionable insights to prepare for the implementation of 5G. This lead-generation campaign led to a 400% increase in qualified leads.

Level 3 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

Closing-the-deals campaigns concentrate more on conversions. These campaigns are designed around the fact that they will, without a doubt, generate revenue. 

The success of the closing-the-deal level depends on the following:

  • Increase in sales figures
  • Increase in market shares
  • High revenue and Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Reduction of cost per sale

Again, sale closing deals are a part of the short-term marketing strategy. They concentrate on converting current customers. As a rule, they should be planned in parallel with the long-term strategy.

Example:

Google's Project Re: Briefly emphasized the importance of display advertising for advertising and media agencies. It executed this strategy by creating the iconic ads of the 60s and 70s by utilizing today's digital technology. It led to a 35% increase in display sales ads.

Level 4 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

As stated earlier, B2B marketers emphasize short-term strategies and goals. This is a hurdle in the company's growth as well as the creativity of marketing campaigns.

Design marketing campaigns for impact so that even prospects have your brand's name in mind whenever they need the marketed services.

In order to strategize ad campaigns for the future, B2B marketers must

  • Generate campaigns or brand awareness for prospects.
  • Reach out to news channels and media agencies to stay in the loop.
  • Be active on various platforms to create a regular impact on the audience.

The above planning ensures the desired behavior for the current and future customers. It also allows for increasing the reach and engagement of the campaign.

Example:

State Street Global Advisors USA was trending globally when they placed a statue of a fearless girl in front of the iconic bull in front of Manhattan's financial district. They wanted to show that women should be promoted and included in business leadership. It was a campaign that garnered millions of social media impressions and was the talk of the entire world.

Level 5 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

Whether you plan a short-term or a long-term strategy, you need to have a robust campaign framework. The following questions should be asked and answered before working on the marketing campaign:

  • Who are you planning the campaign for? Who is your target audience?
  • What is their position in the sales funnel or buying journey?
  • Is it a brand awareness campaign or a conversion one?
  • What is the budget and duration of the campaign?

These questions and more should form the basis of your strategy. Once you construct a strong structure for your campaigns, it will undoubtedly result in you meeting your long-term and short-term goals.

Example:

KBC Bank in Belgium asked communities across Belgium about the requirement of shops or products in their areas. Then they connected with the entrepreneurs and gave them the relevant ideas. The bank found 171,000 market gaps and became one of the most popular websites for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Level 6 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

B2B brand advertising campaigns are designed to improve the brand's health, to create awareness and to enhance the brand value. These campaigns are designed to create a brand name that leaves a mark in the customer's mind.

In addition, these campaigns are curated around the changes or improvements that take place in the brand, products, or services.

The following metrics suggest that your B2B brand-building campaign is a success:

  • Increase in brand value
  • Increase in brand awareness
  • Increase in engagements and followers
  • An impactful strategy of the campaign

B2B brand advertising and brand building is a continuous process. Accordingly, regular campaigns are built to strengthen or improve the brand's value. An ever-improving and enhanced brand will generate more sales and result in loyal customers.

Example:

Network UK triggered a rise in newspaper advertisements when they argued that the Internet was not killing newspapers. They clearly stated that the Internet granted them opportunities to reach a broader audience and be more accessible. As a result, the internet was seen as more of a friend than a foe.

Level 7 Analysis and Correct Outcomes (with Example)

When the effectiveness and efficiency of your campaigns increase, it means that you are establishing an example for others to follow. Your brand is identified as exemplary when the campaigns achieve impeccable results.

Brand building takes time and making your footprint takes longer. Nonetheless, there are brands out there who have achieved outstanding results thanks to their incredible marketing campaigns.

If you want to know whether you are on the right path, you must measure the following metrics. But remember, for brand building, these measurements should be considered for around one to three years:

  • The number of leads generated.
  • Measure brand's value
  • Increase in sales and market shares
  • ROI on marketing investment

Once your brand achieves this status, there is no looking back. All you have to do is re-strategize the B2B effectiveness ladder to maintain the levels of success.

Example:

Maersk, the logistics market leader, wanted to tell its customers that they have developed a more customer-centric approach. In response, they released a series of films and marketing initiatives that offered an emotional connection to their customers. These marketing campaigns focus on the central idea that it is as easy to ship a container across the world as it is to send parcels.

This campaign led to a 32% increase in revenue. As a result, the company remained the market leader in logistics, leveraged its brand value, and moved to be the second most valuable Danish brand in any category.

The Ultimate Strategy for Long-Term Results

The B2B effectiveness code study led to one, common conclusion. This is that brands are being creative enough and are building plans for short terms. 

 This is not enough to increase the effectiveness in their sales and marketing revenues.

Generating more sales and enhancing brand value is only possible if B2B marketers concentrate on long-term plans and incorporate emotionally-driven campaigns.

In effect, the B2B effectiveness ladder should be taken seriously and incorporated by brands to increase the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns.

Our Suggestions

The B2B Effectiveness Code", from WARC, LIONS, and LinkedIn's B2B Institute is a perfect framework for improved investment. Your marketing strategies need to incorporate "The Principle of Creative Commitment" and the "B2B effectiveness ladder" to make your team a true strategic asset for your organization.

Once you let your team's imaginative minds flourish, these strategic assets will yield more significant rewards and achieve incredible levels of success and effectiveness.

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