Stick or Twist?

Andrew Last

17 Jul 2020

Are we entering a new era of b2b marketing innovation and creativity, or will we be back-to-basics before we know it?

As everyone knows (well, everyone who’s Googled ‘crisis in Chinese’), the word ‘crisis’ in Chinese is made-up of two characters: 危 meaning ‘danger’ and 机 meaning ‘chance’ or ‘opportunity’.

And that’s exactly what the current landscape offers.

Our Life after Covid report showed how digital transformation has accelerated by 3 years in 3 weeks in some organisation. We found that business leaders are expecting to spend more on innovation and nurturing a more creative culture. And McKinsey highlights how 85% of tech execs are seeing growth opportunities ahead.

But how about when it comes to tech and b2b marketing? Will this follow a similar path?

Recently I’ve seen a number of vendors and agencies pivot their offerings. Whether it’s turning to virtual events, building interactive 3D models for retail spaces or coming-up with a more interesting way to present in virtual meetings, there’s clearly a growth mindset out there.

At Harvard we’ve had similar experiences and are responding to clients with more digital solutions than ever before. Not just in running events, but producing interactive content, experimenting with new online ad formats on channels such as LinkedIn and rolling-out social chatbots.

All at a pace that would never have previously seemed possible.

And it’s not just tactics and channels that are diversifying.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how our clients are willing to take a more provocative stance with their comms and creative. We have more licence when it comes to tone-of-voice, thought leadership points-of-view and creative platforms. One client is pushing us to bring even more humour into their creative.

The threat of disruption has brought out an opportunistic side and the shackles are coming off.

The question is whether tech brands are actually willing to take the plunge here.

Will this signal a new age of marketing innovation and creativity? One where marketers genuinely grasp this opportunity – for example by putting aside budget specifically for experimentation – or will they see the ‘danger’ in ‘crisis’ and fall back to old ways of thinking.

I’m fascinated to find out.