“Strong B2B branding drives customers’ willingness to consider, purchase, and pay a premium for a supplier.”
The quote above comes from the CEB Marketing Leadership Council (in partnership with Google) in their white paper “From Promotion to Emotion: Connecting B2B Customers to Brands.” They found that, “Customers who believe a brand will provide business value are 4x more likely to consider that brand.”
The trouble is that many brands are now demonstrating business value and prospects are having trouble differentiating between them. In fact, in the seven industries measured by the study, professional services was among the least differentiated – falling near the bottom along with printing, shipping and industrial supplies.
Additionally, business value isn’t emotional and as we saw our last article, emotion drives buying. The CEB white paper says: “Although B2B buying is often treated as a rational activity, all human decisions are driven by a complex mix of gut, emotions, post-rationalization, and reason.”
CEB found that personal value was twice as strong a driver as business value for B2B decision making.
Business value focuses on the buyer’s reason and emphasizes functional benefits and business outcomes. Personal value is a much more emotional area and looks at how this brand can help the individual on a professional level, socially and emotionally.
A key reason that emotional, personal factors drive B2B buying is that buyers feel a very high level of personal risk. The white paper lists the following emotional risk factors that buyers experience:
• Losing time and effort if a purchase decision goes poorly,
• Losing credibility if they make a recommendation for an unsuccessful purchase, and
• Losing the job if they are responsible for a failed purchase.
“… the more personal risks a purchase entails, the more emotional buyers feel—and the more they attach to brands that can provide value and eliminate risk.”
Also they found that B2B brands are much better at demonstrating personal value (as well as business value) to existing clients/customers than they are to prospects. At Ingenuity, we’ve seen this time and time again in professional services. Once you get a client, they’re loyal and they love you, but your firm has the hardest time telling prospects why they would love you.
To fix this, make sure you have emotional messages at every stage in the buying cycle. CEB states, “ … marketers should use emotional, personal value messages throughout, not just at the start and end. To do so, marketers should exploit video and social media channels. Our research found that customers who engaged this way were up to 20% more likely to purchase at any given purchase stage.”
In our next article we’ll go into more detail about how to leverage emotion at every stage of the buying cycle.