The most common misconception we try to remedy for B2B clients is the notion that commercial buyers are very rational – the idea that the customer is in fact a faceless organisation run by rationale teams with well-defined objectives for what they want to buy and who from. Popular thinking goes that everyone wants a thought leader and a supplier with strong credentials and track record. In reality, that’s only half the story.
People don’t buy from organisations. They buy from people within those organisations and while the business case for a purchase decision, including the company’s credentials is important, it’s not the only influencing factor. Any buyer is a human being first and foremost and as humans, however hard we try to be rationale we are fundamentally driven by emotional motivations.
The emotional benefits of course are relative to the person you are selling to.
For example, if you offer your customer help and support throughout a process, this can mean an easier life for a buyer approaching retirement, or it can be one less thing to worry about for someone with team responsibilities and pressures. The messaging for each is different but no less relevant.
Of course it’s not always feasible to run targeted campaigns for each and every audience segment. It depends on the segment size and how important to the decision making process that segment happens to be. It’s common to run a base line campaign that appeals to all segments and then run spikes of activity to get closer to those who are more relevant to the purchase decision. Depending on the size of the purchase, it’s quality not quantity that wins the day.
A job or career could be at stake if a bad purchase decision is made and the more personal the risk, the more emotion buyers feel. Feeling happens at every stage of the awareness journey and across all touch points with the company including marketing, sales, services, finance, operations. The more you understand the customer mindset the more you can deliver the personal values and motivations they are subliminally seeking.
None of this is new in the world of sales. Sales teams do it quite naturally. The biggest mistake B2B companies make in their marketing is the failure to understand that the targeting and emotional selling applies to other touch points in their brand matrix. In the past clients have dismissed social media because ‘our prospects all know who we are’, or ‘we don’t need it, we win work through tenders’. I’ve read paragraphs of endless dry jargon ridden copy ‘because it’s what our CEO customers expect’. There can be an inherent fear that jargon equals capability and anything more straight forward will devalue the brand.
The bottom line is we must understand customers as humans. It’s not B2C or B2B anymore. It’s human to human. We encourage marketers to work closely with sales to build deep and vivid customer profiles. We advise them to run or (we run with them) customer profiling workshops involving sales execs and anyone else with direct customer contact to extract this intelligence. What gender? What life stage? What daily pressures? What daily motivations? What drives them nuts? Big ego or no ego? It’s priceless data and not something you’ll find on their website or by running credit reports.
The reality is hearts buy, minds justify. In that order. That means emotional connection first with the entire business case, credentials etc a very close second. But never one without the other. Marketing and sales should work together to deeply understand buyers, and to craft and deliver messages that hit the spot.
By Karen Woodhead
Brand Director, 12 Miles North
About 12 Miles North
We work with brands of all sizes to find their authentic selves and write their stories. We combine deep customer and product knowledge with strong ideas, powerful creativity and exquisite execution to cut through the most overcrowded of markets. We produce beautiful work that gets fledgling brands on their feet and gives iconic brands back their soul.
For more information about how we might help your brand, please contact us.
Telephone: 01226 767025