Who are today's brightest marketers? Which brands—and agencies—stand out among the rest?
Look no further than MarketingProfs' 2014 Bright Bulb B2B Award winners, who were announced by MarketingProfs chief content officer and best-selling author Ann Handley and comedy writer and emcee Tim Washer at the B2B Marketing Forum in October.
Rather than just give you a short and sweet list of winners, we pulled together this summary of what they did and why we think each winner is awesome.
Marketer of the Year
Deon Newman, Vice-President of Marketing, System z, IBM
How exactly does one take a brand that has been around for 50 years and make it new and exciting again to celebrate such an anniversary? That was the task undertaken by Deon Newman at System Z, IBM. To sum it up in a hashtag: #nailedit.
The results this Mainframe50 campaign achieved under Deon's leadership are impressive on their own—over 2M impressions across properties, thousands of views on YouTube channels, over 2,000 press stories, 25% increase in unique users... The list goes on.
Deon's approach is what really made the campaign shine.
We love when a brand can tell a story, and this multichannel campaign's focus was just as much on customers' stories as it was on IBM's story. The campaign featured videos from customers telling their compelling and authentic stories of how the IBM's Mainframe helps them do what they do.
Deon also turned IBM's focus to the next generation with a Millennial Mainframe contest. This not only generated buzz but also showed the next generation (and the world) that this 50-year old brand could still hang with today's youth.
From the submission form: "It was invaluable to have Mr. Newman as a digital champion who put a personal face on the campaign. When the executive leading the campaign demonstrates an understanding of Internet storytelling tools and uses them to market an established technology, it helps to make the campaign accessible to new generations of customers, press, and business partners."
Brand of the YearSpiceworks
We have a crush on you. And your SpiceHeads. And your SpiceRex mascot.
You make us (almost) wish we worked in IT.
Let me explain: Those of us on the B2B Marketing Forum team like to say that ours isn't just another marketing event; it's an experience with heart and soul. So when we read Spiceworks' submission, we really felt like we'd found a like-minded brand, a group of people who understand that B2B businesses don't have to be boring (or safe or watered-down or predictable) to be successful.
One sentence from the submission that really resonated with us: "We're not a brand that represents a product, so much as a community with a soul."
The company proved that a "community with soul" can create real and measurable results.
Spiceworks grew to more than six million members this year, and in February, it raised $57 million in Series E funding. Goldman Sachs says, "Spiceworks has a unique platform for technology brands to directly access a rapidly growing, critical, and underserved market of IT professionals that commands over $525 billion of spend today."
But this award is about more than numbers—it's about everything that makes up an awesome brand.
This excerpt from the company's entry sums up its win nicely: "Spiceworks—from our employees to our content, right down to our zany conference swag (bacon suckers, anyone?)—is a brand that really gets its audience, and we use that understanding to help IT pros and technology brands connect in ways that work for them… We're honored that they rely on us every day." (Want to see more? Check out Spiceworks on YouTube.)
From our judges: "Amazing job building and growing—on a daily basis—a network of IT professionals. They are a very difficult audience to reach. Love the authenticity and quirkiness, but more importantly, it really seems to resonate with their audience given their impressive metrics."
Tripwire | "Zombify Your Marketing"
Tripwire delivers cybersecurity solutions to service providers, government agencies, and over 50% of the Fortune 500. That's no laughing matter... or is it?
It can be when your "community loves the undead" and you use that humor to stand out from the crowd at a major tradeshow like Tripwire did with its winning, zombie-infused creative at Infosecurity Europe.
Beginning with a pre-event Zombie Conference Survival Guide, the Tripwire team integrated its creative throughout its participation to lure booth visitors and engage with prospects.
"During the event, we had an artist draw zombie caricatures of our booth visitors," Tripwire stated. "This was prime time for us to engage in conversations with them because they were posing for the artists, and we were able to qualify our visitors and explain how Tripwire could solve their problems."
Not only did Tripwire exceed its lead goal for the event, many booth visitors and industry influencers used their new zombified (and Tripwire-branded) caricatures as their social media avatars soon after the event, extending their creative spark beyond the show floor.
Fun fact: This is Tripwire's second consecutive Bright Bulb B2B Award for Best Creative.
Best ProjectUserTesting | "Peek"
With all sorts of creative options available to marketers today, it's easy to overlook the simple things—those ideas that are so obvious that they couldn't possibly be as good at driving traffic, generating leads, and converting customers as all those projects that take a ton of time, energy, and budget.
Overlooking the simple things happens to the best of us. But as UserTesting explained in its submission, sometimes the simplest ideas that work the best: "Our growth, while steadily increasing, wasn't at the rate we wanted it to be. We knew that the best way to teach people about the power of user feedback was to have them experience it firsthand, but we found that giving out free promo codes was returning a dismal amount of interest.
"We knew we needed to make it super-simple for people to experience UserTesting, so in November 2013, we decided to launch a stand-alone microsite and make it a fun and easy way to experience our service while giving us enough information to nurture our new leads into a true relationship. The results have blown us away."
Site traffic increased by 81%. Leads increased by 900%. Now that's a winning project!
From our judges: "Love the idea of making your product itself the marketing! If a free taste is the best way to hook users, find a way to make this happen."
Best Small In-House Campaign
Block by Block | "Something Sounds Fishy"
Block by Block provides cleaning, safety, hospitality, and outreach services to downtown business improvement districts. To make inroads with prospects who usually take care of these services in-house, Block by Block created a direct marketing campaign (involving direct mail, email, custom landing pages, and more) that dispelled five common myths of outsourcing.
Success rate with targeted prospects by the time of their entry? It's 43%. That's not bad for an investment of a little more than $4,000.
From our judges: "At a time when people think direct mail is dead, this campaign was very successful. The results were through the roof from any thing I have ever seen and I was very impressed with cost of this campaign… Very well done."
Best Large In-House Campaign
Vocus (now OutMarket) | "The Modern Marketing Manifesto: Spring '14 Release of Vocus Marketing Suite"
Note: Since launching this campaign and submitting an entry, Vocus has become Outmarket.
Jumping into a new space with your products is a difficult task, especially when that new space is marketing automation. The marketing team at Vocus created an entire manifesto to make sure that when Vocus jumped in, it made a splash.
Engaging Vocus employees and fellow marketers, the team generated a ton of buzz to get its new product and site redesign noticed. A contest around the #EvolveMKTG hashtag gained 500 participants who shared their personal marketing manifestos. The buzz and socially shared content garnered 10,000+ visitors to the contest's landing page.
The results were successfully putting Vocus in the category of marketing automation company, a 200% increase in leads generated, 205% increase in conversation around the brand, and over 30,000 clicks on distributed content.
From our judges: "Bold, engaging integrated campaign with multiple elements to get people involved. They needed to cut through the noise in a crowded market and this campaign appeared to deliver on their objectives."
Best Small Agency Campaign
Big Scary Cranium | "Alliance Bus Group"
Shortly after its founding, Big Scary Cranium—an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency—began working with new client Alliance Bus Group to help navigate prospects through the buying cycle via a new bus "fit finder" process. After creating robust new buyer personas, the team used hyper-relevant content and targeted demo videos to incrementally educate those buyer types, all deployed through automated programs.
The result: In the first half of the 2014 Alliance Bus Group has saw a 300% ROI and grew its database by 40%. More than half of closed business deals now come through new leads gained since implementing this campaign, its first using marketing automation.
Fun fact: Big Scary Cranium is the first Bright Bub winner to be nominated by someone other than itself. In this case, the agency and its campaign for Alliance Bus Group were nominated by Silverpop.
Best Large Agency Campaign
Magnani Continuum Marketing | "Run the Warehouse—Marriott International"
You may think all of a hotel's revenue comes from room bookings, but in reality, group sales (events like our B2B Marketing Forum) play a big part in a hotel's bottom line. And with so many options out there, getting the attention of the event planners who call the shots can be difficult.
That's why we really like the "Run the Warehouse" campaign Magnani Continuum Marketing created for Marriott's group sales business. It captured attention and drove new bookings in a creative, fun way. Marriott saw a 17% jump in revenue as a result of the campaign and now has the largest market share of its competitors.
From the submission: "Research showed that while independent planners liked the Marriott brand, they felt somewhat disconnected from the organization. So we tackled both with a six-month integrated campaign that combined hotel bookings, video games, and a prize-filled warehouse in Las Vegas. Our 'Run The Warehouse' campaign encouraged planners to 'get in the game' and book blocks of hotel rooms. Grand-prize winners scored a trip to Vegas and a 60-second dash-and-grab through a warehouse stuffed with electronics, jewelry, and other fabulous prizes."
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Think you've got what it takes to be recognized as a beacon of marketing magic? Then don't miss your chance to show off your brilliance when we announce our 2015 Bright Bulb B2B Awards call for entries in the spring.
Until then, go forth and do awesome marketing—show everyone how bright you can shine.