Can B2B businesses sell with emotional marketing?
Yeah, this strategy sounds more like something B2C companies do.
Most B2B leads generation plans are based on thorough research and analysis of the buyer’s business.
Despite a common belief that B2B buying decisions are made purely on data, emotions are still important. In fact, they can play a larger role in B2B marketing and sales than one thinks.
After all, companies are made up of people making the decision. If you appeal to the right emotions and experience, they might even feel personally motivated to connect.
Using emotions to sell in the B2B industry, however, can be a bit complex. For one, you need to balance your marketing message to ensure that your company appears professional while ticking all the right boxes from the emotional perspective.
If you’re unsure where to start with B2B emotional marketing, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’re going to give you:
- A quick intro to B2B emotional marketing
- Emotions to appeal in B2B marketing
- 4 pro tips to create emotion-based marketing campaigns.
A Quick Introduction to Emotional Marketing for B2B Marketers
To get you started with emotional storytelling the right way, let’s begin with the basics.
Emotional marketing is a marketing approach that creates a story around a product/solution by creating emotions to make consumers visualize the message.
The most important points from this definition are:
- Story. If you’d like to convey a story coherently, use a story;
- Emotions. Evoke emotions to encourage action or engagement;
- Consumers. Understanding the experience of the target audience helps to create relatable stories.
A great way to approach the creation of an emotion-based B2B marketing campaign is to put the idea into context. In turn, the context must be developed around a consumer’s need or experience to be relatable. Add emotions, and you’ll give your marketing message that much-needed human approach that differentiates it from others.
To summarize, here’s our formula for successful emotion-based marketing in B2B:
- Context -> Customer Experience or Need -> Emotions.
- Okay, there’s one important thing left: who’s going to tell the story?
- Your imagination is the limit, but the safest approach is to go with a customer or a representative of your business (sometimes the combination of both works best).
VW: Emotional Marketing Example
Here’s an example of how VW uses emotions to connect with customers.
In the video below, a young business owner encounters a problem during the delivery of a giant ice sculpture to a wedding: a flat tire.
Source: VW Working with You
Obviously, the sculpture won’t survive if he fails to deliver it in time. The video shows potential consequences: a disappointing couple whose wedding could have been better.
Just as the man becomes really worried, VW road assistance arrives and fixes the tire. The business owner goes on to deliver the sculpture thanks to a speedy service from VW. The message on the screen says: “41-minute average roadside response.” That’s a wrap.
Now, let’s see how the video uses the emotional marketing formula:
Context: a country road, probably early morning
Customer Need: repair the flat tire so the service delivery could be completed. The failure means dissatisfied customers and reputation damage
Emotions: the customer is worried that he won’t be able to deliver the sculpture and imagines the faces of disappointed customers
Character: an owner of a business producing ice sculptures.
Now that we know more about how to use emotions in B2B marketing, let’s see what emotions you can appeal to in your B2B marketing.
Let’s brainstorm, people!
Emotions to Appeal in Emotion-Based Marketing
Okay, so we need to give this one our proper attention because, well, not every emotion resonates on a business level.
Here are the best ideas for you.
Unnecessary Loss of Money/Business
This is the most important one because of the obvious reasons. For example, you can show how your product or service can save money for businesses.
If we were to apply this idea to the above-mentioned VW campaign example, we could mention the costs of producing the ice sculpture and other investments that went into it.
To top it all off, show the most critical loss: the loss of business resulting from unfulfilled responsibility.
Another popular technique is showing how much time could be saved if the customer uses your solution. For example, let’s say that you need to promote your email marketing automation app for small and medium-sized businesses.
Entrepreneurs are aware of the fact that there’s the best time to send email campaigns to maximize opens. For example, you’re supposed to send out emails on Tuesday to get almost 20 percent of them opened. To avoid having someone waiting for the best times, show them that they can schedule emails and do everything in advance.
This saves tons of time, and it’s a great value proposition. Showing it in a video would be pretty easy, too: just imagine an employee scheduling emails and then switching to other important things.
This one is also popular because, well, it works.
“If your campaign clearly shows how a business can benefit from using your product/service, it can attract the attention of decision-makers,” says Tamara Chase, a digital marketing expert at Studicus.
This doesn’t mean bombarding the consumer with a lot of data and potential growth numbers, though. Just let them know how you can help their business grow.
In the case of the promotion of an email marketing app, you can describe that emails can increase sales better than any other marketing channel. Business owners are more likely to perceive it as engaging content.
With that in mind, let’s now move on to “the how” part.
4 Pro Tips to Create Emotion-Based Marketing Campaigns
To increase your B2B sales with emotional marketing, consider using these tips.
1. Be Empathetic
This means understanding the real issues and challenges your target customers struggle with regularly. To create something that people can relate to, you need to know that you’re addressing real topics.
It doesn't have to be something big, but the relevancy is critical.
For example, in this next video from VW, they show a business owner who’s getting ready to get out of the van to go to work.
Instead of that, though, he decides to take a minute and relax. The van has everything to make it happen, including heated seats and the massage function. This can really strike a chord with hard-working entrepreneurs who need some relaxation.
Source: VW Working with You
This example shows how a brand refers to a simple need to relax. It makes the video relatable for entrepreneurs and suggests that the company’s commercial vans are a great option for hard-working business owners.
2. Tell the Story in an Easy to Understand, Friendly Way
You won’t evoke any emotions with a marketing message that sounds professional and formal. Yes, you’ve worked pretty hard to identify a B2B decision maker, but that doesn’t always mean you need to be professional with them. At least with an emotional campaign.
Try to narrate the story — whether it’s a video, an email, or an ad — in a friendly way. Just like the way you’d speak to a friend. Don’t go crazy with business vocabulary, industry jargon, and stuff like that.
If you don’t have in-house copywriters to write your campaigns this way, there are a plethora of online tools like GrabMyEssay, Grammarly, SupremeDisserations, WowGrade, and Hemingway Editor. They are great for improving text readability and clarity as well as writing and editing different marketing materials.
3. Make Your Customer the Main Character
“If people can’t see themselves as a character in the story, they won’t learn or remember it,” says David Zaritsky, the CEO of PulseCX.
This quote summarizes the tip perfectly. As you’ve noticed, both videos from VW feature their target customer: a business owner who relies on a commercial vehicle for growing their company.
To appeal to as many entrepreneurs as possible, VW created a series of vehicles with different characters. The only thing connecting them is that they own a business and need a reliable vehicle to make deliveries.
The next critical variable here is the context.
To make an emotion-based campaign relatable to your customers, “place them” in a situation they’re likely to experience while working. And, like in every good movie, give them a relatable problem to overcome.
Here are some examples:
|Business||Target Customer||Main Character and the Context|
|Lead generation agency||Business owners looking to generate more b2b leads.||A small business owner who’s struggling with getting emails from leads and reaching the right people with cold email outreach.|
|Logistics company||Business owners struggling with tracking the flow of products they send to their international customers.||A CEO who reads the financial summary of the quarter. He or she brainstorms the ways to monitor products throughout journeys to reduce operational costs.|
|A software company that sells live chat solutions||Business owners who need a tool to communicate with all website visitors and improve the speed of customer service.||A business owner whose eCommerce store has a high bounce rate and slow customer support reply times. The reason: a lack of a tool for quick and direct communication with website visitors.|
Have a brainstorming session with your marketing team and think of the ways to create a similar context based on your target customer’s issue. Put yourself in their shoes to try to experience what kind of emotions they go through in that particular situation.
4. Focus on Showing How Your Product Resolves a Specific Problem
To implement this technique in a B2B marketing campaign:
Create a customer persona. Create a detailed persona containing the most common issues that the customer faces
Choose a specific issue. You will base your campaign on explaining how your product or service helps to resolve this issue
Address the issue. Think of the best way in which your solution helps the target customer to resolve the issue
Let the emotions take over. Show real emotions that the customer persona experiences while dealing with the issue
Highlight the advantages of your solution. Describe the most important reasons why the target customer should choose your product.
Now, let’s see how VW uses this technique in the ice sculpture example we referenced above.
Source: VW Working with You
Customer persona: a business owner who makes product deliveries regularly
A specific issue: a flat tire
Address the issue: roadside assistance
Let the emotions take over: the character starts imagining the frustration of his customers; at some point, a tear comes out of his eye
Advantages: the average response time for VW assistance is just 41 minutes.
Emotions in B2B Sales: The Bottom Line
Is emotional marketing applicable in the B2B industry?
This strategy isn’t reserved for consumer businesses. If you create a compelling story your customers can relate to, you’ll introduce your company to them in an amazing way.
Hopefully, this article has given you some good ideas to start creating your first B2B emotional marketing campaign.