Why Starling Bank decided to ‘reinvent’ B2B marketing

Determined not to come across as “another tone-deaf bank”, Starling Bank decided to bring substance and consumer-first thinking together to show it is taking business seriously.

Starling Bank MW Awards
Source: Starling Bank

B2B banking is a tough sector to navigate. Contending with established rivals with deep pockets and customer inertia, Starling Bank saw its consideration lagging at 13% having not produced a new B2B campaign for two years.

Ready for reinvention, the bank realised its B2B competitors were failing to embrace the power of combining rational messaging with the same emotional storytelling seen in their B2C campaigns.

Starling Bank saw an opportunity to surprise the big banks by overinvesting in a nationwide B2B campaign that would give the company a larger excess share of voice than it could ever achieve in B2C.

Teaming up with creative agency Wonderhood Studios, the bank decided to riff off B2C concept ‘Set Yourself Free’ with ‘Set Your Business Free’, a hybrid brand-building and response campaign. The new creative unified distinctive assets from the B2C campaign, featuring an emotional pay-off, premium feel and casting reflective of modern British business.

Four films covered the key product benefits around value, hassle-free sign-up, digital ease of use and help with money management.

The strategy paid off. Ad awareness among key business decision makers almost doubled, hitting 17% in Q1 2022, while consideration among B2B customers reached 23%, helping Starling Bank win the Marketing Week Award for B2B.

The campaign saw Starling increase its market share from 6.3% to 7.5% – half that of rival Barclays – and open 61,511 new B2B accounts, 15% growth from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022. Such is the rate of growth CEO Anne Boden sees a “strong possibility” Starling Bank will overtake Barclays in B2B within five years.



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