Disclaimer: I'm a passionately Canadian Citizen who sometimes admits to being a recovering Brit—30 years since I last used the UK passport and still taking it one day at a time.

The Brit pop music invasion of North America in the Sixties coincided with a less well-known invasion. Fans of today’s Mad Men, or anyone who went within a mile of Madison Avenue forty or fifty years ago, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes, the creative 'wide-boys' from the land of long hair, bad teeth and cool accents poured into advertising agencies on the East and West Coasts of the US and into Canada’s major cities—Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Most of those early arrivals are now retired, expired or drawing on various Benevolent Societies. No names, no blame—though excess quantities of liquid, powdered or inhaled substance may have added to the damage.

What’s this got to do with B2B you ask? Most of those opinionated, but often lovable blowhards were pure B2C.

But two recent visits to the UK B2B marketing scene have led me to think that extreme creativity still rules in the old country—in a very exciting and challenging way.

In November I was at my fifth UK B2B Marketing Awards in London. As an old-school creative, I soaked up the edgy, box-bursting, work with a self-indulgent and bit nostalgic passion. Big ideas, big budgets (by today’s standards) and big willingness to sell concepts hard.

Satisfied intellectually, I stayed curious. How do the lucky so-and-sos get away with it? A trip behind the curtains of brashness at the awards was called for. Fortunately, the clever blokes at UK B2B Marketing Magazine, especially the delightful extrovert, Joel Harrison, decided a ago week Thursday to put on a one-day deep-dive into the campaigns that won the awards.

They called it The Evidence. We were going to hear the real story behind the great campaigns. What channels and tactics did they use? Which one worked best?

Great, I thought. Now we’ll find out how they combine those ‘big’ creative things with the gritty reality of ROI—measurement, reporting, analytics, lead nurturing, cost per lead, cost per sale, sales and marketing integration.

Any North American earning 50 cents in today’s B2B market knows how that all works. Our plain-speaking US clients call it the Holy Grail. Closed-loop reporting. Connect the dots between four things: the dollar spent, the lead captured, the lead nurtured, and the sale that can be linked indisputably to that first dollar.

Sorry to say, I didn’t get the answers I hoped for.

Only 5% of the campaigns used marketing automation. As for ROI, no way was it a favorite three-letter acronym. As for analytics included in every budget—light years away me old mate.

Have I changed my mind about Brit creative? No way. Am I optimistic about the UK B2B marketing scene catching up with the tough but realistic demands of our North American clients? Yes.

The conversations at The Evidence certainly included a fair bit of grudging acknowledgement that the Americans were a ‘bit ahead of the game on the full lead nurturing package’.

But I came home to Toronto with my own Holy Grail. Bold global creative combined with analytics that satisfy even the toughest clients.


Image reproduced with permission from B2B Marketing Magazine.  

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