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Business gets emotional

“Emotions have no place in business, unless you do business with them.” – Friedrich Durrenmatt

Strategy

Matt Warder

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We love our food at Omobono. We also love discussions, especially those involving business-to-business marketing.

Combining these two passions, alongside our friends from the Marketing Society, we recently had the pleasure of discussing the ‘role of emotions in business-to-business marketing’ over dinner. It quickly became apparent that emotions run high – particularly within large enterprises.

In a previous article, we have written about the emotional impact of making key business decisions. During this dinner, we probed a little further on the role emotions might play in B2B. As the conversation progressed our perspectives broadened, particularly as we considered the various elements of emotion including (but not limited to) ambition, humour, risk mitigation, trust and belief – all key emotional elements that contribute to the decision making process.

Our guests spoke of differing opinions on how teams and colleagues felt about the brand internally when compared to its external emotional appeal. The group largely shared the point of view that employees often have a more emotional relationship to the brand than our customers.

As further courses emerged and our drinks refuelled, five themes began to emerge:

1. Dialogue, don’t broadcast
Sharing a perspective is great. If that perspective is interesting and well-presented, so much the better. But how can you possibly know if your words are influential without true engagement? By first listening deeply and then building an understanding, marketers can increase the success levels of their campaigns as this applied knowledge increases the likelihood of positive engagement. Without it, you are broadcasting in the dark.

2. Touch me
Customers are increasingly well informed. Information is abundant and we are equipping ourselves with a wide array of data before making decisions. As a result, B2B decision-makers engage 12 brand touch points before reaching their decision. To begin to manage this we must suffuse the brand – throughout the entire funnel and especially digital channels – with an appropriately emotional response to ensure we meet both the rational and emotional needs of the buyer.

3. Seriously, I mean it
B2C campaigns often embrace controversial ideas in a manner that helps brands rise above the rest. However, there is still a reluctance to take comparable risks in B2B owing perhaps to a fear of not being taken seriously.

We believe boldness in decision making and execution is urgently required to close the gap between the rich expectations of customers and the dated beliefs of some who condone ‘good enough’ or risk free B2B programming as it’s the ‘way we’ve always done it.’ Good enough, quite simply, isn’t.

4. Inside out
Employees are often our most convincing brand ambassadors. Communications programmes that rarely connect on an emotional level and fail to live up to their expectations for the brand, at best leaves opportunity on the table and at worst risks widening the gap between a passionate and loyal employee followership and your customers.

Surely it is time to boldly embrace this opportunity and, rather than mind the gap, eradicate it completely?

5. Same old nuts
As coffee arrived, one of our number rounded out the evening nicely by asking how to position the ‘same old nuts’.

We were reminded that, despite our bravest attempts to finesse the latest and greatest [insert product, solution or service here], we are often simply advocating for a newer version of what came before. When there truly is nothing to differentiate one product from the next (as is often the case in, for example, commodities) perhaps all that remains is our ability to connect with our customers and prospects on an emotional level?

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