Why an emotional marketing strategy matters in B2B

B2B marketing strategy should have an aspect of emotional marketing strategy – after all, B2B buyers are humans too, and humans react to emotion.

And B2B marketing strategy doesn’t have to be stiff. B2B marketing can be emotional marketing.

Ashley Poynter - emotional marketing expert
Ashley Poynter

Ashley Poynter, of Content Rewired, joined me on the Business Storytelling Podcast to discuss this topic as well: How do we add more emotion into our B2B marketing?

B2B marketing strategy for real people

At the end of the day, B2B buyers are also people. They have problems that need to be addressed through products, software, etc. That’s really no different from any marketing.

In B2C marketing, the market is bigger, and depending on the product, individual consumers make purchasing decisions. In B2B, we have a smaller group of buyers and several people usually make buying in tandem.

Why is arousing emotion in B2B marketing strategy important?

People connect around emotions, Ashley explained. That could be fear, happiness or sadness.

“Empathize with your audience,” she said. “Instead of just talking at them.”

Sometimes it’s as simple as using more creative words. For example, a podcast host of a show for accountants might say, “Why don’t you stop crunching numbers for a minute and crunch our subscribe button.”

Simple, creative, and with a bit of wordplay but ultimately a call to action.

Read next: Unlocking the Potential of AI in Marketing

Why is emotion so hard in B2B marketing strategy?

Some B2B brands or their leaders have grown up in the age of where businesses do serious marketing. That’s okay to an extent, but it can also be overdone. And hinder brands from standing out.

Sometimes it’s about lengthy and unnecessary workflows and approval processes. Why does this person and this one and that one and five more get to edit every piece of content? Do they have any experience in editing? Do they know what keywords we are trying to rank for? I’ve seen “editors” edit the important stuff out because they are editing for personal preference, too.

“That’s a preconceived notion that B2B is so serious, and you must always talk in this authoritative tone,” Ashley said.

Ashley recommends that expectations should be set for everyone who is involved in the process. What’s their role? What’s the expectation of what they can and cannot do? People involved must understand the importance of emotion in the B2B marketing strategy.

“I’ve seen that happen where a marketing manager had this really creative idea with emotion and then when it makes its way through executives and legal it’s a mingled mess from where the person started,” Ashley said. “That’s why it’s important to get buy-in before starting.”

Relationships come in here as well. When the team trusts each other, marketers can implement things without having to be put through the wringer.

Read next: Bringing Results with Strategic Writing & Strategic Content

What emotions to go after in emotional marketing

Brian Gregory, of ADMANITY, said marketers need to pick one to three emotions that they are trying to address in their content. Don’t go after too many types of emotions.

What’s too much emotion in marketing?

Of course, there’s a fine line to invoking fear. If you tell people that “your building will burn if you don’t buy our product and our product alone” that’s drawing on the wrong emotions. And isn’t believable.

That’s where storytelling comes in, Ashley explained. It starts like any campaign:

  • What do we want people to get out of it?
  • Then how do we create content that drives toward that?

”Collaboration with teams is best,” Ashley said. “Also, keep your finger on what other brands are doing.”

Read next: Product picture ideas: 12 Effective Ways To Increase Product Image Quality

How to add emotions into a product video

Though being helpful and showing examples of what can go wrong can be okay. Ashley mentioned a high-dollar campaign for printers. The campaign showed all the things that could go wrong.

The alternative to something like that is to put up a video and say, ‘here’s our printer and all the different security features’,” she said. “What this video did instead is it ran through actual scenarios that could happen.”

It certainly instills fear, but “it’s the right kind of fear,” Ashley said. “We are here to help you do your job better, and isn’t that what you want?”

Read next: Marketing in Motion: Short-Form Video Connects with Audience

How does creative and lead gen work together?

Creative marketing is needed to drive leads and draw attention.

“The research is showing that when we add a little humor or joy into this marketing, people are more responsive,” Ashley said.

To drive leads, as discussed in “Scorecard Marketing,” companies:

  • Have to identify the need
  • Ensure the prospects sees the need
  • Have a good offer that would fulfill that need
  • Offer reasons why a purchase must happen now

Where do we get great content for our B2B marketing strategy?

One strategy is to have the marketing team interview the experts and then create content from those interviews. That can look like this:

  • Interview experts on audio and then publish a podcast
  • Publish an article and more campaign assets from the interview

”Trying different channels is so important,” Ashley said. “Different messages and different tones resonate with different people.”

Of course, make sure that you align your content with your audience personas. Then create content for them and iterate it from there, Ashley said.

How do you measure the success of your B2B marketing strategy?

Certainly, sales are one metric. But page views and shares also matter and give you an indication of whether or not your audience even engages and connects with your content.

”Some people call these vanity metrics, but they are an indication of what people are engaged and are paying attention to this,” Ashley said. But keep in mind to not just look at one metric. Look at the overall picture.

At the end of the day, marketing is a numbers game. Tamara Burkett reminded us on the Business Storytelling Podcast that 3 percent of your relevant audience is ready to buy. That also means that you have to reach a good-sized audience of prospects even to have that pool of potential.

At the end of the day, marketing – including in B2B – is changing and evolving. People consume content on a variety of channels and many are competing for our attention. Even completely unrelated companies and content producers.

For example, I listen to podcasts daily. When new episodes show up, my business-related podcasts are competing for my attention with the leisure and sports podcasts. They all come into the same place and try to get me to listen.

”Try new things,” Ashley said. “It’s tough. I do think a lot of companies get stuck in ‘that’s how we’ve always done it and that’s the way it has worked’.”

And oftentimes that’s true, but how do you know it won’t work better until you try?

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