Up Your Price Potential by 8X

It’s easy to assume that B2C is more emotional than B2B — as more consumer goods have hedonistic appeal, while B2B products have utilitarian appeal. But that’s not true.

B2B Influencer Marketing
Credit: Pixabay by Thomas Malyska

It’s easy to assume that B2C is more emotional than B2B — as more consumer goods have hedonistic appeal, while B2B products have utilitarian appeal. But that’s not true.

Research by Google and Motista shows that 10 to 40 percent of B2C customers feel emotionally connected to a brand while 50 percent and higher of B2B purchasers feel emotionally connected to the brands with which they do business. And when you create the right emotional reactions, you can increase your chances of getting a premium price by eight times. Strange, but true.

Think about it. When we buy that $30,000 luxury handbag, we are emotionally connected to how we feel having bought a luxury brand item that few people can afford. We feel superior, awesome and like we’ve arrived at a place in society where others have not. Yet, in time, that wears off, and you replace that “uber awesome” handbag with another one which often puts the first one on the back shelf and the back part of your mind.

Yet when you buy that $30,000 CRM system to automate your email campaigns, analyze customer behavior — and are thus able to sort customers according to propensity to buy sooner than later, and thus get higher response and results and sales on a marketing campaign — that feeling lasts a lot longer. It hits much deeper chords in our emotional vessel — security, actualization, and aspirational fulfillment, and a sense of comfort that we will be able to maintain what we have earned vs. lose what matters most: our ability to survive and provide for our families.

The coolness factor of the handbag doesn’t add to our sense of security or help us achieve higher goals, like a job promotion, praise and recognition that lead to job security, potential end-of-year bonuses and so on. These outcomes from a wise business purchase can help us achieve outcomes that last far longer and have much stronger applications for our long-term wellbeing than a trendy luxury item. When you can strike these emotional chords among B2B purchasers and then deliver customer service and products that fulfill the implied promises, you are far better poised to generate sustainable sales and increase existing customer value.

To achieve success in B2B marketing and up your chances of getting a premium price by eight times, think of daisy chains. Big choices that are associated with big outcomes are often made up of decision daisy chains of which the purchaser is not even aware. Back to purchasers of marketing technology or marketing services, such as consulting or agency work. It is not as simple as buying the coolest brand, trendiest design or the lowest price. The choice is complex and influenced by a chain of “what ifs.”

  • What if I buy something that doesn’t work or takes too long to implement?
  • What if I waste my budget and can’t buy what else I need to perform and reach goals?
  • What if the agency doesn’t deliver new ideas that beat past programs?
  • What if I look bad to my bosses?
  • What if I don’t get recognized for doing a good job?
  • What if I lose my job because I didn’t reach my goals?
  • What then will happen to my job security, income, ability to pay my mortgage, car payment and support my kids’ dreams?
  • … and so on.

While you don’t want to craft messaging that creates the fear of the “what ifs” happening, and position your brand as the fear monger or a manipulator, you do want to subtly project your brand’s ability to dismiss all the unconscious and conscious “what ifs” that come to mind during any B2B purchasing process that has substantial implications and outcomes.

You can do this by tapping into psychological drivers and influencers such as:

  • Authority: Who are the authorities who support and align with your category and/or brand? How can you use their allegiance to attract others? Better yet, who are the authorities within your brand and how can you elevate their voices?
  • Social Proof: Share case studies as part of your “thank you” follow up after a sales call. Showcase brands that reflect your prospects’ brands and show results that you can help new clients achieve, as well.
  • Actualization: Tell a story about how your brand helps clients’ achieve the emotional goals they strive for within their jobs. Whether they are purchasers of marketing technology, IT, educational systems or medical devices, there’s always a deeper purpose or “why” behind what they do. In most cases, it is not about the products they buy for their companies, but their ability to influence positive outcomes for the people they serve, like a better education, smarter way to work, or medical devices that deliver an accurate diagnosis the first time.

When you can do even just the above, you take price out of the equation, and put partnership in the process, which lasts a lot longer than the joy of a quick sale for low price, and much much longer than the joy of having a beaded crocodile handbag that will be forgotten in a few months’ time.

Direct Marketing: An Rx for Medication Non-Adherence

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it.

healthcare marketingCiting a review in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, the New York Times recently reported that people do not take their medication as prescribed. “This lack of adherence is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths, and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations, and to cost the American healthcare system between $100 billion and $289 billion a year.”

This news was not surprising to me. I know from professional experience that many prescriptions are never filled (20 to 30 percent according to the article), and that regardless of the condition for which the medication is prescribed, after three months only about 40 to 50 percent of those prescribed long-term medications are still taking them. I also know from controlled testing that direct marketing techniques can improve patient adherence with medications by 20 to 25 percent.

There are many reasons why people don’t take their medication. Forgetfulness is not significant among them. So medication calendars, special pill bottle caps and refrigerator magnets can have only a marginal effect. Refill reminders from pharmacies and Rx brands are not effective, because the most significant reasons for non-adherence are psychological:

  • Medications remind people that they are sick, or have a medical condition; many people would rather ignore or deny that. They see taking medications as a sign of weakness.
  • Medications are viewed by some as chemicals that are bad for the body in contrast to “natural” remedies, like fish oil or vitamins.
  • Medications for silent conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, don’t make people feel any different. So they see no benefit in taking them.
  • Many times people do not understand why they are taking a particular medication or how long they’re supposed to take it. Doctors do not have the time to adequately explain it. The standard physician visit is scheduled for 15 minutes, and according to another Annals of Internal Medicine study cited by Forbes, “even when in the examination room with patients, doctors were spending only 52.9 percent of the time talking to or examining the patients and 37 percent doing paperwork. In other words, shrink that 15 minutes to under eight minutes.”

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming these barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it. The stakes are high, and the stakeholders who stand to benefit most from increased adherence (besides the patients themselves) are insurers, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Each of the stakeholders has their own roadblocks for mounting an effective program, which I’ll explore in a future post.

The 4 Most Powerful Words for Closing Sales

We’ve seen the lists. All those words that grab attention and spark those triggers deep in our psyche that get us to buy sooner than later. You know what I’m talking about: free, limited time, guaranteed, exclusive, discount … the list goes on. But do you know the words that are most likely to close sales that have nothing to do with price?

Retail Sales UpWe’ve seen the lists. All those words that grab attention and spark those triggers deep in our psyche that get us to buy sooner than later. You know what I’m talking about: free, limited time, guaranteed, exclusive, discount … the list goes on. But do you know the words that are most likely to close sales that have nothing to do with price?

In 2000, social psychology researchers, Nicolas Gueguen and Alexandre Pascual, conducted a study to see what words resulted in the greatest compliance for doing a simple task. They asked subjects on a city street to give money to a cause and were only able to get 10 percent of those asked to comply. When they added the phrase, “but you are free to accept or refuse,” nearly 48 percent complied, and in many cases, the amount of the gift donated was greater than before. Subsequently, they found that by using these same words to get people to take a survey, the compliance rate was also substantially higher.

Why do the simple words, “But you are free” have such a strong persuasive impact on compliance? From a psychological perspective, we humans want to always feel in control, and when someone asks for something that is ours — our time, our money — we feel they are asking us to give up control of some of our most valuable necessities. From a marketing perspective, I believe the impact goes even deeper.

A mentor of mine, Charles Graves, a brilliant public relations thought leader, told me years ago to focus marketing initiatives on the notion that consumers want to be told, not sold. And while that does relate to our need to be in control, it also goes to our instinctive need to be involved, informed and valued for our own intelligence and ability to make wise choices.

A researcher for the University of Illinois, Christopher Carpenter, conducted similar studies on the But You are Free Compliance-Gaining technique. His work involved 42 studies and 22,000 participants and also showed that using this approach at least doubled the success rate in various scenarios.

While the implications of the BYAF concept may be more clear for sales, some of the ways this impacts marketing may not be. Think about how much research consumers do before buying just about anything. GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual “Major Purchase Shopper Study” shows that more and more consumers research extensively to compare products, prices and financing options before making major purchases. The most recently study conducted in 2013 indicates that 81 percent of consumers go online before going to stores, and that number is up 20 percent from the previous year. On average, consumers spend 79 days gathering information before making their choices. This particular study focused on shopping patterns for purchases of $500 or more, covering a broad spectrum of categories including appliances, electronics, flooring, home furnishings and bedding, jewelry, power sports products and more.

Even with all this research, we still need validation that we made the right decision. We go on Facebook to see if our friends agree with our choice. We read consumer reviews on Amazon, Yelp and many more websites and so on. Even with all the decision support systems available for any purchase we make, we still need a lot of reinforcement. It’s just human nature.

When we feel we made wise choices, we transfer those good feelings to those who helped us make those decisions and to those who reinforce our choices. This is where BYAF works brilliantly for marketing. When you provide objective information and encourage customers to make their own choices, you become a partner. You’re that trusted advisor who makes them feel good about themselves and just as good about you! In fact, when you make others feel intelligent, wise and accomplished, you can trigger those hormonal releases of oxytocin and dopamine, and when that happens, you create bonds.

Creating Trust in a Digital World

When asked what advertising sources they trust most, 84 percent of consumers say “someone I know,” and 68 percent say “consumer opinions posted online,” according to a recent study by Nielsen.

When asked what advertising sources they trust most, 84 percent of consumers say “someone I know,” and 68 percent say “consumer opinions posted online,” according to a recent study by Nielsen.

While it’s understandable we turn first to trusted friends for advice and product recommendations, it is somewhat revealing that so many of us trust people we’ve never met, and likely never will. Just someone somewhere posting an opinion online.

Trust is an innate part of our psychological wiring, consciously and unconsciously.

Societies have always thrived when people trust each other in love and in business. This trust has often been based upon our unconscious ability to read another’s body language and our own intuitive ability to discern character when in the same physical setting, or so claims recent research done by Northeastern University.

But in a society that is increasingly becoming digitized, with fewer face-to-face interactions, what role does trust play in driving our behavior, purchases and loyalty? Especially when that trust is breached constantly by apps and brands that really sell us down the river when it comes to privacy, as our data is sold to hundreds of unknown third parties?

Social psychologist Mario Mikulincer, professor and dean of the New School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzlyia, has studied the elements of human trust and how different expectations of human interactions form our ability to trust. People who are raised in settings that foster belief in others to do the right thing tend to base trust on three primary components, per Mikiulincer’s research as posted on PsychologyToday.com March 2014. These are:

  • The assumption that if you need help, you can turn to someone you trust.
  • The assumption that if you need support, your trusted friends will be there for you and happy to help.
  • The recognition that support from those close to you will give you comfort and relief.

To engage consumers’ psychological drivers that influence purchase behavior and loyalty, these basic premises of trust need to be present between brands and consumers. Like the people in our world, we expect brands to help us when we need them, support our relationship with them, and make things right when they go wrong. Even in our highly digitized world, consumers still believe they form better relationships with brands and business associates in the real vs. virtual world, per a 2012 study by Dimensional Research. However, with around 200 million consumers researching or shopping online, brands must find a way to build trust at every step of an online shopping experience, not just with friendly salespeople in a brick and mortar store.

Steven Woods, a name many might remember as a founding partner of Eloqua, a software system designed to help marketers understand consumers’ digital body language, has remained steadfast in his vision to bring trust and emotional connections to the digital world. Since selling Eloqua to Oracle, he and partner, Paul Teshima, have started a new business called Nudge, which is a platform designed to help people actually leverage their massive digital networks of connections and engage in trusting ways that have actual benefits. Their tool helps people nudge each other to create dialogue, stay current, make recommendations and professional introductions — all of which help produce meaningful outcomes.

“Without trust, even the best business proposals are set up to fail,” says Woods. “Trust, which is built up over time, allows a buyer to believe that a seller will deliver the change that is promised. Today, that trust is more important than marketing, selling or product capabilities, in most cases.”

Per Woods, without a foundation of trust, our social networks are futile and do little more than make us look popular. Nudge has developed a framework whereby users can build essential trust and have productive relationships with all their social networks, be it Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter. Steps toward digital trust include:

  • Connect
  • Assist
  • Remember
  • Engage
  • Socialize

These are the same steps that helped spark one of the biggest social movements of all time – the civil rights movement, started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. The day she was arrested, civil rights activists got on the phone to connect with her immediate network of friends from church, her sewing club and more. They asked that first tier of friends to assist with a bus boycott by calling their friends and asking them to do the same. Most did, in hopes that the friend for whom they did the favor would remember them when they needed help or support. As a result, an entire network of friends and associates with like values were engaged in a meaningful cause that had significant social outcomes for all involved.

However, without the elements of trust present as outlined by Mikiulincer above, these processes that changed our world in Montgomery, Ala., might not have happened, or at least not so quickly.

As a brand manager, how can you create a framework of trust for your digital networks, and then what kind of marketing activities can you execute to nudge that network into action that drives sales, loyalty and trusted referrals.

1. Be Real: Connecting is much more than a digital link on a social site that lets you access personal information. It is about real time and real purpose. Use your customer connections to communicate meaningful information beyond your products to build trust as a partner that cares about greater outcomes for your customers than their sales value to you.

2. Assist With Life, Not Just Sales: Consumers connect with others to help friends and peers have a better life and trust that their actions will be reciprocated. Same with brands. When you can provide even small improvements to a customer’s life through added values or unexpected customer service, you build trust that can pay off big.

3. Remember: A friend of mine stayed at the same small, boutique ski lodge in Vail for 25 consecutive years. The lodge owner failed to recognize her loyalty and remember her in any way. At breakfast on their last trip, he refused to let my friend substitute a can of soda for her free breakfast coffee — while at the same time, giving away free food and drinks to his “friends” who he did bother to remember. I am now helping my friend find a new ski lodge for her annual trip, worth thousands every ski season.

Remembering is also a key part of Woods’ vision for Nudge. “Remembering what someone liked, disliked and talked about is key to building trust. Most people in our business lives come and go quickly, and often unnoticed. Feeling noticed and remembered creates a new level of trust of its own.”

As trite as articles, presentations and other content on consumer trust have become, it is mission-critical for any business. Without it, you simply can’t successfully trigger the psychological drivers that generate sales and loyalty. Our unconscious minds simply won’t let us engage fully with anything that doesn’t feel or seem right. We need to know we can trust brands as much as we can trust family members. When we unconsciously feel good about a brand because we have learned to consciously trust it, we are much more likely to engage in purchasing behavior and to give trusted recommendations to the 84 percent of our friends who listen to us first and who will, in turn, forward our recommendations to their friends, and so on and so on.