B2B marketing tends to be very practical and functional. The popular belief is that business marketing doesn’t require the same level of creativity and thoughtfulness as consumer marketing. This is simply not true.

As B2B brands have become increasingly commoditized, no brand can stand out based on features and functionality alone.

As B2B brands have become increasingly commoditized, no brand can stand out based on features and functionality alone. In a heavily commoditized environment, the need for emotional engagement increases drastically to ensure preference, consideration and trial. In fact, emotional factors now influence as much as 80% of the buying decision.

Creating an effective emotional trigger with your audience hinges on understanding the specific values that they hold. Regardless of what industry your business operates in, there is no shortage of alternatives for what you do. Nobody needs you; you have to make them want you. Understanding which emotional triggers your audience cares about in addition to rational concerns like getting the job done on-time and on-budget, can give your organization a clear competitive advantage.

Nobody needs you; you have to make them want you.

Our Collective partner, Brand Keys, recently completed a study for a B2B client within the finance industry. Their research revealed the four things that their clients cared about most:

  1. Cost of Service – specifically customer’s desire to feel like smart/savvy businesspersons based on the deal they were able to find or negotiate.
  2. Trust – meaning customer’s felt reassured that they made the correct choice.
  3. Customer Service – meaning clients are treated with prompt, polite service)
  4. Accessibility – meaning the business respects their customer’s time and allow them to interact when it’s convenient for their schedules.

The client in this study didn’t need more awareness-building advertising touting the same dry features that every player in the industry had. Instead, they needed to provide assurance that they were the vendor that excelled at the four things listed above. Mass marketing resources were redirected to create value propositions that delivered against the four areas. Rather than pursue a price advantage, and erode their margin further with unnecessary discounts, they chose to compete in other areas, such as higher-touch customer service and a more user-friendly online experience.

In order to stand out in a saturated B2B environment, it is critical to understand how your customers are actually evaluating the field.

Your features and functionality are table stakes at this point. In order to stand out in a saturated B2B environment, it is critical to understand how your customers are actually evaluating the field. Once you dedicate your marketing efforts towards understanding the things that matter to your customers, you will be able to leverage the advantage created by an emotional connection with your audience. Emotional engagement doesn’t mean more feel good TV commercials or fluffy tag lines; emotional engagement means providing the products, services, and value propositions in a manner that results in true loyalty.

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