Digital Marketing

5 Refreshing Examples of Imaginative B2B Marketing To Inspire You in 2021

Person by winter campfire and illuminated tent under tall snowy pines.

Person by winter campfire and illuminated tent under tall snowy pines.

What will it take in 2021 for B2B marketers to break through the mundane and reach the sublime?

Post-pandemic success isn’t likely to come for those who settle for the same old B2B marketing efforts, even if some do have a lengthy track-record.

Looking ahead to an as-yet unknown new B2B marketing landscape can be a bit of a guessing game, however examining powerful award-winning marketing efforts can at least offer us a glimpse of how imaginative storytelling on a global scale is likely to play a greater role in what eventually emerges.

Let’s jump right in and take a look at five examples of the type of imaginative and refreshing marketing efforts that may play a greater role in the future of B2B marketing.

1 — IBM’s Code & Response

IBM Image

IBM Image

IBM used an original documentary 73-minute film to celebrate the creativity and compassion of tech developers around the world, and the effort led to the company’s IBM Developer unit launching a four-year Code and Response initiative aimed at helping communities needing critical aid.

IBM’s 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge encourages developers to build solutions for everything from COVID-19 to climate change, and offers an open-source technical library filled with online tutorials, code, and tactical insight.

The film has won more than 80 awards from The Webby Awards to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and is part of a broad campaign that incorporates a wide variety of digital imagery, video, social promotion, a dedicated micro-site, and more.

2 — SAP’s Tech Unknown

SAP Image

SAP Image

Our client SAP’s ongoing #TechUnknown podcast series — hosted by Tamara McCleary — has utilized industry experts to drive fascinating discussions “From the Edge of Next” in an easy to consume entertaining and educational  format.

Recent episodes explore intelligent spend management, why employee experience matters in a newly remote world, and how intelligent analytics can help unearth hidden treasure in business data.

A case study, “B2B Podcast Engages Thought Leaders, Reaches Millions, Smashes Download Benchmarks by Double-Digits,” also digs into the podcast series and its continuing success.

3 — Microsoft’s Changing the Game

Microsoft Immortal Awards Image

Microsoft Immortal Awards Image

Garnering over a billion impressions, Microsoft’s vast and award-winning Changing the Game initiative centered around the company’s efforts to help gamers of all abilities play and compete in new ways.

Incorporating social media efforts, mainstream media conversations, and a Super Bowl spot, Microsoft’s efforts surrounding the launch of its Xbox Adaptive Controller show a glimpse of how post-pandemic marketing campaigns may increasingly look.

Changing the Game continues to pull in awards, including the recent The One Show 2020 CMO Pencil for Microsoft chief brand officer Kathleen Hall.

“The success of the campaign stems from the XAC being true to our DNA, from how the product was developed at a hackathon to sharing it with the world at the Super Bowl through the stories of real children, showcasing that ‘When everybody plays, we all win.’,” Hall noted.

4 — Omidyar Network / Thomson Reuters Foundation’s #COVID-19: The Bigger Picture

Omidyar Image

Omidyar Image

Impact investment firm The Omidyar Network — established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar — and the Thomson Reuters Foundation joined together for #COVID-19: The Bigger Picture, a photojournalism initiative examining the human impact of the pandemic.

The project incorporates a five-part series of photo essays and a global photography award, and highlights the increasing importance powerful visual digital assets will have in marketing during 2021 and beyond.

It also speaks to how a bespoke awards event can create additional engagement opportunities, as we outlined for client Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) in “Case Study: Unique Influencer Content Campaign Drives Awareness, Engagement, and 6-Figure Leads.”

“This pandemic is a global crisis like no other, affecting every person on the planet,” Antonio Zappulla, Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO observed. “The world is grappling daily to understand its scale and severity against an onslaught of information and misinformation. It has never been more critical to lean on the power of journalism excellence to cut through the noise with accurate and impartial storytelling. With the Foundation’s legacy and global reach, we are proud to be part of such a critical and innovative project,” Zappulla added.

5 — GoDaddy’s 2020 Global Entrepreneurship Survey

GoDaddy Image

GoDaddy Image

For its 2020 Global Entrepreneurship Survey, GoDaddy sought to learn how the global health crisis has affected businesses, and reached out to more than 5,000 small business owners worldwide in an effort that produced a 35-page report, a series of videos, and other social-media-friendly content.

How B2B firms conduct business with small businesses can be a microcosm of the broader B2B marketing landscape, and GoDaddy’s survey offers a variety of helpful insight including findings showing that one in six have begun a new venture during the pandemic.

“This underscores the resilience of the entrepreneurial spirit and offers some hopeful insight into their collective future,” Melissa Schneider, GoDaddy vice president of global marketing operations observed.

Slingshot Your Post-Pandemic Marketing To New Heights

via GIPHY

The examples we’ve looked at here from IBM, SAP, Microsoft, Omidyar Network / Thomson Reuters Foundation, GoDaddy and others can help inspire us as we make the move to 2021, and by using some of the award-winning methods these firms have harnessed, we can better adapt to an eventual post-pandemic B2B marketing landscape.

We hope you’ve found at least a few new B2B marketing ideas among those we’ve gone into here, that you’ll find them useful as you create new campaigns, and that they’ll also help build your own team’s knowledge.

If you are looking for help with your own B2B marketing efforts, check out our new groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, and contact us to find out why top brands from Adobe and LinkedIn to Dell and AT&T have chosen TopRank Marketing.