In Business to Business Marketing, Storytelling Matters

Often times, people make purchases based on how a product or marketing campaign makes them feel. This is something that marketers have understood for decades, which is why business to consumer (B2C) marketers strive to elicit strong emotions from their marketing campaigns.

But what about business to business (B2B) marketing? Historically, business to business marketers have left out emotions in favor of more logical, rational angles.

There are three reasons why small businesses that primarily deal with other businesses should employ the same emotion-centric marketing tactics that consumer-facing businesses use.

1. Businesses aren’t run by robots

One problem with avoiding emotional marketing for B2B customers is that, until machines take over, decision makers are people. This means that they don’t make decisions based purely on rational factors.

In fact, Google surveyed 3,000 B2B brand purchasers across multiple industries to find out how important emotions are in the decision-making process.

The survey revealed that “B2B purchasers are almost 50 percent more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value — such as opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice — in their business purchase decision.”

They’re also eight times more likely to pay a premium for a B2B product if they attach personal value to it.

So, how can you apply this information to B2B marketing? Think about the demographics of your audience. How can your product or service help this group of people impress their bosses? Reveal the answer in your marketing and storytelling materials.

2. There are fewer hierarchical layers in B2B decision-making

In the past, B2B clients were typically large corporations with thousands of employees and layers upon layers of hierarchy.

Today’s startups are leaner. Decisions are less bureaucratic, and you’re more likely to appeal directly to a CEO or founder when you’re engaging in business to business marketing efforts.

Today’s founders can be extremely passionate about their businesses — you might even hear a founder refer to a business as their “baby.” When you’re marketing to a parent, you can rely heavily on emotion.

If this sounds like your customer base, think about why founders and early adopters started or joined a company. What are their goals? How can you use emotional marketing to show them how your product can help them achieve those goals?

3. Emotional marketing is differentiation

It’s now easier than ever to start a business, which means that there’s more competition out there. In an ocean of B2B marketing noise, how do you stand out? You can differentiate your brand by establishing human connections achieved through emotional marketing.

Consider Slack, a communications company in an extremely competitive field. Slack differentiated itself by being one of the first in its industry to rely heavily on emotional marketing. Its product description even states that using Slack is key in “making you more productive, less stressed, and just a little bit happier.”

B2B communication was a saturated market when Slack began, but since then, the company has been labeled by Fast Company as one of the fastest growing business applications of all time. Additionally, Business Insider reports that the company brings in more than $1 million in new contracts every 11 days.

To differentiate yourself from the competition, look at what your competitors are doing and turn up the heat on those emotions. The most compelling emotions that you can elicit in B2B marketing are security, trust, and excitement. Can you demonstrate how your product provides more security? Can you become more trustworthy than your competition? Can you bring some more excitement to your clients?

Emotional marketing is not manipulation, it’s just marketing. If your business to business marketing isn’t eliciting the right kind of emotions, you might get left in the dust.


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