In today’s commoditized and saturated marketing climate, B2B marketers are getting a lot more customer-centric and putting more energy into their efforts to brand themselves. A fundamental part of brand building has always been to craft a personal connection with users. However, assuming their potential customers make solely rational decisions, B2B marketers are concentrating on business value to set their brands apart. Is this the right assumption to make? Does emotional connection really make a difference?
Are Business Customers More Likely To Buy When They Have Emotional Connections To B2B Brands?
Crafting a really beloved brand and building personal connections with consumers has always been fundamental to B2C marketing. However, for B2B marketers, it’s not quite so easy. They really have to get through to decision-makers, but those consumers have to deal with the considerations of purchasing committees, advisors, and corporate procurement guidelines. This unique framework distances the marketer from the customer’s emotions and personal tastes and assumes a “rational” frame that is lacking in emotion.
However, we often don’t remember that there are people attempting to work as a team to come to a decision, there will be social dynamics at work, and, inevitably, emotional forces will come into play. With this information in mind, could B2B marketing rely just on personal connection even more so than B2C marketing?
Google teamed up with CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and a marketing research firm to look at 3,000 buyers of more than 30 B2B brands across several industries. What they discovered was that B2B brands drove even more personal connections than B2C brands. What they discovered was that B2B customers were much more emotionally connected to their service providers and vendors than consumers were.
Even though it may seem a little surprising initially, this high level of emotional bonding with B2B customers is easy to understand. When a personal purchaser makes a bad purchase decision, there is not much to lose. Business purchases, on the other hand, can involve a lot of risk: multi-million dollar losses, job loss, and poor business performance. The business customer just won’t purchase unless there is a strong personal connection there.
B2B marketers have to build excitement and create emotional connections with their customers, which can lead to important buying outcomes like pricing power and purchase intent. B2B purchases are nearly 50% more likely to purchase a product or service when they see personal value – such as pride or confidence in their choice or opportunity for career advancement.
Even though we tend to think of organizations as logical rational, there are people within them, and people make purchasing decision. When B2B brands get personal, they get ahead.
By not allowing the company to be limited by labels, and by putting the necessary personality, energy, and creativity into building your brand, you enable that emotional connection to happen. Trying to fit into a certain demographics’ box will ultimately limit the company and alienate the company from its customers. There is an alternate approach, though.
Promoting A Brand With Labels? Refuse To Be Labeled
Of course, promoting your brand with corporate swag with the company label on it (t-shirts, mugs, gift bags, etc.) is always a good idea, and that goes without saying. The other kinds of labels, though, are what should be avoided. It is essential to keep the business from being labeled. Because, as soon as it becomes labeled, it is limited to doing just that one thing – at least in the minds of consumers. Look at what Steve Jobs did in rebranding Apple Computer as Apple or what Mark Ecko has always talked about: creating something authentic, creative, personal, and unique that reflects the individual human spirit. If one can imbue the brand and the business with that life, it will transcend most labels and be able to morph like a chameleon in an ever-changing marketplace.
Looking at it from a different point-of-view, however, is also necessary. Being great at one thing, like social, search, or devices – for Facebook, Google, or Apple, respectively, is a good thing. However, all of these three companies have expanded out into each other’s spheres of influences and are facing some opposition (especially in the minds of consumers) of being the best at something they were not known for to begin with.
Don’t ever let the business stagnate around a certain label. Make it as unique, authentic, and versatile as the human spirit in its products, services, and offerings. The company will see tremendous B2B interest if you can prove excellence in several areas. Plus, it makes the business look more like an all-in-one solutions provider.