B2B/Tech clients have so much in common it makes sense not to chuck good creative ideas.

July 9, 2012

Apples to apples…

Though it can sometimes be frustrating, one of the interesting things about working on technology companies (especially those that advertise to other companies) is the relative interchangeability of creative solutions. Since so many tech clients offer similar services and products it stands to reason they share marketing strategies as well. An offshoot to all this is that our ideas for them can have another audition, even if not chosen by the intended client. When I tell a creative person (jilted because his or her concept wasn’t chosen) not to worry we’ll use the idea sooner or later I’m not bullshitting. We likely will.

So many of these million and billion dollar companies handle “Big Data,” providing analytics, storage and protection software. It’s stuff you can’t see. It’s hard to explain. That’s why so many agencies specializing in B2B treat these clients to the same old clichés and incomprehensible jargon. Everything is a “solution.”

Um, I’ll get my “solution” somewhere else…

It’s like robots talking to robots. Thankfully, humanly relevant ideas do exist for such entities and it’s my pleasure to go after them. With necessary tweaking, good ideas can translate from client to client.

When I worked on consumer products at Leo Burnett, the possibility of repurposing unused creative ideas was not unknown. Certain categories necessarily had shared strategies. Take breakfast cereal, a segment I worked on for several years. So many brands went after consumers with the same bait. There was “nutritious but delicious” and it’s fraternal twin, “delicious but nutritious.” What’s the difference? Not much. It was a question of nuance. One campaign might feature dieters astounded by a good-for-you cereal’s great taste. The other strategy had folks devouring a cereal unaware of its nutritional value, which the voice over then delightfully whispered to us. While not a creative treasure trove, we were at least able to take what good ideas we had and try them over and over again.

The great difference with B2B/tech clients is that they haven’t been treated to good ideas before. The creative mine is largely untapped. With an open mind and practiced skill, truly great work is easily discovered. That’s been my experience anyway, first at LBWorks (a B2B/technology agency I helped create at Leo Burnett) and now at gyro, San Francisco.

For every new brief at gyro we develop at least five excellent campaigns. That means four concepts remain for the next lucky customer, plus the new ones we invariably develop. It’s another gold rush in San Francisco! If one prefers a more timely reference, think of it as recycling. We are a “green” agency. I like that.


4 Responses to “B2B/Tech clients have so much in common it makes sense not to chuck good creative ideas.”

  1. Kate said


    Not sure I agree that the creative mine for tech/B2B is ‘untapped’ – at least not in the UK. There are some very creative tech/B2B agencies – granted there are also some turkeys that are forever concepting missing jigsaw pieces, chess sets and locks and keys but hey…

    I also wanted to question your ‘four concepts remain for the next lucky customer’ strategy. Really? Your clients’ briefs all have the same propositions? Or do you shoehorn the propositions in to fit the ideas the previous client didn’t buy?

    • Steffan1 said

      Kate- I like to think my agency is an exception to the rule but of course there are others who get making “humanly relevant” ideas for tech & B2B. I also like to think our briefs have sufficient separation from one another but they are alarmingly similar when they come in the door as assignments. Thank you for reading and writing to the Gods of Advertising, SP

      • Kate said

        Fair enough. Yes, to be fair that did remind me of multiple client briefs saying, ‘it makes life simpler’… glad I found the blog. Kate

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