Let’s admit it: B2C (business-to-consumer) marketers have all the fun.
But what about B2B (business-to-business) marketers? Why is it so traditionally tempting to go to market with bland, safe and undifferentiated marketing?
Heck, things are so boring in B2B land that many B2B marketers think just putting up a video is considered “viral.” Um, no.
Think about it: Why does every law firm trumpet their 140 year history, their award-winning attorneys, and client-oriented service? The pressure to be safe is palpable.
Are business decision-makers – those men and women in power suits in the corner office – really that devoid of personality? Are they that turned off by a creative approach to starting a conversation with them?
Part of the issue may be that many B2B organizations emphasize relationship and sales excellence above brand, social media and the “upper funnel” metrics of awareness and affinity. While this is understandable considering the business world’s more complex sales cycles, B2B marketers are leaving too much on the table in regard to building brand awareness and emotional loyalty.
A 2009 Gallup study found that 65% of business decision-makers are “actively disengaged” or “not engaged” with B2B brands. In other words, these decision-makers show no emotional affinity or loyalty to brands that are important to getting their job done. This is a huge opportunity for marketers willing to take a step out of the pack.
Do more actively engaged business contacts deliver better revenue and loyalty to brands that take emotional branding seriously? According to the Gallup study, fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over average customers in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth, while actively disengaged customers represent a 13% discount on the same measures.
“The holy grail for advertising today is the same as it’s always been: to rise above the fray of soulless sales pitches and become part of culture. Not just being recalled or remembered but hitting a nerve and becoming both share-worthy and meaningful,” says William Gelner, executive creative director at 180 LA. “The best brands get that. They aim higher.”
Is this not a worthy goal for B2B marketers? Of course it is. However, the difference is that the emotional triggers you might target in B2B are different than in B2C.
What emotional needs might B2B decision-makers need filled?
- Anxiety that comes with risk
- Fear of looking foolish
- Excitement over a new challenge or assignment
- Pride in gaining accolades
- Revenge against enemies (just kidding…sort of; hey it happens)
Where a B2C marketer may use over-the-top humor to grab attention, this approach may not be appropriate and even backfire in the B2B context. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other emotional strings to pluck. And, in proper hands, even appropriate humor can be effective in B2B. In all cases, B2C or B2B, the emotional trigger and creative approach must align with the context of your brand and target customer.
Here are a couple of examples of more creative B2B campaigns, but there is plenty of room for more:
- FedEx’s Cave Man Shipping (below)
Certainly, B2B decision-makers utilize rational, functional decision-criteria in making their decisions. But marketers who want to stand out from a relatively boring B2B crowd must address emotional needs in meaningful ways to gain brand traction and cement long-term profitable relationships.
The good news is, things are so bland in most B2B markets that just a small step towards creativity, differentiation, emotion and surprise can set your organization light years apart from boring competitors.
Now B2B marketers, doesn’t that feel better that we can have fun now too? Learn which emotional triggers your firm should align with in one of our powerful Assessimize™ marketing strategy workshops.