Why an Emotional Message is Big Business in B-to-B Marketing
Traditional thinking asserts that b-to-b marketing is all about business. It’s thought that the facts, features, and figures must be top-of-mind to boost the bottom line. As a result, trade ads often look more insipid than inspired, but that’s become the industry norm. Of course, organizational purchases demand different considerations and a poor decision can cost a company millions and cost people their jobs. But many forget that there are people behind these professional choices and there’s an emotional element to business as usual. The truth is that b-to-b decision-makers are just as emotionally driven as the average consumer. There’s more and more research upholding this fact and it’s making marketers and branding firms finally see that they must target the heart as much as the head. AdAge.com featured more facts on how focusing on feelings works in b-to-b marketing.
According to a 2007 British analysis of nearly 900 case studies from the IPA Effectiveness Awards, researchers found that emotionally based campaigns outperformed rationally minded campaigns on every single business measure to deliver very substantial business results. In addition, a more recent CEB/Motista survey indicated that emotional connections ran deeper for b-to-b clients than b-to-c customers.
It’s no secret that b-to-b decision-makers pride themselves on appearing well-informed and making rational choices. They like hard facts and solid figures, but behind that firm facade lies their softer side, which instinctually responds to a personal approach.
That’s why UPS has had such success with its “We (Heart) Logistics” global ad campaign. The company offers a huge array of delivery essentials, but its ads shifted the focus from its range of business products to how its services made people feel through every stage of the delivery process. Its commercials are set to the heart-tugging tune of “That’s Amore” and feature drivers in action as they thrill people with important packages. The message is that UPS delivers both business assurance and personal satisfaction, all at the same time.
And it’s not only global companies that are taking a more personal approach to their marketing. Smaller b-to-b businesses are also reaping the results and rewards, as seen with Acme Brick. Almost 20 years ago, this Texas-based company chose to forgo pushing its products in ads and instead expressed to builders and end-users that its work was guaranteed for a hundred years, instead of the three-year industry standard. It also started focusing on image-building activities like charity events and local sponsorships to inspire confidence in its goodwill and good name. By selling personal pride and a sense of security instead of just products and services, Acme Brick continues to earn an annual $200 million in brick sales.
If playing to emotions can distinguish a generic brick and build its brand into a multi-million-dollar company, then you can see the enormous power and potential of emotional messaging in b-to-b marketing. Regardless of the brand or business, marketers must remember that people are still people and their feelings play a part in their every decision, every day.
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