SHANGHAI: Business-to-business marketers in Asia are taking a leaf out of the business-to-consumer playbook as they explore new ways to engage their target audience beyond a focus on price and product.

"B2B companies must articulate 'why we matter' instead of 'what we do,'" Eric Lin, Shanghai general manager at branding agency Siegel+Gale, explained to Campaign Asia-Pacific. "Customers will quickly tune you out if all you talk about is how great your product is," he said.

A similar point was made at a recent seminar by Mitchell Tan, managing director for Greater China at Doremus, a specialist B2B agency. "Engagement, not selling, is a more powerful way to reach and connect with the audience," he argued.

"This hold true across every aspect of B2B, from, data and strategy to creative expression," he added.

BNY Mellon, a bank servicing institutional clients, successfully adopted B2C tactics when it sought to inspire new thinking about its brand in Asia. It aligned itself with the work of artist Andy Warhol and sponsored a five-city exhibition under the positioning "where the business of art meets the art of business".

Out-of-home advertising and the use of a pink-painted "Popping Andy" character created additional buzz. Tan suggested this integrated approach was a new take: "It's using a B2C strategy to elevate a B2B objective," he said.

Sean Fitzgerald, executive vice president of PR business Ketchum China, noted an increase in the use of webinars and videos in B2B communications in the country.

He argued that content marketing and social media were fast becoming important elements of the B2B marketer's media mix, too.

"Social media also gives a personality to what might be perceived as a dry or undynamic B2B organisation," said Fitzgerald. "Even B2B audiences want to be entertained."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff