Iain Lewis

Using emotion to create a competitive differentiator

Learn how to mix up a marketing ‘love potion’ for industrial equipment, software and professional service businesses

 

Is there room for emotion in business decisions? Some would say not. When marketing business tools such as a piece of software or an industrial thingamajig, appealing to a user’s emotions can seem impossible.

 

A tough audience

On the face of it, software, industrial equipment and professional services may seem like very different types of business, but they share a common challenge. They each operate in hugely competitive markets, often selling very similar products and services that appear to have minimal differentiators. Marketing them can be tough.

With software you’re trying to sell something almost intangible. With professional services, you’re going head-to-head with firms that offer the same thing. The B2B world is full of marketers selling commodity items with features and benefits that may seem radically
different to the seller, while for the buyer there appears to be little to tell them apart.

When you factor in your target audience – which could be a hard-nosed buyer, an overworked manager or an indifferent, clock-watching user – finding a clever way to capture their attention seems harder still.

 

The chemistry of trust

If there’s one crucial thing we need to remember in B2B it’s that our target audience is human.

It really doesn’t matter what the product or service is, so long as you can infuse your brand with human elements, a personal approach, and the feeling that you’re connected to an expert. When mixed correctly, these ‘ingredients’ come together to form trust and a love of your brand.

Trust is the foundation for creating a positive emotional connection and establishing a relationship in B2B. A relationship you can really build on. Without it, the door is open to emotions like fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of making the wrong decision. You don’t want to look a fool in front of the board, the boss or the bloke on the shop floor.

 

“Trust is the foundation for creating a positive emotional connection and establishing a relationship in B2B”

 

Emotional extras

What sets you apart? It’s that extra thing you give your customers. The thing that meets their needs, removes their fears, solves their problems and raises their status.

It’s your expertise, relationship, brand personality and their customer experience. Whether a personalised email, account-based marketing, programmatic advertising, PR or an exclusive event, these touch points all create a dialogue with the customer. And as long as you understand your audience – and their need for your product or service – it’s not difficult to engage on an emotional level.

It doesn’t matter if your prospect is looking at a can of gear oil, a piece of design software or choosing a lawyer, if they trust your brand and feel positive about your people, you have an emotional connection. And a competitive differentiator.

 

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