Importance of Going Viral in a B2B Scenario

By Jenny Ann

B2B Viral MarketingLast year two major heavy vehicle manufactures took a unique approach towards their advertising. They devised two campaigns which went viral. Let’s start by having a quick look at each of them:

Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial – Farmer

Tries to position the farmer as a vital and deeply respectable clog in the world machine while showcasing Ram trucks as trusted partner to the farmer!

Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme

Tries to showcase the new precision steering feature on new big trucks range from Volvo

Both of these adverts as we mentioned earlier went viral and spawned a number of parodies too. The Volvo ad even won a Cannes lion this year. Two very successful ads then you would say? Well that depends! These were two fairly costly campaigns (especially the Volvo one) and the success of any campaign depends on its ability to meet goals. So if the goals Volvo and Ram had set for the campaign were increasing brand awareness and driving random traffic, then yes they were pretty successful.

However we felt here could have been more to it. Volvo managed to get a lot of attention from varied people but what could they do with it? As an example could they have build a landing page showcasing how businesses have actually benefitted from the precision steering feature and a call to action for requesting more information?

B2B Viral MarketingAs per the Online Video Marketing Survey and Business Video Trends Report which had 52% respondents as B2B marketers, 93% of the total respondents accepted using video marketing and 82% admitted it had a positive impact on their business.

This highlights one thing – b2b marketers are spending money on video marketing. Whether they should be spending money trying to create viral videos is a different question all together.

One key distinction between b2b and b2c marketing is that while b2c marketing is emotion driven and meant to help customers connect with the brand on a personal level, b2b marketing is more complicated. A b2b marketer has to consider how their business goals are in sync with those of their target businesses and key decision markers at these businesses.

This brings us to the question of b2b brands trying their best to go viral. Before we dwell into that let’s do a quick recap of how you would generally gauge the effectiveness of a b2b campaign.

  • Did it reach the right audience?
  • Did it get any leads into the pipeline?

The first question raised about casts some serious doubts about the rationality of trying to go viral in a b2b scenario. Random volume doesn’t work in a b2b scenario. B2B marketing needs to be focused and targeted towards driving intentional behavior.

B2B Viral MarketingMarketers need to think the next part after going viral. How will they reach their target audience amongst the maze of random views and then direct these vital prospects to more enriching information that ultimately drives inquires and sales. You might love the attention that going viral generally brings. But in complex b2b sales the end goal isn’t going viral. This is something you should never forget as a marketer. Since b2b marketers cannot simply live on view counts alone a more refined way of looking at things could include:

  • Identify your core target audience
  • Judge your video views in context to the size of your target audience. Don’t judge your numbers against entire populations
  • How have your competitors videos performed
  • More than the views how are the viewers engaging with you video? Are they sharing it? Or maybe commenting on it

Understand the value of a niche audience

If you like most b2b business have a niche audience then going viral might not be the best approach. Your content should be designed to enable and drive their goals and needs. Consider this approach taken by Cisco

The video showcases their products in a business context. Even though the video is fun and interesting, the main message is quite clear. Cisco products and services help increase process efficiency.

Why going viral can be risky?

Revisit your aims as a b2b marketer. You’ll realize that 8 times out of 10 it probably doesn’t make much sense trying to go viral. Videos are just another form of content and as such one small (if important) pillar of your overall marketing strategy.

And then they’ll be times that you actually get lucky and a small highly directed campaign will all of a sudden reach a broader audience resulting in positive ripples across business bringing in more customers.

If you can ensure that your target audience is amongst the millions viewing your campaign and you have a series of next steps lined up to move these key prospects ahead then by all means try going viral. The investment might just be worth it. However if this isn’t the case then you might ending up with a well loved yet low on ROI campaign which according to us isn’t healthy marketing.

What do you feel? Is going viral as big of a goldmine in a b2b scenario as it is in b2c? Share your thoughts with us via comments below.

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