There has always been the misconception that B2B marketing is boring and that B2C is where ad execs go to execute their creative wiles. However, some well-known B2B companies have successfully thought outside the box and can inspire you to do the same.
Volvo Trucks: Epic Split (Live Test) video
Even people who hardly watch television will probably recognise this mesmerising campaign by Volvo Trucks, one of the world’s largest B2B trucking companies. We’re talking about “The Epic Split (Live Test)” video that captured the imagination of internet users. The viral video shows action powerhouse Jean-Claude van Damme perched atop two reversing Volvo Trucks with one foot placed on each truck. The trucks begin to slowly move apart from each other as the soaring “Only Time” from Enya starts to play in the background. Van Damme calmly maintains his composure as he descends into a perfectly balanced split.
See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10
You might think that this ad has nothing to do with Volvo Trucks but in fact it perfectly showcased the steadfastness and directional precision of the vehicles. Subconsciously, when not distracted by Van Damme’s prowess, we all noticed it.
What it teaches us
This campaign is a great example of how you can use an idea that is seemingly not related to your product to demonstrate the best features of what you’re selling.
Shell Oil: short films
Royal Dutch Shell, better known as Shell Oil, not only sells fuel for use at gas stations but also provides fuel for large aircraft, shipping and boating industries, and road haulage companies. Shell has an immense history under its belt. This multinational oil and gas company first saw the light in 1907 which means that Shell is now almost a hundred years old. As Shell was starting to make its way towards becoming a household name during the 1930s, the boom in the car industry meant more competition from other similar brands.
To raise their profile during this time, they created a documentary film by the name of “Airport” (1934) with the help of filmmaker John Grierson. This film was dedicated to a day in the life of London’s Croydon Airport, at the time one of the busiest in the world. Their first foray into documentary filmmaking was a huge success, so much so that the film was adopted into school curricula as well as being shown at universities, colleges and other international institutions. The company went on to create the Shell Film Unit and have released more than 50 short documentaries since its inception. Their award-winning “Climate of Concern” short film from 1991 was one of the first films to highlight climate change and how the world should be dealing with its effects. To this day Shell’s Film Unit continues to release informative short films about global issues including poverty, climate change and exciting new innovations.
What it teaches us
These early short films from Shell focused on awareness of mechanical marvels and the plight of human beings worldwide. It was less about promoting the company itself and more about informing the public on global issues. The company made an effort to not shamelessly product place their own brand in any of its short films, even the Shell logo only ever appears at the end of the films. This shows that it isn’t always necessary to put the brand front and centre when the message being conveyed helps companies to relate.
Xerox: A World Made Simpler…
See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEnRQAz2Fqg
Xerox is a company that has become, and remain, a household name even after nearly a hundred years in the industry. The word “Xerox” has become synonymous with copying documents, even when not using their products.
Their “A World Made Simpler…by Xerox” campaign aimed to make companies aware that they do not only manufacture copiers and only do copying. In the video they utilised the imagery of copied documents to showcase how they are making the world simpler through data streamlining, the creation of anti-counterfeit products, communication solutions during natural disasters, and more. The video was linked to a mini site showing stories of innovation within business, research projects, blog posts and expert advice.
What it teaches us
B2B companies can learn a lot from the manner in which Xerox communicates the way in which their products solve problems in the real world. They are using the classic problem-solution way of selling as well as brand recognition whilst adding a creative punch.
Adobe is a computer software company best known for its highly successful designing tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, and also its introduction of PDF to the world. However, these aren’t the only products that Adobe offers.
To make more people aware of their digital marketing solutions (aimed specifically at companies), Adobe created the CMO.com website. The site serves as a resource for digital marketers with curated content from all over the web as well as unique posts from a staff of hired writers. This helped to establish Adobe as a thought leader within the digital marketing industry and also changed companies’ perception of Adobe as the purveyor of design tools for the masses.
What it teaches us
Don’t always rely on your superstar products to carry the business. Every product you sell should have the potential to shine, otherwise why are you selling them? Use content as a means to establish your company as a leader in your area of expertise. This way your knowledge is automatically associated with your products.