There are a lot of purchase decisions that are obviously emotional in nature – picking out a pet from a shelter, purchasing a home, or choosing a venue for your wedding.
Because these decisions are so obviously emotional, many incorrectly think that decisions which are less personal by comparison are not influenced by our emotions at all.
This is an especially common misconception in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, but couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You may be selling to another business, but that company is made up of people. One or more of those people are responsible for making the decision to buy your product or service over your competitor’s.
No matter what numbers and facts are on the line, people still make a huge portion of their decisions based on emotion.
Emotional Marketing Works for B2B
Emotions are why people continue to line up for iPhones despite the availability of superior products at a lower price.
It works exactly the same way in B2B marketing.
Humans are influenced by emotion when making decisions. It’s in our nature.
So here are some tactics you can use to add some emotion to your marketing message.
1. Incorporate Storytelling in Your Messaging
Storytelling is one of the best content strategies for creating an emotional connection with the audience.
Stories are tactile and create a visual picture for your reader. A good story pulls the audience in and makes them a co-creator of your message. They make your content interesting to read and more memorable.
However, storytelling is one of the tactics that most-often gets pigeon-holed as exclusively B2C. But stories can work for any brand, you just need to know and understand your personas.
Are you selling to the business owners or perhaps a marketing manager? What are their pain points? How can you tell a story that shows these pain points disappearing?
Paint a picture for your readers that shows precisely how your brand is the solution.
2. Consider Color Theory
The psychology of color as it applies to marketing is another area to consider when looking to set an emotional tone for content.
While the emotional impact of color is largely based on experience and cultural influences, there are some standards that hold true across the board.
For example, because the sun is universal, yellow is widely associated with warmth and cheerfulness. And because of its tie to nature, green can have more of a natural, calming effect.
There are theories that go more in-depth on the influence of each color, but those are a little more up to interpretation.
The main thing to remember is that color definitely has an impact and should be considered when you are looking to convey a certain emotion with your messaging.
3. Hold Back the Price
This is actually the opposite advice I most-often give for online product marketing, but there are cases it works.
One of the most popular pages on a SaaS website, for example, is pricing.
B2B customers are looking to compare products by the facts: price, features, and capabilities. However, if you make price an option in your top navigation, your audience will jump right to it and bypass your marketing content.
You have forced yourself straight to competing on those facts without giving your audience the opportunity to fall in love with your message first.
If you know you are not close to competitive on price for your space and you’re not looking to be the price leader, hold that information back until later and sell with emotion first.
4. Utilize More Social Proof Throughout Your Website
Social proof is completely emotional.
There is no reason why a potential buyer should trust random stranger X who endorses a product online. They could be the selling company’s best friend, or they could be completely made up.
Yet testimonials and social proof can have a tremendous impact on a buyer’s decision.
We trust the information of the strangers over the company’s own messaging.
Social proof is a way to send a powerful emotional message to your potential buyers, whether in the form of:
- Case studies
- Social media shares.
And make sure to sprinkle this proof throughout your site. Product pages, pricing, and lead forms will all convert better if they have some of this outside support.
5. Focus on Benefits over Features
As mentioned back in the pricing section, there is no getting around the fact that B2B customers seek features for comparison. If they are shopping multiple options, they are going to compare what they can get from each vendor.
However, from an emotional standpoint, you can stand out from the competition by highlighting not only the cold hard facts but also the outcome of those features.
How do your consumers benefit from the features of your product or service?
This is almost a micro form of storytelling. It showcases how your business is going to relieve the buyer’s pain points and help their life get that much better.
For example, if you sell a social media scheduler, you don’t just have an auto-scheduling feature. This feature allows your users work more efficiently and schedule more social posts in less time.
By laying it all out for your prospective buyers, you ensure that they feel the full value that your product or service has to offer.
Don’t Be Afraid of Emotions
Today, more than ever our work and personal life are inextricably intertwined.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that when a person clocks in for the job that they’ve stopped being human.
Likewise, just because they’re surfing the web at night from their couch instead of their desk does not mean they’ve stopped thinking about what projects are wrapping up tomorrow.
Your B2B customers are humans and every single person is influenced by their emotions when making a decision.
Taking these emotions into consideration ahead of time, and factoring them into your marketing content, can be the competitive differentiation you need to deliver the right message at the right time.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!