B2B Marketing: time to get emotive

This week Marketing Week, “B2B branding: where is the love?“, challenged years of marketing preconception and revealed that “Business to business (B2B) brands fare better with customers through emotive rather than rational marketing messages.”

This bombshell came courtesy of findings from research conducted by CEB (formerly Corporate Executive Board) in partnership with Google.  The survey, conducted across 3,000 B2B buyers from 36 brands and interviews with 50 B2B marketing organisations, showed that customers favour brands that demonstrate personal value through emotional appeals.

B2B customers are more than twice as likely to consider a brand that shows personal value over business value, because buyers perceive little difference in the business value that the different suppliers can offer.”

Traditionally emotive marketing messages have been reserved for the Business to Consumer (B2C) market.

An example of an emotive B2C advert is the Coleman’s “Shepherds Pie” advert which features a dad making a shepherd’s pie (using a Coleman’s dry packet sauce) to comfort his heartbroken daughter. Brand owners, Unilever, say the new advert demonstrates the way we use food to express ourselves, whether it’s to reward, sympathise, support or comfort.

At first glance I was surprised by the survey findings but then after a few minutes reflection I realised it was fairly obvious. The recipient at the end of the B2B marketing message is still a person. Whilst there may be more at stake or other influencing factors coming into play, fundamentally that person will have the same needs and desires as an individual consumer (remember Maslows Hierachy of Needs?).

These research findings provide some useful insight into how to approach a B2B marketing campaign but the best and most successful marketing will always be that which is targeted and tailored appropriately to the recipient.