B2B Advertising: Where Bad Stock Goes to Die

By Bizclik Editor


Written by: Bernie Pitzel, Creative in Residence, Jacobs Agency

[Guy with a hard hat pointing at something]

Flip the page.

[Woman at a computer screen pointing at something]

Flip the page.

[Tractor at sunset]

Flip the page.

[Suits in a boardroom pointing at a guy pointing at a flow chart]

Flip the page.

Welcome to most business-to-business advertising: where bad stock shots go to die and where the oft-repeated executional mantra seems to be “show our stuff and show people like us using our stuff.” 

Why do a vast majority of B2B advertisers seem to share the apparent belief that their targets have no lives beyond their cubicles or warehouses or boardrooms? 

Most of the advertising is so “me too” that I’m sure the cumulative effect is no commutative effect. And there’s not just a commonality in the look and feel but are their targets so one dimensional that they only read trade magazines? Wouldn’t a couple of well-timed inserts in Sports Illustrated, Maxim or Glamour work better than monthly inserts in Tractor Weekly or Today’s Nurse?

Sure, the big pubs are way more expensive than most trades, but there are so many targeted publications that are a lot less and are probably more relevant to the target than their own trade mags.

No one is so one-dimensional that they only read trades and bypass other forms of communication. How about a little outdoor outside that industrial plant? Or a banner ad on CBS Sportsline. Pinterest, anyone? And how about something emotional, evocative or exciting as opposed to “We have the best palettes going”?

Over the years at my various stomping grounds, we won a ton of new B2B clients because they were attracted to our consumer advertising and wanted to bring some of that humanity into their own advertising efforts. Weird how that works, huh? A consumer in B2B advertising. It’s like B2B readers are actually human. Radical stuff.                                 

This is not rocket science. Nothing is, except, well, rocket science.

Your targets are not one-dimensional cubical critters.  They watch sports, change diapers, cook, go to movies, they have hobbies. They age and they have emotions. 

Maybe it’s time to start showing some of your own in your advertising, but only if you want to connect. Otherwise, flip the page.


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