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Conjuring Connections: B2B Customers And Emotional Ties with Brands

B2B Marketing

Evoking the emotions of customers has long been used a key tactic for many B2C brands when trying to get build customer loyalty and ultimately, increase sales.

It’s assumed that because the purchase is usually a personal one, there must be some reason over and above the logical and pragmatic that consumers might choose you over and above your competitors.

Conjuring an emotional attachment in a customer is one of the most powerful ways marketers can hook in potential customers.

Following that logic, it seems fairly certain to assume that igniting this kind of emotional response in B2B sales processes just can’t work the same way. Well, a recent bit of research from Google (partnered with CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council) showed that this might not be the case at all. In fact it suggested that an emotional connection may be EVEN stronger in B2B cases.

An Emotional Response

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Straight off the bat, it’s important to remember that at the heart of any business purchase is just a group of people trying to make a decision on way or the other. Inevitably there will be interpersonal forces at work, and hence, emotions.

Working with Motista, the researchers surveyed over 3,000 purchasers of 36 B2B brands across multiple industries.

Perhaps the biggest revelation that came from the research was that of the hundreds of B2B brands that Motista has studies, most have emotional connections with between 10 and 40% of consumers. Conversely, in seven out of nine cases with B2B brands, over 50% noted an emotional connection with the brand.

So What’s Actually Going on Here?

Well, a lot of things. A great way to look at it is like this: If a customer buying for themselves makes a poor buying decision, there’s usually not too much at stake. In the case of tangible product, best case scenario is you can return it. If it’s a service, you’ve maybe blown a little disposable income. Come next month’s pay you can hopefully forget about it and move on.

However with enterprise purchases, there is usually a far greater amount of risk involved. If the buck stops with you over multi-million pound/dollar deals, poor decision making can easily cost your job and livelihood.

The research suggests that business customers won’t commit to a decision unless there is a substantial amount of belief and trust, and therefore a strong emotional connection, present. It also showed that interestingly, only 14% of decision makers were willing to pay a premium for differentiation alone, indicating that a higher connection is required with a seller to really drive a sale.

Conjuring a Connection

The research brought to light some really interesting ideas about how we should think of the B2B buying process, and the decisions makers involved. Clearly, excitement, and anticipation of rewards, both professional and personal can drive important purchase outcomes. Purchasers are almost 50% more likely to commit if they see some form of personal value – career advancement or pride in their choice for example.

At the root of it, businesses are not as pragmatic and formulaic as we like to assume. Perhaps it gives us a sense of security and continuity to assume organisational decision making processes hold a certain mechanistic quality. But it seems that’s not quite the case at all. By focussing on the personal, rather than the logical, it seems B2B marketers can stand to get a lot further with potential buyers.

You can read the full whitepaper from CEB and Google here.

Image sourced through Creative Commons – Original image from Neuron Narrative

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