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Can B2B Marketing Break Through the Clutter With Emotion?

Date published: April 29, 2015
Last updated: April 29, 2015

We have seen many business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers jump on current social trends and carry an emotionally impactful, moving message. Their audience is inherently different than that of a business-to-business (B2B) company.

Regardless, great brands allow advocates to carry their message forward in an emotional way that connects with others on the deepest level. Certain brands find a unique way of storytelling that automatically associates it with what I’ll call “goodness.” Skype and the ALS Association have all done it recently. But when’s the last time you saw a B2B company market a message that made your heart melt?

Still waiting…


Yeah, me either. But just because B2B companies face a steep climb to generate emotionally-charged content doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It does, however, mean they’ll have to dig a little deeper, and do some reflecting on the values that built the company’s reason for being.

The Real Difference Between B2B & B2C Purchases

Ask yourself “What’s the main difference between B2C and B2B purchases?” In my mind, B2C purchases usually involve some sort of public marketing scheme aimed to drive a one-time (or repeated) transaction between and individual and a company.

B2B purchases, on the other hand, involve research, vendor comparisons and in-depth budgetary considerations that often take weeks or months. They involve transactions between multiple stakeholders.

In short, as a buyer in the B2C scenario, it’s fun. As a buyer in the B2B space, while we know the results will pay off for our companies, the process is usually anything but enjoyable.

But think about it this way. It seems that in a B2B scenario, with more high-level decisions going on between multiple decision makers that forging one-on-one relationships would actually be of more importance than it is in B2C.

The Role of Emotion in B2B Marketing

Joe Edwards, Social Director at MOI, recently shed some light on the role that emotion plays in B2B purchasing. It turns out B2B buying is indeed more emotional than B2C is. In fact, there can be five times more emotion involved in B2B buying than B2C.

With this new information on hand, will we see a fundamental shift in the way B2B brands market their products and services to other businesses? As a long time practitioner in the field myself, unfortunately, I don’t think it will happen right away.

Cultivating sticky messaging is a difficult task, and it gets more difficult the more sophisticated the product is. Companies that sell marketing software, cloud-based services and the like face a stark challenge in developing sticky branding that speaks to high-level marketers who are not likely to be swayed by fabricated promises.

Rooting Content in SUCCESs

I challenge all marketers to adopt the following measures for SUCCESs during all aspects of their day-to-day job. This means keeping things simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and story-like. Whether you’re a B2C or B2B marketer, if you can objectively create and judge all of your marketing communications and say “Yes, it is all of these,” then you’ve got a good head start. You’ll naturally begin to create leeway.

When it comes to marketing, many (especially B2B) companies won’t dare to stray too far from the facts and figures. All too often, they rely on the hard sell. Those that do, however, go for the emotional punch may reap rewards.

In terms of sales, the real measure of good, emotional B2B relationship building begins with one-on-one exchange between companies. This means friendly, empathetic, unparalleled and constant service. It means simply following through, answering calls, offering gifts and ‘thank yous.’ Sometimes we tend to forget that being emotionally impactful isn’t something we must do through our marketing. It’s something we can do as we sit at our desk.

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