Customers have feelings
During a recent conversation with a fellow marketer, we were discussing interesting B2C programs and the importance of appealing to emotions. Working at a B2B organization, they expressed frustration at the lack of sophistication in B2B marketing compared to the B2C world.
Having a foot in both B2C and B2B worlds I could understand his position. It isn’t a simple situation. There are many B2B organizations who succeed in understanding their buyers’ emotional triggers. And there are also B2C brands who approach their customers from a purely rational perspective.
Whether B2C or B2B, companies with strong beliefs in their own rationality will tend to create marketing programs that don’t take the full purchase decision-making process into consideration. Emotional investment is presumed absent.
Below are some beliefs in rationality I’ve encountered, presented with a different perspective.
The more something costs, the more ‘thinking’ we put into it.
If that were true, homes (and cars) would all look the same and lack features beyond doors and windows. For even the most expensive expenditure an individual will make, the words “I love it” are often the deciding factor.
When purchasing something for a company, we are emotionally detached.
This one rings very true. However, the issue with it is that purchases within an organization are often associated with the buyer. There is still a social context. Credit is given for purchases with good outcomes, and blame dished out for poor outcomes. From assembly robots to kitchen towels, “what will others think of me?” may play an important—unseen—role in otherwise “rational” purchase decisions.
Buyers are only interested in numbers and they don’t need pretty pictures.
Indeed buyers should be very interested in price, cost savings, performance criteria, waste reduction, maintenance and more. It is even possible to argue that the buyer doesn’t need stunning images and creative design. But the brand certainly does. Because images and design work on a subconscious level to help establish credibility and professionalism. They visually demonstrate to buyers how you view your own product, and the value they themselves should place in your product. Compelling graphics can also generate excitement, which can be advantage in a competitive bidding process.
I’m sure there are many more beliefs, as well as different approaches to addressing each. The point is, emotion is always present in purchase decisions. It may play a big or a small role, but it is there and it is something that a brand can use to differentiate and promote itself.