Marketing is inherently a human-centred business. It involves diving into the messy, unpredictable, squishy mess of the human mind and pulling out all the insights and lessons we need to connect with our customers and sell our products.
In most areas of marketing, we are aware of this. When it comes to B2B marketing, however, most people seem to forget it. Even while we talk openly about the need to connect with our B2B customers and audience members on a human level, we seem to ignore our own advice when it comes to actually doing this.
The truth — as we’ll explore in this article — is that emotion trumps logic a huge amount of the time in marketing, and B2B is no exception.
B2B: feelings don’t care about your facts
It’s tempting to think of B2B marketing as a more sober, fact-based process — one dominated by serious, grey-suited buyers sitting around boardroom tables and making decisions based exclusively on cold, hard logic.
The stats, however, would disagree. Take a look at these findings:
B2B is more personal
The final finding above is one worth paying particular attention to because it helps explain why B2B purchases have such a strong emotional component.
B2B purchases can have an enormous impact on a buyer’s personal life. Choosing the right product can get impressive results for your business, net you a promotion at your company, and gain you recognition and praise.
According to Google: “B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value – such as the opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice – in their business purchase decision. They are 8x more likely to pay a premium for comparable products and services when personal value is present.”
Emotion first, logic later
It’s fairly well-established in psychology that people tend to make decisions based on emotion, and then retroactively justify the decisions using logical reasoning. This happens at every level of human intelligence and corporate responsibility.
Almost 20 years ago, I was involved in pitching an enterprise solution to a very large, well-known organisation. After an exhaustive — and highly logical — process, the buyer (the CIO) said, “Your solution addresses 90% of what we need, and [major software house]’s solution only solves around 50%, but you’re not them so I’m not going with you.”
That person ultimately went with what they knew as opposed to what was logically the best solution. This is not at all an unusual scenario — hard facts and airtight arguments often fail to stand up against personal relationships and strong positive feelings towards another brand.
None of this is bad news for B2B marketers. Instead, it’s an opportunity — we just need to figure out how to tap into this element of human nature to our advantage.
Focus on the right selling points
When marketing B2B products, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of focusing mainly, or exclusively, on logical arguments and facts. Buyers are rarely looking for perfection, instead, they want trust — trust that they’ve engaged with the right partner, that they aren’t going to get ripped off, and that they’ve minimised personal and commercial risk. They want to see something of themselves in the brands they choose to engage with.
In technology marketing this aspect of decision making is almost entirely ignored. It’s seen as fluffy and irrelevant and underpinned by the unspoken assumption that the C-suite decision-makers of multi-million-pound tech companies are somehow immune to the same emotional biases and patterns as the rest of us.
Bring facts and feelings together
We’re all human, and we all make decisions based, at least in part, on emotion. As B2B marketers we can use this to our advantage — stop trying to couch every marketing activity in pure logic and drag every interaction with our prospects back into the realm of hard data.
Of course, facts play a key role and should form a core part of all your B2B marketing messaging. But they shouldn’t be working alone.
Well-crafted storytelling, real-life case studies, personal stories, and real relationship-building are just as important, and if done right can give you a formidable advantage.
At Ice Blue Sky, we can help you reach your marketing goals and connect with your customers more effectively than ever before. Contact us to find out more and get started.