Emotions Matter — Why Your B2B Marketing Must Connect Before It Can Convert

Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and thought to yourself, “Yes! This just feels right.” If so, then the rest of this article won’t come as any surprise to you; though if you’re like many marketers, your B2B marketing may be overlooking the value and importance of that “it just feels right” moment.

Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and thought to yourself, “Yes! This just feels right.”

If so, then the rest of this article won’t come as any surprise to you; though if you’re like many marketers, your B2B marketing may be overlooking the value and importance of that “it just feels right” moment.

We’re Not All Coolly Rational Consumers

We may like to think that B2B prospects are all like Mr. Spock — coolly rational and unswayed by their emotions, but research and our own experience disproves that at nearly every turn.

Like a Rock, Best-in-Class, or Ram Tough

Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Colin

Lets look for a moment at pickup trucks. There is a large group of buyers who would never consider a Ford pickup truck. And a similarly large group who wouldn’t be caught dead in a truck sporting a Chevrolet or GMC nameplate.

They can’t both be right about the superiority of their chosen brand; which, setting aside functional differences — like towing capacity being more important than torque or vice versa — leaves only the emotional component of the brand.

(My choice of pickups as an example isn’t random. Truck buyers are reputed to be among the most brand-loyal consumers on the planet, though there is some evidence that this is changing.)

Connecting Without Smothering

Back to B2B marketers: For us, the trick is in making an emotional connection without making your case emotionally. We can’t “chew the scenery,” so to speak. We simply don’t have an audience that is as passionate about our services as consumers are about trucks or chocolate or puppies and kittens in need of forever homes … But we do need to make sure we’re connecting with our audience on a level other than “just the facts, ma/am.”

Even with the necessity of a more restrained approach, we do need to create opportunities for our prospects to feel their decision rather than just think it. How do we do this?

Well, there are a lot of tools that can work. Developing personas for your buyers and doing market research into their needs can help you understand motivation and pain points around which emotional connections can be built. Also important are things like testimonials from existing clients and case studies about success stories from people “just like me” who have used your service to profitable effect.

Whose Language Are You Speaking?

Perhaps most importantly, it requires language and presentation that is comfortable to the prospect. Are you speaking their language? Have you met them where they live?

At some point, prospects will want to hear you geek out on the minutiae of your offering — the details and features that make it a better choice. But first, they want to feel the benefits. How does this benefit me? How does this reduce my risk? How is this preferable to doing nothing?

This isn’t an easy goal to achieve consistently, but one worth striving for. Because if you can bring that ever-so-subtle smile to your prospect’s face that says, “Yeah, this is going to work,” you’ve got a winning formula.

10 Tips to Find Your Best B2B Prospects

Lead generation is a major preoccupation of the typical B2B marketing department. Indeed, most B2B marketers report that leads — with an emphasis on quality leads — are their primary goal. So, let’s review the top tools and techniques that are working to find B2B prospects today. And if you have any that I’ve missed, please chime in.

Lead generation is a major preoccupation of the typical B2B marketing department.  Indeed, most B2B marketers report that leads — with an emphasis on quality leads — are their primary goal. So, let’s review the top tools and techniques that are working to find B2B prospects today. And if you have any that I’ve missed, please chime in.

  1. Model your most profitable customers. Use analytics to build a profile of your best customers, and use that model to find lookalikes. Find a data company that also offers modeling services. Your lookalikes can be modeled at the contact level and the company level.
  2. Beef up your LinkedIn skills. LinkedIn is a treasure trove. You can research prospects by all kinds of variables — title, function, skills, groups, industry, company — and reach them with ads, sponsored content or email.
  3. Attract them with killer content. Develop content that helps them do their jobs and solve their business problems, and that they are likely to be searching for online.
  4. Use Google display ads. Google lets you “describe” your ideal prospects with keywords and hunt them down all over the Internet. Use their keyword planning tool to generate likely phrases from your website and those of your competitors.
  5. Ask for referrals. Business people like to share valuable ideas and do favors. So make referral requests a standard part of your marketing communications and your sales scripts.
  6. Partner with a reliable data broker. Preferably one who has experience with your target audiences.  A broker can introduce you to the most productive prospecting data sources and lists.
  7. Add an offer for a piece of irresistible content at your website. Gate it with a web form.  Visitors to your site have demonstrated an interest in your category, so make sure you capture their names and begin developing a relationship.
  8. Keep your prospecting data clean. B2B data degrades especially quickly, so regular updates and attention to hygiene is critical.
  9. Build a target customer profile. The three most predictive B2B variables are:
    1. Industry
    2. Company size
    3. Job title/function
  10. Enrich your customer and prospect records with appended data. More complete and updated records give you fresh insights into customer needs, as well as improved analysis and modeling.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.