B2B buyers will be, and always have been humans with emotions. Despite this, B2B marketers have not always woven this information into their strategies. They use complex, feature-laden language which can make the buying process difficult.
All of us have learned what makes a smart business purchase: ROI. ROI is serious. ROI isn’t fun, engaging, adventurous, or inspirational. But it is important, and we’d be fools to not understand it. At the same time, it isn’t the end-all of persuasion, especially as products become more commoditized and less differentiated.
As emotive humans, buyers are not pure ROI, feature-evaluating robots. People like drama. They like humor. They like novelty. Ideas like emotion, empathy, and values are at the heart of our culture. They want to engage with personable, creative brands that know how to make ideas “pop” and create long relationships with them.
For B2B marketers, the thought of including emotion in their work may be intimidating. How can someone relate on an emotional level to such straightforward topics? But by using emotion in their work, B2B marketers can elevate their brand to stand out above most others. Trust, confidence, and humor are all ways to engage customers by incorporating it into previous selling tactics. As younger generations become more prevalent in the corporate world, there has been a shift from seeing strictly professional life to a blend of professional life and personal experience. Consumers want to share values with companies and know the people they are working with on a personal level. They want to work with brands that touch on fairness, the environment, diversity, and equity. They want to see real action being taken and see how brands really can make a difference in the world and in their relationship.
Personalization in communications can help make the emotional approach possible. It can be used hand in hand with data, and when used correctly makes the experience for the buyer much more impactful.
A transition to fully embracing emotion into current tactics will take time for B2B marketers as they have traditionally used straight-forward, rational messaging. This requires the creative to be matched with data and channel execution tools to match the right message, the right tone, and the perfect creative at the individual customer level, making the experience that much more relevant and powerful.
The idea of “human enablement” vs. “technology” captures these concepts in way that can elegantly merge with a B2B brand’s core messaging. The company strives to move human wellbeing forward, whether that’s through the tactical value of their products or how they affect society at large.
A word of caution: it’s critical that companies genuinely commit to being purpose driven and not seem to be “purpose washing.” It’s easy and often detrimental to put a big, caring, socially driven message in the market without backing it up with real-world action. Making some bold creative decisions – whether emotional, humorous, or purpose-driven – will be an uncomfortable departure for many. It will require bold support for new ideas, a willingness to defend controversy, a persuasive attitude, and some risk taking. Mistakes will be made throughout, as it can be hard to find the needed balance between when to use emotion and when a more data driven approach is necessary.
Want to learn the key components of creative transformation needed to move forward? Read Merkle’s new report, Push the B2B Boundaries, here and learn how you can obtain a more creative and out of the box process.