Conventional B2B marketing wisdom tells us that our buyers don’t make purchases based on emotion. We believe our buyers are rational and influenced by our value proposition, which is rooted in facts and figures. We assume that irrational purchase decisions — based on ego or emotions — are the domain of the B2C buyer.

Even if this is true, does that mean B2B buyers don’t care about feeling emotionally connected to our brands? Research indicates this might be a dangerous assumption.

A few years ago, Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council surveyed 3,000 B2B buyers and compared those responses to marketing research firm Motista’s baseline data on B2C purchasers. The results indicated that 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy from you if they feel an emotional tie to your company’s brand. The study also showed that when B2B buyers see personal value (for example, an opportunity for career advancement or confidence/pride in their decision to purchase from you), they are:

  • 50% more likely to make a purchase
  • Eight times more likely to pay a premium price

Why Perceived Personal Value Matters

True, your average procurement officer won’t likely think like the typical B2C buyer. They won’t purchase from you to feel younger, skinnier, sexier or healthier. That said, the area of perceived personal value is still a huge potential win for B2B marketers.

The study defines “personal value” as any benefit that sparks a positive emotion for buyers. Think about it this way: Each purchase represents a certain level of professional risk. Yes, your prospects are wondering if and how your solution will help them increase value in traditional ways (aka, saving money/time or increasing revenue). However, it’s also very important to them to look good professionally. That could translate to

  • A promotion or other form of career advancement
  • Popularity among their team
  • Feelings of self-worth and confidence

On the flip side, a poor purchase decision could have consequences that might trigger a number of negative emotions. These might include

  • Loss of credibility amongst the team
  • Wasted time and money
  • Potentially getting fired

The more faith a B2B buyer has in your brand, the more confidence they will have in making a purchase from you.

Tips to Increase Your Emotional Connection with Buyers

With this in mind, it makes sense to become the kind of company that people love to work with. Never underestimate the power of likeability. B2B purchases often take several weeks (if not months) and can involve multiple stakeholders. It’s far easier to make a purchase from people who are likeable and enjoyable to work with.

In this respect, following the golden rule can help you create stronger connections with customers. In all your communication and dealings with prospects, treat them the way you wish others would treat you. Be flexible, honest, curious and always go the extra mile.

In terms of your messaging and marketing materials, keep the following points in mind.

Personalize your marketing messages. This doesn’t just mean getting their name and job title correct. It also means having the right intelligence to know the correct contact to reach out to, at the time that contact is most likely to be receptive to a message from you.

Don’t waste their time with unnecessary emails or questions. The beauty of living in a data-driven era is that you have access to unprecedented amounts information about your potential customer. The more you know about the customer based on the data they’ve generated (on your website and across the B2B web), the less frequently you’ll have to pester them to answer basic questions about who they are and what they’re looking for. In fact, if you’re leveraging data and predictive technologies effectively, you’ll be able to tailor your messages to build on where buyers are in their search process, since you’ll already know who they are and what they’re interested in buying.

Meet them on their turf. Not all channels are equal. Some customers prefer a text message or direct message on Twitter to an email. Other customers want to get an old-fashioned phone call. Make sure you know how your customers want to interact with you, and accommodate their preferences by using their preferred channel of communication.

Create buyer friendly content. There are a few key ways to make your content appealing to buyers, but the number one priority is to make sure your content reflects your buyer’s interests and pain points. Today’s B2B buyer has no patience to consume content that sounds like a product pitch.

Buyers are only human, which means all buyers are influenced by emotion to some extent. In the case of B2B buyers, tapping into the right emotions can influence their decision to purchase from you (not to mention how much they’re willing to spend). If you want to cultivate higher levels of customer loyalty and advocacy, make a concerted effort to strengthen your emotional connection to your buyers.

Technology is one way to do this. Data-driven technologies and strategies can help you better understand your customers and create a closer connection between your brand and your buyers. If you’d like to learn more about using data to connect with buyers, join us on in San Francisco on July 14th, 2016 at B2B ESP – the premier predictive intelligence summit.