What is the hook in B2B marketing?

What makes a great hook in B2B marketing? In this blog, we explore what a great hook looks like and how to craft your own.

William Sale
6 MIN|August 31, 2023
A hook trying to hook in the readers.

Pretend you’re in the dating game. You walk into a bar, spot a good-looking human, and walk over casually. Cool-as-a-cucumber, you think. Then you open your mouth.

A chat up line can be the difference between a date and a boot out the door. In the same way, the B2B marketing hook is your (the content marketer’s) first point of contact with a customer.

In B2B content marketing, a hook can look like:

  1. A great blog title
  2. An attention-grabbing headline
  3. Campaign headlines
  4. A smooth email subject line
  5. An enticing banner ad
  6. An urgent promotion
  7. A video title

But what makes a great hook in B2B marketing? Think about every hook that has, well, hooked you. What’s kept you on the page, arrested you on the spot, or made you think about reading more? One word: connection. Like a chat up line, a hook is a bid for attention, paving the way for more contact.

Get your tools ready, it’s time to craft your hook.

Examples of effective hooks in B2B marketing

In the world of B2B marketing, there are many hooks that have been at the centre of global campaigns. Here’s a few you may remember:

“I’m a PC” - Microsoft

Bill Gates holding a paper bag for his "I'm a PC" campaign,

When Apple launched its “Get a Mac” campaign that sought to make PC’s boring, Microsoft had to respond. And what better way than to get an actual Microsoft employee into the mix whilst phoning in big celebrities of the era. Here's their infamous "I'm a PC" campaign.

What’s notable about the hook, is that it’s personal. With the super-rich and cool proudly claiming their allegiance, you can’t help but not think about joining them. At the end of the day, we all want to be rich and famous (or is it just me?), and the hook really drives to the need of wanting to be more.

Think Different - Apple

Apple's "Think Different" campaign.

Speaking of Apple, when you’re going up against the might of Bill Gates and Microsoft then you need your wits and creativity. Apple had “Think Different”, and that gelled at the time (and still does) with creatives and innovators everywhere.

How do you go beyond the behemoth of Microsoft? You think differently. Again, it tickles at the heart of any creative or company looking to go forwards, and not stay in one place. Growth is the at heart of every company, and Apple knew how to align with that mentality.

Every Second Counts - IBM

IBM's "Every Second Counts" campaign with an hourglass in the middle.

This giant of technology was crafting a multimedia campaign around cybersecurity in finance. How do you make stakeholders wake up to the dangers? By crafting a hook that speaks to their very worst fears. When security of your most valued data is compromised every second really does count. Without the right systems in place to defend and prevent such actions, the worst-case scenario is unavoidable. The hook has the emotional weight to inspire action before the unthinkable can happen.

How to develop effective B2B marketing hooks for campaigns

Sharpening a compelling hook requires careful thought and consideration. You don’t just jump in. It takes time and careful crafting – like the best of tools. Here are some tips and best practices to help you develop effective hooks that grab attention and drive engagement:

  1. Know your audience - You need more than a crystal ball to understand your target audience's challenges, goals, and motivations. Once you have data and research on your side, you’ll be able to tailor your hook to resonate with their specific needs and make a connection.
  2. Tell a joke - Funny gets the girl (or the customer). If your TOV allows it, don’t be afraid to be funny. If a joke is too daring, work in a pun or rhyme. It’s a way to stand out among a pretty dull crowd. When in doubt, attract their attention in a way they don’t expect.
  3. Heart over head - Emotive advertising is, in almost every case, more effective than rationale. Whether it’s with excitement or empathy, a great hook pulls on the emotive strings of your customer. In fact, aiming for the heart can give your emotive marketing a success rate of 31%.
  4. Be clear and concise - Keep your hook short and to the point. Use concise language that communicates the value or benefit your product or service offers. Remember, your hook is not War & Peace. You need to make an emotional impact in as few words as possible.
  5. Create a sense of urgency - Convey a sense of urgency or FOMO to prompt immediate action. Limited time offers or exclusive access can generate excitement and drive engagement. Are you a Black Friday regular? Then you know what urgency is. “Only available until...”, “Stock going fast” etc are all part of the urgency lexicon.
  6. Use compelling language - Choose strong and persuasive words that evoke emotions and create a sense of desire or curiosity. Before you start crafting the hook, what emotions are you wanting to convey? What do you want the audience to feel? That will determine which compelling words you use.
  7. Test and refine - Don’t settle. Test. By continuously testing different hooks, you’ll see which ones resonate best with your audience. A/B testing can help you identify the most effective hooks and refine your approach over time to have the sharpest hook in the toolbox.

Create hooks that resonate on a deeper level with your target audience.

Common mistakes to avoid when developing a hook in B2B marketing

You don’t want a blunt hook. You want one that is sharp and effective. Nevertheless, there are common mistakes that can render your efforts obsolete. Here are a few examples to watch out for:

Being too vague

A hook should clearly communicate the value or benefit you offer. Avoid using generic or ambiguous language that fails to capture attention or convey your unique selling proposition. Be sharp, not soft. Be clear, not vague. If you’re boosting automation across logistics verticals to save time and money for clients, then be clear on what you’re selling and what it can do. “Want to boost productivity by 30% across your workforce?” is a great shout. Something like “Save time” is a bit too broad. Save time doing what?


While it's important to grab attention, be careful not to make unrealistic or exaggerated claims in your hook. This can lead to disappointment and damage your credibility. Basically, don’t say “It’s time change your life” ...not unless you’re selling the literal Holy Grail.

Neglecting personalisation

Personalisation is key in B2B marketing. Failing to tailor your hook to the specific pain points and needs of your target audience can result in missed opportunities. If you’re selling a SaaS product that will transform how healthcare professionals protect their patient’s data from cyber attacks, then hit on their pain points e.g. cost, infrastructure etc. Hit the nail right on the head.

To avoid these mistakes, it's crucial to thoroughly understand your audience, maintain authenticity, and deliver on the promises you make in your hook.

The role of personalisation in B2B marketing hooks

You know what makes hooks more effective? Personalisation. By leveraging customer data and insights, you can create hooks that resonate on a deeper level with your target audience.

To personalise your hooks, do the following:

  • Segment your audience based on relevant criteria such as industry, job title, or pain points.
  • Tailor your hooks to address their specific challenges and aspirations.

Personalisation can be as simple as referencing their industry or using language that speaks directly to their roles and responsibilities.

Best practices for personalising hooks include using dynamic content that adapts based on the recipient's profile, utilising automation tools to deliver targeted hooks at the right time, and continuously analysing customer data to refine your personalisation strategy.

The future of B2B marketing hooks

With all the changes that are happening right now (hello, AI overlords!), what does the future look like for B2B marketing hooks? Emerging trends and technologies are shaping the way hooks are developed and delivered to capture audience attention.

One exciting trend is the use of interactive hooks, such as quizzes or polls, that engage the audience and provide personalised recommendations based on their responses. Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities can enable hooks to become even more personalised and predictive, delivering highly targeted messages to individual prospects.

Go beyond the hook

To stay ahead of the curve, it's important to stay updated on the latest trends, experiment with new technologies, and continuously adapt your hook strategy to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your audience.

But you also need the right partner by your side. At Fifty Five and Five, we’re here to help you at every step of your B2B marketing efforts. Not only will we refine a B2B marketing hook that pulls in your audience, but we’ll build paid media campaigns and more that drive conversions.

Want to attract your audience and supercharge growth? Let’s chat!

From capture to conversion

We go beyond capturing prospective leads with the hook. We can build a whole lead generation strategy from capture, through lead nurture and to conversion. We formulate our strategy around your audience by incorporating different areas of marketing. Check our our full list of services.