An article was published in January and it’s been living in our heads rent-free ever since. Other agencies have discussed it—and a video was even made about it—but none of that has stopped that headline from just sitting there, staring us in the face.

“Majority of B2B advertising is ‘ineffective’”

Ineffective? The bulk of the work we spend our professional lives researching, concepting, creating and putting into market isn’t working? Well according to the LinkedIn B2B Institute…yeah. It’s a worthwhile read and without summarizing it too bluntly, the article finds that too much B2B creative seeks only to provide (or only succeeds in providing) information about a product or brand to aid in rational purchase decisions by leads or customers at some stage or another of the sale funnel.

What too much B2B creative doesn’t do, according to the article is acknowledge that leads, customers, audiences, prospects—all of them—are people, people with emotions, personalities, needs, hopes and fears. The creative ignores the human attributes that draw people in and make them care about it, and by association, a brand. The creative isn’t creative at all; it’s just content.

Content is info. Content fills pages. Content has product benefits. Content checks all the boxes that the rational consumer needs checked. But the fact is that even in a B2B context, there is no such thing as a rational consumer. Every human being buys with some degree of emotion, whether purchasing a new shampoo from the corner store or a SaaS platform at an enterprise level. We want to believe that what we are doing is best and we want to believe in what we buy. We want to act with trust.

So how do we foster trust in B2B creative? By looking at it as B2P creative. That’s Business-to-Person, if we’re coining phrases.

We have to recognize that however we segment our audience into personas, verticals or funnel status, we’re classifying it into groups of people with whom we need to connect. And to connect with them we need to understand them. We need to empathize. Do they need a little levity in their day? Let’s bring some (gasp) humor into a B2B campaign. Do they need a deeper understanding of our product but are drowning in emails, PDFs, and ebooks already? Let’s think about some narrative video to tell the story. Instead of weighing down the creative with jargon, why not lighten it up with art? We engage with what we find relevant, and so we must realize that there is no right medium or style for the product—only for the person we’re trying to reach.

When people start seeing their human selves in B2B creative, they’ll begin to trust that the companies creating it understand their needs. They’ll believe that their best interests are being considered. They’ll feel valued as people, not customers. So let’s start speaking to them that way.

“So how do we foster trust in B2B creative? By looking at it as B2P creative. That’s Business-to-Person, if we’re coining phrases.”