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Do B2B communications have to be so serious?

17th January 2024

Why is it, that when it comes to B2B communications, it seems like all the fun stuff goes out the window, and what’s left is often mind-numbingly boring and lacking in any personality or emotional connection?

But just because our subject matter may not be as glamorous as selling fashion or fragrances, it shouldn’t mean that all the life is automatically sucked out. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sure, when you think B2B, you might picture a room full of serious suits discussing return on investment (ROI) and cost per acquisition (CPA). But guess what? Those suits are still humans, and humans have emotions. That’s right, even your stoney-faced CFO has a heart somewhere under that spreadsheet.

Traditionally, marketers have had this idea that emotions only matter in the B2C world. After all, it’s easy to see how a heart-warming commercial can make you reach for your wallet and buy your nan her favourite chocolate, or how the ‘cool couple’ in the advert could influence you to indulge your mid-life crisis and buy that new convertible you can’t afford. But when it comes to B2B, the prevailing sentiment is that we’re all about logic, facts and figures. Emotion? No time for that!

Now just for clarity, we’re not advocating some badly-judged attempt at humour when announcing mass redundancies. The tone should always be appropriate for the audience and subject matter. But what we are saying is, don’t be scared to inject a little personality into your communications, connect on a more human, emotional level and you’ll see an improvement in engagement.

So, let’s dive into why emotions matter, how to appeal to different personalities, and why buying stages can turn even the most rational buyer into an emotional rollercoaster.

B2B buyers have hearts too

It’s true that B2B buyers often have different priorities than your average consumer.

They’re focused on solving business problems, increasing efficiency and often, cutting costs. They’re also less likely to make an impulse buy on the spur of the moment. But they’re still people, and people are swayed by emotions, whether they admit it or not.

Even in the most rational B2B decisions, emotions are lurking in the background, pulling the strings. Maybe it’s the fear of making a costly mistake, the excitement of a potential breakthrough, or the trust you feel towards a particular supplier. Emotions play a part in every decision, whether we like it or not.

Appealing to different personalities

Now, here’s where things get interesting. With B2B audiences one approach most definitely does not fit all. Just like in the B2C world, different personalities are at play, and understanding these personalities can help you craft marketing and PR campaigns that hit the bullseye.

The Analytical Thinker: These people are all about data and logic. They want facts, figures and hard evidence to back up your claims. But guess what? Even they have emotions! Appeal to their desire to make the right decisions by showcasing case studies, whitepapers, and testimonials that demonstrate the rational benefits of your product or service and make them feel comfortable that it’s the right decision to work with you.

The Relationship Builder: These are the characters who value trust and long-term partnerships. Building an emotional connection with them can be a game-changer. Showcasing your company’s values, commitment to quality, and the human faces behind the brand can go a long way in winning them over.

The Innovator: Innovators are driven by curiosity and a thirst for the new. They crave excitement and the promise of something ground-breaking. Tap into their emotions by highlighting the innovation and forward-thinking nature of your product or service and make them feel like they’re on the cutting edge.

The Sceptic: Sceptics are the hardest nut to crack. They question everything and trust nothing. But guess what? Their scepticism often comes from a place of fear – fear of making the wrong decision. Address their fears head-on, provide reassurance, and offer guarantees or trials to ease their anxiety.

The Pragmatist: Pragmatists are all about getting the job done efficiently. They want practical solutions and minimal fuss. Appeal to their emotions by showing how your product or service can save them time, money and prevent headaches.

How buying stages make a difference

Now, let’s talk about the buying stage. As your B2B audience moves through the buyer’s journey, their emotions can fluctuate like a heart rate monitor during a horror movie. Here’s how it breaks down:

Awareness Stage: At the beginning, your audience may not even know they have a problem. Here, you can use emotions to raise awareness and make them realise they need a solution. Appeal to their sense of curiosity or concern about the future.

Consideration Stage: As they dig deeper into possible solutions, emotions like hope, excitement, and anxiety come into play. They’re looking for the best fit, and emotions will guide them toward the right choice. Make them feel like you understand their pain points and can provide the perfect remedy.

Decision Stage: Here, emotions like trust, fear, and even relief can dominate. They’re about to make a commitment, and they want to be sure it’s the right one. Use testimonials, case studies, and guarantees to ease their minds and make them feel confident in their decision.

Of course, that information is fairly useless unless you’ve been through the exercise of defining your buyer stages and are tailoring your communication and channels accordingly.

So, why is it crucial to embrace emotions in B2B PR and communications?

Because it humanises your brand, connects with your audience on a deeper level, and ultimately drives more meaningful engagement and conversions. Remember, even those spreadsheet-loving decision-makers have hearts and feelings, and they appreciate you showing a little personality and emotion.
 
So, go ahead, add a dash of humour, a pinch of empathy, and a sprinkle of excitement to your PR. After all, why should B2C have all the fun? Your B2B audience deserves to be entertained, engaged, and emotionally moved just as much as anyone else!
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About Ben Hollom

I’m a former agency owner, strategist and head of marketing with over 25 years experience, I now work with ambitious agencies and businesses, using my experiences on both sides of the agency – client relationship to support them on their journ...

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