As soon as we step into the workplace, we disconnect from our emotions. Between the hours of 9am and 6pm, we make only rational decisions and aren’t influenced by the marketing tactics and messages that persuade us in our personal lives.
Does that sound right?
So, why is it that B2B targeted sales and marketing still often fail to acknowledge the underlying human elements that influence decision-making?
We’ll answer that question by, first, looking at why it’s essential to bring storytelling and personality into your B2B marketing and communications:
- People make decisions: Ultimately, it is individuals within organisations who make purchasing decisions. These decision-makers are not devoid of emotions or personal biases; they are influenced by their own needs, preferences and aspirations.
- Trust and relationships: B2B transactions often involve long-term partnerships and complex collaborations. Trust is a critical component in establishing and maintaining these relationships. Trust is not solely built on rational factors but also on emotional connections, shared values and personal rapport.
- Differentiation and brand identity: B2B markets are becoming increasingly competitive, with numerous companies offering similar products or services. Rational arguments alone may not effectively differentiate a brand from its competitors. By incorporating emotional elements into the marketing strategy, brands can create a distinct identity and forge deeper connections with their target audience.
- Decision-making biases: Even in B2B contexts, decision-makers are susceptible to various cognitive biases that can sway their judgement. These biases, such as confirmation bias or social proof, are influenced by emotions and subjective perceptions.
- Value and meaning: B2B solutions often offer more than just functional benefits. They can provide value in terms of innovation, social responsibility, sustainability or alignment with a company’s mission. These aspects are not purely rational; they tap into emotional and ideological considerations.
The stats back this up, too. A major study carried out by Google, Gartner and Motista remains the key piece of research here. It shows that B2B buyers are more emotionally connected to the brands they purchase than consumers are.
Of the nine B2B brands in the study, it was revealed that seven of them had emotional connections with more than 50% of their customers – a powerful counter to the ‘B2B illusion’ that value always drives B2B decisions. So how can you build these emotional connections?
As a B2B marketer, it’s important to build your campaigns around storytelling. Stories have the ability to evoke emotions and create memorable experiences for buyers, just as they do for consumers. They can even boost conversion rates by as much as 30%.
So, let’s look at five strategies to incorporate storytelling into your B2B marketing efforts:
- Understand your audience: You can’t think about a narrative before you fully understand the needs, pain points and motivations of your B2B audience. Identify the challenges they face and the goals they strive to achieve. This understanding will help you create stories that resonate with your audience and address their specific concerns.
- Use customer testimonials: Incorporate customer testimonials and success stories into your storytelling. Sharing the experiences and outcomes of satisfied customers helps build trust and credibility. Use quotes, videos or written testimonials to illustrate how your product or service has positively impacted their business.
- Leverage multiple channels: Share your stories across various marketing channels to maximise their reach. Utilise your website, social media platforms, blog, email newsletters and industry publications. Each channel provides an opportunity to engage with different segments of your target audience and share different kinds of stories.
- Align with brand messaging: Ensure that your storytelling aligns with your brand messaging and overall marketing strategy. Consistency is key to establishing a strong brand identity. Your stories should reinforce the key messages and values you want to convey to your B2B audience.
- Focus on the outcome: When crafting your stories, focus on the outcome and the value your product or service delivers. Highlight the impact on business performance, efficiency gains, cost savings or any other measurable benefits. This helps decision-makers visualise the value your solution brings to their organisation.
Effective storytelling in B2B marketing should revolve around real-life experiences, tangible results and the value your brand brings to the table – that way, you’re catering to both the rational and the emotional sides of B2B decision making.
Find out more about how we can help your brand communicate its unique value through storytelling. If you’d like to talk through how we can help, reach out to Craig, our Chief Growth Officer, who has led a number of these projects this year.