• Transform magazine
  • June 26, 2022


Five minutes with Andrew Godley

Andrew Godley Head Shot

Andrew Godley, head of client services for B2B marketing agency Punch!, discusses why industry perceptions around B2B brand marketing need changing.

What do you feel are the current perceptions of B2B brand marketing amongst creative agencies? 

It probably comes down to a definition of B2B. I think it's been quite interesting in the last couple of weeks that there have been a couple of ads, one for Screwfix and another one for Barclaycard Business, and they're both really good ads, but ultimately they're B2B ads aimed at smaller businesses - so it feels slightly different. I think if you ask the kind of creative ad community what they thought of those ads, they would say they were brilliant ads without really thinking they are B2B ads.

At the smaller end of things it’s seen that you can have more emotion in that space, so the work is often better. I think the perception for most people of B2B is at the big end where you're talking about these huge companies – often global in reach – where the work they want is, what they go for is consistency. They're big fans of brand guidelines, they're big fans of stock shots and all of that stuff. I think when creative agencies look at that stuff, they think it is not very interesting work. I would concur; I don't think that does make interesting work.

Do you ever feel B2B firms expect less out of partnerships with creative agencies due to the perception that B2C is where all the ‘hero creative’ happens? 

I think probably for me, B2C clients are wired slightly differently from B2B clients. I worked for years with B2C, and all my clients would have a dashboard that would have things like brand metrics, awareness and consideration, how are perceptions changing, how are my digital ads doing, how is the website performing? For a marketing director, it's the data they need – that's the interesting bit. Of course, sales have to work, but it's less of a thing. I think in B2B, there is an obsession with the funnel. In B2C loads of studies have been done around the funnel just to say you can't think of the world in this space where people come in and work through the funnel before they buy your product – they can come in at any level! Within B2B it's still 'There's a funnel. If we want to sell things, we need to be operating at the bottom of the funnel.’ That's where a huge amount of the focus is, so I think that there’s often seen as less of a need for being creative, it's more about tactics to drive short-term sales. I think the perception is maybe not even thinking about where the magic does happen, because they might not think they need the magic. They need the sales, but often there's a disconnect, I think, between brand and sales. I think that's what happens.

Why is this something worth changing? 

Because fundamentally I believe that creative can make a massive change. I think there are lots of things which we can tinker with. You can have incremental gains, but still creative can drive huge business change. I think that that is something which needs to be addressed. We've had some deliberations where we've been talking to clients about whether we should talk about brand or not. But the truth is you need to talk about brand because every client I've worked with in the last 18 months in B2B has had a brand challenge, whether that's kind of low awareness in the sector, or they have awareness that is based on something from 20 years ago, which means they seem very old fashioned. So, I think it needs addressing because it can have a huge impact. And fundamentally, I think some of these companies are really interesting. They deserve good work that represents who they are in a modern, progressive way.

How could the industry go about changing this? 

I would love it if a couple of clients stepped forward and just did something different. We have that classic problem where lots of clients come and we'll have a creative presentation where we present slightly disruptive creative work and then it quite quickly goes back to 'Oh, this is great, I'll introduce you to the brand guardians that work out in San Francisco', or something. You have the chat and the work is instantly killed, so I think I think we need to address that. In B2C there's an IPA study called ‘The long and short of it’, where they look at how you should balance brand spend versus activation spend. And I think the ratio should be 60:40 brand to activation to drive long-term business success. I think actually a study like that within B2B would be really interesting.

Have there been any B2B projects you’ve worked on at Punch! which have shattered the myth that only B2C projects can produce glamorous creative? 

We can't name the company, but last week we went back with some work around lorries and truck drivers. It’s not terribly glamorous, but one of the ideas was the idea of creating a perfume. It wasn't a perfume like Chanel, or anything like that. We got a Spanish art director that was saying, 'When I think about a lorry driver, it's driving through Spain, smelling lemons and olives,' and then we quite quickly pivoted. We thought ‘No, it's not that. It's about smelling the diesel as you fill up, it's the wet tarmac.’ It's all of these other things which are not terribly nice smells, but quite pungent and evocative. So, one of the ideas we went back with was all about creating this perfume that we'd send to some of these people to evoke those memories of the road, which went down really well. It felt an interesting way of using something as a more emotional hook to then promote a very rational message.