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Why Emotion (and Personal Value) Should Star in Your B2B Marketing

We are surrounded by marketing content every day in both our personal & professional lives, but what is it that makes us discuss it with our friends & colleagues? Forward that email? Share that video, picture or web link? And most importantly, what makes an individual actually purchase a product or service for themselves or for their company?

Well, there’s branding. Branding expert Rob Frankel’s view is that, “Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to shop”.

Then there’s knowing your audience. You need to know them well enough to send them the right message, at the right time, in the right channel.

What about return on investment? If only we can quantify the value we bring, the thinking goes, we can convince the customer to buy.

Branding. Knowing your audience. ROI. All of these are pretty important—but not quite enough on their own.

So what is missing?

Emotion is the Key

Emotions define who we are, and the value of emotional memories to an individual is immeasurable. For a B2C marketer, the strategy is fairly clear: make them feel something, evoke a memory of bittersweet happiness, appeal to their primitive instinct. Essentially, evoke an emotional reaction.

Take McDonalds. Billions of people across the world will recognize the logo instantly, spending far more time ordering their Big Mac at the drive-through than they will ever spend considering why the Golden Arches are yellow. But combining the Golden Arches, a color chosen to generate feelings of warmth and happiness, with slogans such as, At McDonalds we’ve got time for you and the more recent I’m lovin’ it  encourages the customer to feel good about their purchase, despite the ingrained knowledge that it is not a healthy option for their lunchtime break.

If a logo or an advertisement is capable of bringing that emotion to the surface and linking it to a product or service, combined with the resolution of a practical problem, it can convince a consumer to open their wallet. But what about a business?

Emotion in B2B Marketing

Recent research indicates that an emotional connection is no longer applicable only in B2C marketing and is becoming of greater importance within the B2B industry.

Research by the Corporate Executive Board indicates that while 71% of buyers who see personal value will buy a product, only 31% of prospective customers think B2B brands provide personal value. That’s a big disconnect…and a big opportunity for your company to jump in with personal value (aka emotion). Check out the awesome infographic by Kapost for more stats:

Emotion in B2B marketing infographic

How to Get the Feelings Flowing

When it comes to gathering and analyzing customer data, most B2B marketers focus heavily on firmographics, install base and other products those customers have purchased. While these pieces are still important to your marketing, you need to ask new questions to make an emotional connection, like:

  • What do I know about the people behind the decisions?
  • What do they do?
  • Who do they associate with?
  • What do they value?
  • What are their biggest pain points?
  • What is the highlight of their day?

And you need to supplement your traditional CRM data with new sources of customer information, like:

  • Social media
  • Online forums
  • Channel metrics (through what channel did your customer find you)
  • Product usage (what parts of your offering are your customers engaged with)
  • Customer support channels
  • Customer satisfaction surveys

Collecting new types of information from new sources and analyzing intelligently will help you to unveil a more complete portrait of your customer and find some key nuggets to guide your emotional marketing.

Customers contacted by a company with a new offering, based on previous purchasing history only, may question whether their specific needs, both business and personal, are understood, or whether they are simply another person to be pitched to. Don’t be that guy (or gal). Take the time to get to know your customers, capture their emotions, and inject some personal value into your marketing.

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