Surekha Ragavan
Oct 4, 2019

B2B marketing shouldn’t be safe and predictable: Shutterstock CMO

Global CMO Lou Weiss on the why creativity shouldn’t be lost on B2B marketers.

Shutterstock's newer customers are prioritising diverse images that showcase people of all abilities
Shutterstock's newer customers are prioritising diverse images that showcase people of all abilities

“When I look at a lot of B2B marketing, it’s very rational,” says Lou Weiss, global CMO at Shutterstock.

Weiss has been a marketer for just under 30 years, and he says that people tend to justify decisions rationally but often make decisions emotionally. And contrary to popular belief, this also applies to B2B audiences, who brands often wrongfully associate with marketing that only focus on specs, price, and function, appealing only to the logical brain.

“Marketing techniques that appeal to both rational and emotional to create brand attachment and loyalty and interest are appropriate in the B2B context and a lot of B2B marketers miss that opportunity either because they themselves don’t necessarily see it or because the companies that they work for don’t see it even if they do,” says Weiss.

“It comes down to the DNA and personality of the company. If the company is managing its brand with integrity, by which I mean being the same on the outside as they are on the inside, then the brand that have that sort of emotion built into them will likely be the ones that get to connect with the customers. Even if they’re justifying with facts and figures as the best way to buy.”

Lou Weiss


In 2019, expectations of B2B consumers are going up, just as they are everywhere else. According to Weiss, Gen Z and millennials are becoming a predominant force in the marketplace, and being digital natives, their expectations of digital content are rising very quickly.

“And so there’s all this expectations from brands—whether B2B or B2C—to scale the quantity of content marketing while scaling the quality while also not going broke at the same time,” he says.

“It’s a tremendous amount of pressure on marketing groups. And the ones that are true storytellers who can also present facts and figures; they are going to do better in the long run.”

One area that Shutterstock is expanding quickly into is social media content. “We’re seeing huge growth in social media management, the content marketing management side of the business. And we’re seeing growth in the number of customers as well as their consumption,” says Weiss.

“Some [social media content creators] are doing a great job, and some are missing the opportunity. You’ve got to have a personality as it’s very hard to cut through the clutter.”

Stop motion animation is one of Shutterstock's creative trends this year  

As to the creative trends being used in social media content, Weiss says that the segment is becoming more sophisticated as it moves from image-only to video and music. “There are intricate production values. Again, because the sophistication of the customer base is going up and expectations are going up,” he says.

This group of customers too are charging ahead in terms of diverse and inclusivity, something that Shutterstock is proud about.

“That’s why we’re very proud of our 900,000-strong contributor network in over 100 countries around the world who contribute assets. Diversity comes naturally out of that. Advertisers are doing a really good job of being smart about it but I also think there are people who are aware that they need to more,” he says.

“There’s just more and more awareness of the need for greater diversity in advertising. And aside from it being the right thing to do, it’s just good business.”

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