Skip to content

96 | Unlocking growth in B2B: Navigating all-weather marketing and creative success

27 min listen

For those who couldn't join our event with the LinkedIn B2B Institute last month, you're in for a treat. 

Joined by leaders in the industry, Cathrin Pfeiffer, Jennifer Shaw Sweet and Katie Groon, we get to grips with some brilliant research and insights covering: 

 All-Weather Marketing
What are the most effective ways to drive success during disruption?

Bringing Creativity to the CFO
How do you prove the value of creativity in marketing strategies?

Any burning questions we've not answered? Get in touch at and we'll answer your question on the next episode! 


View the full transcript here

96 | Unlocking growith in B2B: Navigating all-weather marketing and creative success

Harry Radcliffe: Hello and welcome to the Tech Marketing Podcast. We have an extra special episode this week recorded live from the LinkedIn office. After hosting our first event with the LinkedIn B2B Institute, we were lucky enough to have EMEA lead Jennifer Shaw suite presenting some brilliant research from the B2B Institute around two key areas.

All weather marketing and the financial case for creativity.

Jon Busby: I'm joined in a, in the LinkedIn office today actually by Jennifer Shaw-Sweet who is the EMEA lead for the LinkedIn B2B Institute who's delivered all of our research today. So I'm really interested to pick your brains. Also, Katie Groon, who's the our agency lead of the independent agencies at LinkedIn.

Yeah, you've gotta say something now, Katie, I've announced you and I'm very pleased to be also joined by Cathrin Pfeiffer. EMEA Demand Generation Director at NetSuite. So, thank you all for joining us in the room.

Our first session this morning was based on. Or weather marketing. So one question I'm eager to ask.

It's been one of the hottest dunes on record here. I think we've had the hottest few days in July we've ever had in history. But what's everyone's temperature check on how it's feeling in the B2B space? If you were to give it an outlook, how would you describe it? Love that segue.

Jen Shaw-Sweet: So I think it's interesting because my role's EMEA, so I'm looking all the way across geographies.

I'm observing two things, which is that those markets that were first down, Are actually starting to show signs of recovery. And that's really exciting because that would make this a very short dip. I don't think it is a short dip, but I think that there'll be wobbles in that dip. Where things are a bit healthier.

And the other thing I've noticed in the B2B space specifically is that there are very resilient industries in the B2B space. So when one part of B2B goes down, another one goes up. So the unsurprising ones are things like insurance and consultancy and accounting do very well when the market's down because everyone lurches towards stability and investment in B2B.

Lurches towards stability, but the industries that you wouldn't expect that are doing really well at the moment, things like healthcare. And Meditech. And also places areas of business where they lost a huge amount of headcount to maybe sexier industries for a while actually are showing a huge recovery.

And then the other thing that I've really noticed over the last few months, I'd say maybe the last four months is that the recruitment. Environment in B2B has switched around a lot. A lot of people in tech suddenly became available and. Dare I say, affordable. For other industries. And so places like Meditech, places like various kind of government industries were suddenly able to hire the hotshots.

They were able to hire some really valuable people, and the impact that's having in those organizations, people with a fire in their belly to do good actually is seeing a huge amount of interesting stuff coming from those sectors that I'm really excited about. Wow. So I'm actually really excited about B2B at the moment.

I think it's turning a corner. Of course, we are

Jon Busby: always excited about B2B together, right? So it's not, it's, I wouldn't think it about it any other way. But Cathrin from your side how would you describe the outlook having just attended today's Wonderful


Cathrin Pfeiffer: Yeah. I would agree, Sunny.

Good. As I look outside Sunny yeah, for two reasons. One is that I think. As you said any downturn, any recession has only ever has taken 11 months in the past.

That would mean that we're about to go out of the recession and as a B2B marketer, you need to think ahead, so if we're about to go out of the recession, actually I have to think about what are we communicating if we're going out of the recession and there's going be an upbeat market. So this is why, for me, it is exciting at the moment. And then the second part of it is that in combination with how fast the technology is evolving, I think it creates massive opportunity for us and is so exciting.

Jon Busby: couldn't agree more. And I think that stat that was in the all where the marketing report of recessions are what an average 11 months.

Jen Shaw-Sweet: Yeah. Is that right? But a B2B cycles 18. Yeah. So you are always communicating for coming into growth.

Jon Busby: Yeah. So we need. I think I know there's a great statistic that we actually had, we've just published on the podcast actually from another B2B Institute from another tech brand that share women a nameless, but go back and look at our history is every dollar that you save now, I.

Will cost you a dollar 85. Yeah. To buy back later in brand. Yet there's no better time to invest than today

Jen Shaw-Sweet: in marketing.

Yeah. 'cause the media's cheap. The, I don't wanna we're probably not meant to say that, but I'll say it. Uniquely at LinkedIn, I'm allowed to say what I want. 'cause it's a think tank.

The media's cheap Your competitors acquired. There's a really lovely opportunity to disrupt your category right now. And I think that's always really wonderful. Like I was saying during the presentation, this is, I think, really exciting times for those brands who've maybe got a war chest or have an, a level of investment that needs, means that they're able to spend but also spending for the future.

And I also think that, All of these studies that we've got across the business, across the category now all lead to new equations, new evaluations of what the outcomes from a media investment would look like and. Being able to start to calculate that doesn't necessarily give us certainty, but we're able to discuss the level of uncertainty with the finance team.

Or with whoever we need help with to get that major investment and get the trajectory going for our businesses. So yeah, I think we can start to use the data really well rather than before where we were kind of servants to the data or, being bashed around the head. For, spending money.

Ooh, you're spending money when we've got no money, actually it's investing money for this future.

Jon Busby: I thought, I actually found it really fascinating today. We had across our table, most of the table saying we've had our budgets cut like some were cut by up to 50%, which is crazy. And there was one particular brand who not only had their budget increased last year, but increased, and they.

Let's say refocused. I'm trying to put a positive spin on that away from sales into marketing, and they're seeing it pay off. So I think, this is a strategy we know works, but so many people are afraid of change. And especially at the board level and the data's there. So this brings me onto my next point.

So we talk about this 95, 5% split. Obviously when the. When markets fall, that goes down to 1% is, which is what you talked about today, Jen. We also heard that 70% of businesses still focus on sales. That's where their comfort zone is. Yet we're seeing this big shift towards this self-educated buyer that from our perspective as a marketing agency it's our day to rule the roost.

How are we feeling about that?

Jen Shaw-Sweet: I think everything that we are doing, Is to set up sales for success and marketing that forgets that its job is to sell. It's failing its business and it erodes how seriously we're taken as marketers. So I would always measure the success of a marketing campaign on commercial outcomes.

I don't really care if someone loves my brand. I want them to buy my brand. And that's pretty brutal sometimes because it's lovely to be loved. Oh, we all need a hug every now and then, but actually the commercial impact we're able to make is the thing that should define us. And so what I quite like to do is to connect my measures to sales.

In brand in particular, what you can see is that in the short term, people often say you can't measure the impact of brand in the short term. I don't agree. I think you can, but I think you need to look in collaboration with other teams. So in the short term, I would be looking for increased propensity to buy warming up.

The sales, warming up for sales so that people who are exposed to brand are more likely to buy than people who weren't exposed to brand. But the other thing I look at is softer. And I would look at how a sales feeling. Do they find that purchases are easier? Do they come through faster with less friction?

And that's a softer measure, but it's a really important measure because if you are asking sales, do they feel that? Then you're actually working out with sales that you are making impact. You're reassuring them that money was well spent in making their job easier, better, more effective. But it also then ties together why we have this investment.

And, I'm not here to steal the glory of sales either. It has to be a, there has to be a handoff between the two. It has to be a collaboration between the two. Sales should be our greatest advocates as marketers.

Jon Busby: Cathrin, how about from your side?

Cathrin Pfeiffer: From a company point of view, I think the attribution is really important, and it's also the biggest challenge because there may be a time lag, there may be not enough data to support it, but at the same time, if you can show that, that's driven bottom line results, then nobody will say no to you. Then there's no reason to say no, we're not doing this. Unless there's, other issues that marketing can't influence. But this is also the biggest challenge I'm seeing. How can I attribute what I'm doing in brand to bottom line results?

'cause we've gotten to a point where, yes, I can show the results of what I'm doing in the dem gen lead generation. We are set, we are now, most companies are now set up to show the success there, but then direct attribution of a dollar spent in brand to the bottom line to a lead to a sale. Is still very hard to do, continues to be very hard, and I think that is also, that's where I'm looking at technology solutions, et cetera, to LinkedIn, to provide solutions.

And in fact, we are collaborating to come up with possibilities to do that, right? To track the dollar that I've spent drives X amount of revenue.

Jon Busby: Katie, any like coming in from our LinkedIn account manager point of view, I'm gonna look at you. Any like, how can we make that work? How can we start to build better attribution for that brand spend?

Katie Groon: I know, it's interesting in terms of the sales and marketing alignment. It is such a big focus at LinkedIn and I'm sure NetSuite have and Oracle team have done this for you. There is data that we can pull that shows how well your sales teams are. Speaking to the same people that you're trying to target.

And are those teams speaking to the same people or are they not? And where are the gaps and where's the overlap? And it's really not just for LinkedIn to say marketing's right and sales wrong, but it's to say, Hey guys, you need to speak to each other. You need to figure this out. Are you on the same path?

And if not, Figure it out so that you can be on the same team and and be more successful. Doing some of the really leaning into the really unique data and insights that we're able to pull has been super successful and helping with that

Jon Busby: area too.

And that's bridging the gap between sales and marketing.

Katie Groon: Oh, absolutely. A hundred percent.

Jon Busby: And some of the stuff we talked about today was, It was really the simple stuff, right? Aligning on goals, doing the goal setting exercise together. But I, there was another really interesting point from our table, which is they actually had marketing, were holding sales to account and could chase them every week on, have you followed out that lead?

Where, what's the status of it? And they were the ones chasing not this kind of usual. We throw them across the fence and we hit our M Q L targets. See you later. Like I thought that was a fascinating way of doing it. And of course, using something like LinkedIn can help achieve that. So yeah, really in really interesting,

Jen Shaw-Sweet: That's a really important point because what we also wanna be looking at is the quality of outcome, not just the quantity of outcomes.

And often when from advertising in particular, you have a handoff to sales. It's a numbers game. You've got this many leads this year this or this week or this month. Yeah. And a richer data source is outcomes. What's the size of sales? What were the quality of leads? And it's where we start looking rather than an efficiency that at effectiveness and how we are able to calculate that.

But it also then starts to give you a clue as to where the brand is going, where the product's going, and what you what you can read from that about the future value of the business. I also think. As we look at customer journeys, and so we start to be more sophisticated in the way that we're able to gather information from different stages of a customer journey.

No customer journey's linear. We're human, we're insane. But being able to understand when you had contact with a customer across a multi-channel. Attribution is a really smart way of being able to show the impact of marketing over that long term, especially with brand. Like we look at it with the LinkedIn audience network as well as LinkedIn.

That means we can bring in more channels. But we also start to look at it with things like the Hamilton study where we're bringing in more data to understand how many times someone's been exposed to a marketing message and that accumulation. Is really key and recognizing how marketing can create an accumulated experience of the brand.

And how many sort of engagements might be able to provoke a tipping point? Is important, but it has to be seen in the context of the buying cycle.

Jon Busby: Couldn't agree more. So I'm gonna switch gears a little bit and talk about creativity. We a again, we, I talked about weather before.

We just had a hottest June on record. I love this message of reuse your creative. 'cause I think it, it really, it's gonna sound a bit silly, but it aligns with sustainability. Yeah. You wouldn't think of recycling a campaign as a way of aligning with something like, Sustainability, but we are actually doing carbon studies now on the cost of media.

Yeah. And how much, how, and the impact that has on the environment, what do you think the risk is for reusing creativity? And what approaches would you have to make sure you stand out?

Jen Shaw-Sweet: So we are often reticent about reusing creativity. Because there has been a sort of industry belief in where out.

And there's always a fear of wear out. Oh, we've bored our customers. We very rarely see ad wear out in B2B partly due to the nature of our customer audiences, very few brands reach their accumulated customer audience ever let alone enough to make them bored of a, an execution or piece of creative.

It's very different with ABM because you are already restricting the pool of people that you're talking to. And the nature of ABM is that you're talking to people very much further down in the funnel. It's more of a distribution channel. And so with ABM, what you're looking at is exposing people to lots of reasons to justify a purchase that they've already decided they're gonna make. And then refreshing those reasons can be a really useful way of making sure that you stay on the list, that you're gonna convert that person into a sale in the same way that you might refresh a, a shelf wobbler in store. Like it's not particularly sophisticated and that's why we would use relatively low cost to refresh media, but it's the reasons.

That you are refreshing. You're not necessarily refreshing the creative because the challenge is to still be attributed to the brand. There's no point convincing someone to buy, I don't know, X SaaS product with loads of reasons to buy it if they don't associate it with the brand they're buying from.

You've just advertised your category, not your brand. And the way that you establish recognizability of your brand is consistency of your brand. And in brand communication is the perfect place to do that, and that's where ads have to be allowed to wear in to the point where people become, So used to or so accepting of what that brand is saying that they in confidence know what that brand stands for.

The promise that it's making or the that they trust you, I guess is the most important thing in business in particular. And so wearing in an ad, just as Hovis have been running the same ad since 1977. We know they make bread. We know that they make bread and some little boy pushes that bread on a bicycle up a hill, right?

We can all. Recite the ad, the power of that fluency in our brand is really key. And I think that we too easily flush that value that we've created for our business down the toilet with over refreshing,

Jon Busby: I think, and one of the stats we saw today was this 60%, 60% of advertising was, correct me if I'm wrong on this one, Jen, was it 60%?

Could, was Misattributed in B2B. So you are putting that brand out there. You're thinking of a wonderful new campaign, and then you are basically giving your competitors free advertising. That's crazy. Cathrin, how does that make you feel? What are you gonna do with that knowledge now?

Cathrin Pfeiffer: I don't know yet. Is the real answer. Think we all need time to process that. Yeah. And plus, because I'm in dem gen obviously I have to highlight that there's a difference between recycling something in branding versus recycling something dem gen is absolutely key. And that was just a, almost like a side note.

Or a comment, a small comment you made, but really important in, in practice that for dem gen the rules are different.

So recycling may work for your brand, but in dem gen to generate leads, it may not work because you have to, you have to always make people come back and keep up that interest.

For me, it's so for me because I have this dem gen view it continues to be, we have to be up to date. Yeah. And we have to be, we have to be current. We have to offer new things all the time.

Jon Busby: Yeah. It's, and balancing those two is, is a, yeah. Is a challenge. Yeah. It's. I think we, we talk much more about kind of full funnel type.

I'm starting to hear the word full funnel come out a lot at the moment with how we don't just look at brand and demand gen. We try and make sure there's a graduation between the two. Let's take it on just in the last few minutes onto metrics in Cathrin, starting with you.

Like what ways do you find when educating your board or your CFO on how How marketing's performing. Like how do you do, how do you make that translation between marketing metrics and demand gen metrics into what the board needs to see?

Cathrin Pfeiffer: So I think very similarly to what I said earlier, so for one, we are very large organization, so I don't get to talk to the board, we need to be very realistic.

Yeah. But I think it's always, so any management will always be interested in the bottom line. Yep. Everything else that's marketing KPIs, right? If number of impressions, clicks, click through rate, it's very difficult to understand because there's a lot of technology behind, and if I tell you we had 2 million impressions on an ad, Is that good?

Is that bad? People will not know and actually a marketeer will not know until, the spend behind it, the intention behind it, et cetera. So what the, I think the hard metric and the hard KPI will always be the bottom line.

Jon Busby: and it comes back to what we were talking about earlier that move away from MQ ls to quality and customer lifetime value.

And are people, especially now we're in a cloud world, are they churning becomes much more important now than how many leads I generated. I'm just gonna, just to bring us to a close in the last few minutes, there's so much stuff we haven't covered from today's session. Jen coming back to you.

We talked about ways of measuring creative and you had this wonderful able model of, what is it? Attention branding and linkage. Am I got that right? Yeah. Yeah. We, whether we up a new word of brand linkage. Brandage. Yeah. Breakage. Breakage. That's it. At one point. Model, but

Jen Shaw-Sweet: attention brand and linkage.

Jon Busby: How might you use that scorecard? How would you suggest people use that scorecard? Because the amount of people that don't score their creative, I always find is staggering. So how, what success have you had using that as a mechanism?

Jen Shaw-Sweet: So I would always score in context, either in context of your own campaigns, so you'd score across a variety of executions but also helpfully in context of the category.

So I'd also be scoring my competition and I would be looking at. Like attention is very much about like how long people are spending with the ad, what the quality of attention you're getting as far as outcomes are concerned. So engagement, but real engagement of real people. And how long they're looking at the ad.

With branding it's attribution is key. Brand fluency, people recognizing the brand. Really looking into what elements you have to put in every single execution in order to make sure that it's attributed to the brand. And I think with linkage, I would definitely be looking at how well you are associated with key messages in the category.

Ideally, key need states in the category. We talk a lot about category entry points, but if you are able to say, Our share of market on this category. Entry point is X or our share of mind on this category. Entry point is Y. That starts to help you understand how what, how much you're winning, but it's always against the competition and we run the risk of thinking The competition is all of the companies that look like us.

But that's not what's in the mind of the consumer. What's in the mind of the consumer is all the companies they could name in the context of that need state. So they're gonna name really big companies that you are competing with. You might not feel like you're competing with them 'cause they don't look like you, that you are competing with them.

People that people that come, they assume that those companies can do that. So really looking at maybe the ABLE framework or even in creative understanding. The size of emotion that you're generating, which is gonna give you an idea of the length of time people are gonna remember your ad, gives you a really good indication of how frequent you need.

They need to see it to keep on running it. That's gonna give you a much better idea of what media investment is gonna be needed, what share of market you're getting from those measures.

Jon Busby: I think that's fantastic. So I'm gonna bring us to a close now. I'm gonna, I've got this one, one question that I'm gonna give to each of you, and we're gonna see how this turns out.

So if you were to bump into your C F O in a corridor Cathrin, you don't you mentioned you don't get a chance to bump into them. What would be your elevator pitch to get them to invest in marketing?

Cathrin Pfeiffer: In an ideal world, I could show this impact I have from top of funnel to bottom of funnel.

Metrics for it, numbers. For your numbers. If I can show this, then that's your elevator pitch and that is very short. And very succinct and very convincing at the moment. I think most companies still struggle to show that, to show the full funnel impact of marketing. But I think that's, that is, that would be it.

Jon Busby: Kate. Katie, if you were to bump into your CFO, what, how would you pitch it?

Katie Groon: Yeah. I think it's very different from my side, right? Because I'm not. In marketing for LinkedIn and with totally different animal, different side of the business. But I was just gonna say, I think you nailed it.

I think you have to bring everything back to an r o i, you have to show how everything's proving it. And the full funnel is so important. Like you mentioned earlier, the person who increased their marketing budget, it increased because they were doing brand, they didn't turn off. And it was helping with the lower funnel piece of it.

So it, it all works together. It might change a little bit of what percentage you're using in each part of the funnel, but the doing every single part is gonna be really important to driving results.

Jon Busby: And Jen, finally, over to you. What advice would you give to someone if to pitch to their CFO?

Jen Shaw-Sweet: I, my advice generally would be, and it's something that we actually do as the B2B Institute for certain clients, is to really look at the size of market that's out there. I would go for the tam. Because, However many marketing metrics I think you make. Cathrin makes a really good point.

However, many market marketing metrics I throw at my CFO or a CFO for one of our customers that their eyes glaze over and they're just like, oh, it's marketing, talking about marketing again. But when you actually talk about the size of opportunity that's out there, and you mix it together with maybe the trajectory of the category or the size of growth of the category and how.

Possible it is to be able to increase your share of market, which is really the ambition that we all have in marketing. Increase your share of market. You're increasing your resilience in the marketplace. You're increasing, ideally your profitability, your ability to control pricing, for example. So I would be looking at the tam.

I would be looking at really being able to demonstrate how we could make more money. From being able to have more perceived value in the marketplace and more opportunity in the marketplace. So that's very top of funnel. That's where we're looking at really understanding the sort of five year trajectory we're trying to create for our brands.

Jon Busby: I love that. Thank you so much Jen, Katie, and Cathrin for joining me on the Tech Marketing podcast today. It's been, we've only just scratched the surface, I think, on a lot of today's content I think final call to action to our listeners, obviously, check out the B2B LinkedIn Institute.

Obviously check out LinkedIn but, and also join us at the next event, which we hope to do together. So thank you very much.

Harry Radcliffe: A massive thank you to Cathrin, Jen and Katie for joining us on this episode. Subscribe to the Tech Marketing podcast or your favorite. Subscribe to the Tech Marketing podcast on your favorite podcast platform to make sure you don't miss any more great episodes like this.


Add Extra content or sources citations here