B2Beyond Marketing



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B2Beyond Marketing

Brands are embracing their humanity, taking inspiration from other sectors and thinking more broadly about effectively marketing to people first and buyers second. 

About This Trend:

B2B companies used to operate under the logic that the most effective way to market their products and services was through trade shows, magazines, and targeted networking situations that ignored a simple fact: B2B buyers are humans first, and buyers second.

Take the example of Sysco: The restaurants and healthcare facilities food supplier used to dedicate most of its marketing budget to attending trade shows or advertising in industry publications, but decided to make a bold move and establish a partnership with the The Food Network chef Robert Irvine (star of the restaurant makeover show Restaurant Impossible), who became an official Sysco brand ambassador. Since that time, he has spotlighted the quality of Sysco’s ingredients and the importance of those ingredients in running a quality restaurant in nearly every episode.

The logic behind this decision was simple: The Food Network’s ratings data shows that one of the most popular times of the day for viewing is the usually dead midnight to 4am time slot, which could be due to the fact that restaurant owners are getting home and decompressing in those hours. When other data shows that 70% of independent restaurant owners watch The Food Network at least once a week, it becomes clear that Sysco is making an effort to connect with the restaurant owners in a less conventional way that speaks to their more human side.

Stories & Examples

  • General Electric has invested heavily in humanizing its marketing messages: A new set of TV spots launched in 2015, for example, focus on the human side of GE. One called “Childlike Imagination” features real employees’ children describing what their parents do at GE as part of the company’s emotional employee engagement effort.
  • Last year construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar scored big with a video campaign featuring a collection of industrial moving equipment facing off in an epic Jenga game. The video has 3 million views to date. Caterpillar global brand creative director Archie Lyons that the point was “to take the Cat brand on the offensive. We are a large, Fortune 50 company … we want to go from cold, corporate and conservative to human, relevant and approachable.”
  • Brands are increasingly building around people, not consumers: Builders Hanley Wood awarded Marvin Windows their B2B Marketer of the Year award for the “Built Around You” campaign, which spoke directly to buyers who use their products when building homes. Glass supplier PPG launched a series of explainer videos about glass and windows featuring a consumer-friendly character named “Glenn the Glass Guy” explaining how to select the right type of window and comparing the thermal performance of the brand’s different options.

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