Defining the Future of B2B Strategy

Fran Cassidy, IPA consultant and Founder of Cassidy Media Partnership, introduces The Future of B2B Effectiveness Working Group, from IPA EffWorks and LinkedIn.

The evidence base for successful advertising and marketing in the B2C sector has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. In 2021 EffWorks will be focussing one of its major workstreams on an area that will add to this evidence base and one that still holds extraordinary potential - the B2B sector. We want to shine a brilliant light on the powerful, exciting, influential and successful stories that lie within this huge marketplace.

We will highlight the work of existing talented practitioners and encourage more brands in the sector to come forward and share their successes. Not only will this help to build the evidence base and highlight successful strategies, but it will help us to create a new “Guide for successful B2B Cases” which will be published ahead of the launch of the next IPA Effectiveness Awards this Autumn. Comprising a video, presentation and document, we believe this will encourage additional B2B entrants to the IPA awards in 2022 and also, critically, could provide extremely useful guidance for B2B marketers in the creation of business cases for their internal marketing budget processes for 2022 and beyond.

We are creating a B2B practitioner Steering Group to share issues and solutions on a range of B2B marketing topics. Over the next year the group will focus on areas such as long term results, large business effects, the demonstration of the role of the brand and of critical decisions made by marketing in senior management. We will also examine existing successful B2B cases and what made them stand out.

Whilst some of the challenges that face B2B marketers are the same as those in B2C, there are often key differences which they need to address. We will be looking at those differences by looking at the existing evidence and also hearing from experienced participants on how they demonstrate the effect of their work on areas such as:

  • pricing improvements of products and services
  • step changes in relationships with intermediaries and broader stakeholders
  • product development
  • influencing the wider buying networks in purchasing teams
  • cash flow and investor relations
  • talent acquisition.

Naturally we would also look for evidence of the commercial effect of excellent creative work, especially that which moves away from the standardised ‘rational’ category norms that are often seen across the sector. Our discussions will include the optimal ways to brief partners to deliver that work and, of course, on how to measure it. As in the B2C sector, metrics selection and accessing the right datasets are fundamental. We will examine the optimal approaches and issues faced for measurement on areas such as:

  • Share
  • Sales Growth
  • Category standout
  • Value Perception

Critically, we will also be looking at the use of broader datasets – away from hyper targetted campaigns, often prevalent in this sector, to those balanced with “category or broad segment reach”.

Of course, virtually all brands have a B2B element – from FMCG products’ relationships with retailers, to the distribution partners vital for financial and IT services organisations. These are critical to commercial success and are hardly ever analysed or measured. So we believe that this kind of evidence would also be of benefit to B2C marketers also. Evidence related to areas such as pricing and cash flow will also add to the IPA’s knowledge bank in strengthening the relationship between the marketing and finance functions.

As well as the Guide in the Autumn, the EffWorks Conference will include a session where we celebrate the excellence in the sector and hear from Group participants who will share the stand out lessons and solutions they have learnt. We are delighted that LinkedIn’s B2B Institute has agreed to partner with us on this project and share its findings across its global network.

Last updated 10 November 2021