The Science of Selling to Businesses: Lessons From the Best B2B Ads

Advertising is all about attracting audience attention. But wooing individual consumers and convincing entire businesses to choose your product or service are not the same thing. B2B advertising and B2C advertising are not the same thing! Because with B2B ads and campaigns, you’re not targeting impulsive individual consumers, but thoughtful decision-makers within organizations. The stakes are higher, the transactions are bigger, and building credibility and trust takes center stage.

So, if you’re a B2B business owner who can relate to this or a marketer ready to unlock the secrets of effective B2B advertising, then this blog is for you. 

We’ll delve into the key differences between B2B and B2C advertising, explore the art of crafting compelling B2B ads, and talk about valuable hacks to create professional and reliable campaigns that resonate with your target audience. 

Ready to unlock the secrets of B2B advertising? Let’s get the ball rolling! 

B2B Vs. B2C Marketing – Decoding the Key Differences

  • As mentioned earlier, the most crucial distinction lies in the target audience. B2B marketing focuses on other businesses, with specific decision-makers within departments. Whereas, B2C marketing targets individual consumers. B2C decisions might involve a family discussion, with perhaps one or two key influencers. However, B2B purchases often involve larger buying groups within an organization. Therefore, getting approval from everyone in the group is crucial. 
  • The second big difference is the driving force behind purchase decisions in both cases. With study shows that about 86% of purchase decisions by consumers tend to be based on emotional drivers. However, B2B buyers tend to prioritize rational decision-making, focusing on concrete benefits and the measurable impact on their business. Therefore, your B2B ad messaging needs to be fine-tuned to address these needs. 
  • Another key difference lies in the language used for each audience. B2B ads can include industry-specific terms and technical jargon, as the target audience is likely familiar with this language. However, B2C ads should be clear, concise, and avoid complicated terminology.

Now that we’ve explored these core differences, let’s look at some B2B ads and campaigns that have effectively mastered the art of selling to businesses. 

6 B2B Marketing Strategies to Take Away From the Best B2B Ads & Campaigns 

1. IBM’s A Boy And His Atom short film – going the extra mile 

“A Boy and His Atom” is a stop-motion animation short film created by IBM Researchers almost a decade ago. And it still stands as one of the best B2B ads of all time because of IBM’s decision to go the extra mile in showcasing their strengths. 

Made on an atomic scale, this one grew to become “the world’s smallest stop-motion film”. The intention here was to showcase their expertise in shrinking the size of data storage. For this, they moved carbon monoxide molecules using a scanning tunneling microscope to create this stop motion video where each frame measured 45 by 25 nanometers. 

The ad primarily utilized online channels like YouTube and social media platforms.  This approach allowed for a global reach. Moreover, it targeted the tech-savvy audience most interested in scientific advancements and made quite an impact on them. The proof lies in the fact that the video garnered about 2 million views within 48 hours of being uploaded. 

To supplement the impact of the short film, IBM also released a behind-the-scenes video. It shows the effort that went into making the film and communicates that this is a company that leaves no stone unturned. That’s a good side to show B2B buyers! 

2. Clickup’s commercials – leveraging humor 

Humor is perhaps the last emotion that comes to mind when you think of B2B ads. However, Clickup, a project management software company, has mastered the art of using humor to connect with B2B audiences in their marketing campaigns. 

They have some of the most hilarious and relatable B2B ads to learn from. For example, in the below video, they showcase the struggles of a business and the solutions they provide but in a comical way. Metaphorical representations, simple language and relatable business jargon together help communicate the idea effectively. 

In the crowded B2B marketplace, humor acts as Clickup’s trump card to stand out. And what makes this work is their consistent use of humor as the brand tone of voice across their many campaigns. Like the below video that promotes Clickup Whiteboards. 

3. Mailchimp’s “Did you mean Mailchimp?” campaign – a multi-faceted approach 

For B2B ads and campaigns to work, a multi-faceted approach can be a big boost. For the “Did you mean Mailchimp?” campaign, the company created a series of nine seemingly unrelated projects, the name of each cleverly rhyming with “Mailchimp.” 

The campaign also integrated a page search campaign with real searches for respective brands leading to the Mailchimp page. And the inspiration for this reportedly came from some instances of mispronunciation of the brand name. 

Building on this idea, the brand took over various cultural spaces. For example, there was a brand called “FailChips” promoting broken potato chips as the best snacks of 2017. The SnailPrimp, MaleCrimp, and NailChamp projects ventured into the world of fashion & beauty. 

From the logos to web pages and digital presence of the respective brands, every little detail masked the original Mailchimp identity eventually building momentum. The brand took a truly multi-faceted approach for this campaign promoting the idea through billboards, subway station ads, social media posts and so much more. 

The result? It ended up creating something monumental for the Mailchimp brand. And established Mailchimp’s name in the B2B market. 

KIMP Tip: While the brand created wholesome ads for each project, notice how subtly each visual connects with the other. Such cohesive aesthetics are what help tie back multi-channel campaigns to a brand. And in this case, the cohesiveness of the visuals is what helped lead back to the Mailchimp brand. 

Need help creating visually consistent marketing collateral for your multi-channel campaigns? Get KIMP

4. When Slack combined sarcasm and storytelling 

A few years ago, Slack released a video titled “So Yeah, We Tried Slack …”. Evidently, this is meant to be a video that showcases the real experiences of people who tried Slack. However, what made this stand out as one of the most iconic B2B ads is that instead of going with a traditional documentary, Slack crafted a mockumentary. 

The video combines sarcasm and storytelling to throw the spotlight on common communication challenges in the workplace. They focus on how siloed channels for communication, file sharing, etc. can lead to difficulties in the long run and how Slack can help overcome these difficulties. While maintaining a humorous tone throughout the video highlights various game-changing features of Slack. Additionally, the video also establishes that Slack can help bridge communication gaps in the workplace and streamline all conversations. 

The core strength of this campaign lies in its focus on user pain points. Through this Slack connects with a wide audience who have likely experienced similar communication frustrations. Furthermore, the use of everyday characters discussing real-life workplace challenges fosters a sense of connection with viewers. 

This ad shows how relatable storytelling can effectively communicate your message while strong emotional factors, like humor in this case, can enhance the memorability of B2B ads. 

5. SAP Business AI: “Office Cat” – talking about trends 

The key to grabbing attention with B2B ads is to talk about trends – the hot topic that B2B buyers are all talking about. Currently, AI is one such trend that has attracted the attention of nearly every business owner. Hence SAP created a cool ad that hops on this trend and discusses the role played by AI in the business world. 

The commercial opens with one of the most commonly known applications of AI in recent times, generating art. But then you see the animated cat move on to demonstrate some practical applications of AI in factories like notifying about supply shortage and identifying defects. The ad communicates the idea that AI is meant to enhance productivity in the workplace by helping employees make decisions faster 

6. GfK’s “Human vs AI” debate – answering common questions 

GfK’s “Human vs. AI” campaign is a prime example of using innovation to create campaigns that speak for your brand. Holding a strong place in the list of award-winning B2B ads in recent times, this campaign aimed to establish the brand as a thought leader in the field of AI integration. And the video below achieves this effortlessly. 

The campaign centered around a video debate featuring GfK’s CMO, Gonzalo Garcia Villanueva, and ChatGPT. This unique format sparked curiosity and positioned GfK as a frontrunner in embracing cutting-edge technology. However, the video also concluded by highlighting the fact that AI still has its limitations and cannot fully replace the human workforce. 

The brand also invested heavily in paid media, influencer campaigns and other advertising channels to boost this campaign. Overall, this resulted in garnering about 7 million impressions for the brand and brought a significant boost to GfK’s brand awareness. 

GfK’s bold and innovative campaign demonstrates the power of unconventional approaches in B2B ads! This campaign also shows how informative content that answers common questions can help keep the audience hooked. The video in the picture, while also showcasing the debate, gives solid answers that any business owner or marketer would benefit from. 

Building on the takeaways from these ads, let’s also talk about a few general tips to keep in mind when crafting B2B ads. And launching campaigns that actually convert! 

Crafting the Best B2B Ads: Tips to Turn Ideas into Attention-Grabbing Campaigns

1. Leverage the power of catchy visuals 

Business owners and marketers are well-aware of the fact that visuals have become indispensable elements in advertising. B2B advertising is no exception. You need catchy designs in the form of banner ads, emails, social media posts, and more. 

B2B marketing often relies on data and technical specifications. However, communicating raw information like this can be challenging. Engaging visuals can help break through this barrier and make your ad more digestible and memorable.

But yes, since your business clients might have plenty of options to choose from, you need high-quality custom graphics to stand out. Cliched stock photos are not going to help! 

For more insights into the types of B2B marketing designs you need, check out our blog here

2. Cut to the chase and show what you are offering 

Clarity is key when it comes to B2B ads. Don’t keep consumers guessing about what you offer or scratching their heads unable to decipher the message in your ad. Because B2B buyers are often busy professionals with limited time. Therefore getting to the point quickly is crucial for capturing their attention and conveying the value proposition of your product or service.

Take the below ad for Google AI for example. This one targets business owners looking to advertise their business using Google Ads. Instead of beating about the bush, the video gives a quick snapshot of the things that advertisers would be able to do with Google AI for advertising. 

3. Choose the optimal mix of distribution platforms for your B2B ads 

Even the most carefully designed B2B ads do not bring the conversions you envision if you do not choose the right distribution channels for them. 

Whether you go online or offline or a bit of both depends on the objectives of your campaign and also on where your target audiences are. Sometimes, a billboard in the industrial areas works. Other times, subway ads can appeal to professionals in their daily commute. Most of the time, online ads help deliver measurable results and are easily scalable too. 

In short, all these platforms have their own benefits. Hence, you often need an good mix of diverse marketing channels to place your B2B ads for maximum reach and conversions. 

For example, Zoho is a reputed company offering web-based business tools. However, they occasionally place outdoor ads like the billboard here. This is to help expand their presence beyond the internet realm. 

Similarly, come up with a strategic mix of channels to ensure that your message reaches the decision-makers most likely to be interested in your offering. Moreover, choosing multiple relevant channels also helps build brand awareness and keeps your company top-of-mind for potential customers. 

Design Attention-Grabbing B2B Ads With KIMP 

In conclusion, creating persuasive B2B ads takes a blend of creativity, data-driven insights, and a deep understanding of your target audience. And visuals lie at the forefront of the execution of these ideas. 

However, keeping up with the constant demand for fresh and engaging ad creative can be a challenge. This is where an unlimited design service like KIMP can be your winning strategy. KIMP subscriptions can be that cost-effective move to elevate your B2B advertising workflow by providing you with a stream of unlimited designs for a flat monthly fee. 

Besides, you can also add as many team members as you like so that all your stakeholders are in the loop! 

Ready to test the potential of an unlimited design service for your B2B business? Register now for a free 7-day trial!