B2B companies have a history of denial when it comes to accepting how crucial it is to their business’ success. But when they do that, they deny the importance of emotion in human existence. Politicians can lead if they tap into the shared emotions of constituents. Sports teams win if they are adrenalized by their emotions. Fans cheer or jeer on what they feel, not the stats they have. Salespeople sell when they can touch the emotions of their prospective buyer. Soda, cars, clothes, milk, burgers, insurance, computers, technology, investments, houses, watches, dog and cat food. All sold better with the promise that they will make you happy. Emotions drive memory and decision-making. Emotions rule over the brain and the brains of others. As much as your brain will demand you appreciate the exquisite engineering and mechanical value of a $150K Porsche, you still want that car because it makes your heart and ego sing. And so, it is with B2B. If you don’t discover and plug into the power of the emotion that gives your company real, lasting meaning, and align that emotion with that of your customers as you try to make them happy, you’re at a disadvantage.
At the risk of sounding like the Cowardly Lion’s riff on Courage: “How do you get your prospect’s attention? Emotion. How will you get them to remember you? Emotion. How will your message resonate and survive in a world where customers are bombarded daily with thousands of messages and hundreds of obligations, like reviewing KPI’s, being in meetings, managing bosses, being mismanaged by bosses, guiding team members, figuring out what to eat for lunch, and what the hell is streaming tonight? Emotion.”
You have the tiniest window to catch their attention. That’s why emotion is crucial. Essential. Fundamental. Research shows that products or services that promise positive emotions rise to the top of our list, and we tend to de-prioritize items that don’t meet the emotional threshold. So, your email, ad, blog, site, corporate film, or social post that doesn’t immediately hit the emotional bullseye with a prospect will be ignored. Think about that. All that effort and cost, blown for lack of emotional courage to tap into your emotional hook.
Remember, it’s not what you say, it’s how you make them feel. For example, knowing that CFO’s feel detached from their organizations was a key insight for our client Emburse. We discovered they were acutely aware of being perceived as the office that says, “No” to funding for new initiatives, that disallows expense reimbursements that aren’t within guidelines, no matter what the reason. And CFO’s have emotions too. They don’t like being perceived as the Grinch Who Won’t Approve My Travel Expense. They want to be the office that finds solutions, makes employee experiences better, rather than being the place where ideas go to die. So Emburse’s message focused on that emotional need to connect and feel a part of the team.
The message connected. The year the campaign launched, Emburse was the fastest-growing company in their category.
Emotion is Memory
Studies show that when information is associated with emotion in the brain, it’s retained better. There’s a great show called Memory, Explained that aired on Netflix. It’s now on YouTube. They have a way of making very complex ideas very simple, in a relatively short watch (emotions rule attention span too). In interviews with competitive memory stars (Yes, that’s thing!), one woman recounts how she uses emotion (and other devices) to help her memorize ridiculously long series of numbers. The same idea applies to marketing. If your content strikes an emotional chord, your prospect has a higher likelihood of remembering it. So not only does emotion cut through the clutter, it stays with your audience.
To leverage the emotion in your brand, you must know your prospect’s emotional needs., Understanding your audience and how they will respond to compelling language is fundamental to using emotion successfully. It’s the job of B2B companies to be the sherpa on the emotional journey of their prospects. You are painting a picture of how their world will be different once they reach the summit. The more clearly you can help them see that difference, the better they will connect and engage with you.
Emotion, as floppy and squirmy as it is, establishes your relevance and credibility with customers. A shared emotion is the foundation of relationships. As more and more technology is being offered on a subscription basis, the importance of relationships has increased dramatically. B2B must be about people first, business second. This is critical in the early stages of a relationship. How often have you heard someone talk about how their partner makes them laugh, makes them feel more relaxed, or how they feel like they are “seen”? The early stages of a relationship are lusty. Full of emotion. Later, when the brain checks in, you can get married. Courage.
Unfortunately, most B2B companies can’t wait to list out the features and specs of their product and talk about how great it is. Instead, they should be laying the emotional groundwork for a relationship. Instead of “Here are the great things about my product,” the conversation should start with, “Here’s how I can make you feel better in your job.”
The product features then become the support to the larger emotional promise, as much as looking at Porsche’s engineering supports the emotions of owning one.
Wonderful to feel.
Hard to get there.
And fun all the way.
But B2B still can’t seem to fully embrace emotion. Part of the problem is that emotion is hard. Getting to know your prospects, when they have so many options and limited time, requires the ability to get prospects and customers to open up about what they feel and think in a completely empathetic and non-judgmental way. You can’t get hurt if they think your baby is ugly. It’s much easier to write a list of product features and talk about your technology and compare it to others in your category. No wonder the “E word” sends shivers down the spine of B2B companies. It’s easier to deny it and avoid it and pretend it’s not important.
It’s time B2B lower their emotional shields. And if you don’t know how to tap into the power of your company’s authentic emotion and put it to work for you, we promise we will make you happy when you allow us to help.