What product can you tie in with?

Paul Nolan

“Why the heck is that in here?” she asked.

She answered her own question the next time we went grocery shopping when she asked for a box of the same granola bars.

It was a brilliant cross-promotion that assumed that customers who order comforters online are also granola bar eaters. Actually, if I dug deeper into the development of this campaign, I bet I’d find that the crossover audience wasn’t assumed at all, but rather was carefully proven through analysis of customer analytics.

I watched this successful promotion play out while I was working on this issue’s cover story, which actually began as a broad piece on what aspects of consumer marketing could be used in the business-to-business world.

Creativity is considered essential for consumer goods companies to rise above the din of non-stop marketing and reach their target audience. It should be no different for B2B marketers, and yet by their own admission the same level of creativity doesn’t exist.

“It’s not like it’s less important, but there are less expectations,” Michele Culp, a marketing expert at Minneapolis-based BI, said when we spoke with her for this story.

Culp and others we spoke with agree that it’s time for B2B marketers to step up their game and match the level of creativity seen in the consumer world.

Because so many of those we spoke with focused on social marketing, we ended up writing mostly about that new tool, how the B2B world is currently using it, and what can be done better. You’ll see, however, that there are still advocates for using classic consumer marketing tactics — press releases and public relations, anyone? — in the B2B space.

If you’re a B2B marketer successfully incorporating B2C tactics in your marketing strategy, we’d love to hear about it. Send us a quick e-mail or join our conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Paul Nolan, Editor