Creating a rational/emotional balance
As B2B marketers, we know that high-level decision making is a blend of rational and emotional pushes and pulls. It’s not just about making people feel good about their decisions – it’s about addressing and supporting the logical and often sensitively balanced factors that affect those decisions.
Of course, we know that emotion contributes greatly to every decision we make, personally and professionally. There’s an argument that emotion is more important in B2B marketing than in B2C because there is more at stake for a B2B buyer and decision maker. Even with this knowledge, many B2B marketers default purely to a rational checklist of practical features, rather than showing how they can address a buyer’s pain point or solve a problem.
For the businesses we work with, a purchase of their product or service could be a significant decision for their customers. It may involve a substantial budget. It may be critical to the ongoing operation of the business. It may be replacing a much-loved legacy product. It may be part of a difficult change programme, and it may have a direct effect on the promotion or pay prospects of the buyer involved in or making the decision, and it needs to be completely justifiable to senior leaders.
With most B2B purchases being a highly–charged decision, there are a multitude of rational and emotional factors in play, and brands are missing a trick if they undervalue the importance of either of those considerations. Your customer needs to absolutely believe in your brand – in what your company offers, what it delivers, how it looks after customers during the whole process, in its expertise and experience, and in its reliability. They need to trust that you will deliver on your promises – and they need to know that you can meet the particular budgetary, performance, delivery or service demands they have.
Crucially, the B2B decision-making process can often be protracted, so brand is critical to supporting customers through that journey – providing information, confidence and proof points at each stage to make a clear emotional and rational connection with the prospect as they evaluate their options. By building positive associations with your brand, you are helping to guide your prospect to choose your business before a sales conversation even takes place.
Be warned though, building genuine brand belief takes time. We know that people need to see your brand across several touchpoints before they become consciously aware of it. Then they might use that familiarity to investigate how you could work with them, and that’s followed by an increasing ‘likeability’ of the brand which grows into a belief that the brand can deliver for them – rationally as well as emotionally.