B2B Marketing Ignite 2018: this time with feeling

As B2B marketers, we need to get better at understanding how we make business buyers feel.

That was the message coming across loud and clear at the Business Design Centre in North London last week, when a bevy of B2B marketers gathered for B2B Ignite.

As the ever-perceptive Rory Sutherland mused during his opening keynote, even in business environments, people simply aren’t rational animals – business decisions aren’t made to maximise utility, or with absolute trust in a brand, or even with full knowledge of all options available. Instead, supposedly rational decisions are swayed by what the people making them stand to lose or gain personally.

What do buyers really care about?

If you want to understand what people really care about, Rory pointed us in the direction of David Rock’s SCARF model – an extremely useful list of considerations for every B2B marketer who wants to think differently about their buyers:

  • Status – what’s the chance of your offer increasing or reducing their social standing?
  • Certainty – people hate doubt because ambiguity generates feelings of danger. You know the adage: ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’.
  • Autonomy – take note: stress levels increase when people feel they have limited choice or control.
  • Relatedness – new people and brands can create a sense of threat.
  • Fairness – seemingly unfair exchanges create anger.

Whilst B2C decisions are about avoiding regret, B2B decisions are arguably all about avoiding blame. As Rory stated, difficulty in B2B marketing isn’t due to complex decision-making but because of “your pain-in-the-arse, non-marketing colleagues.”

“Make something feel right, and the rest follows.”

Brian McCreadie at Berwin Cave Leighton Paisner also made a compelling case for doing more with feeling.

Citing a recent IPA study that showed emotional campaigns are more effective on almost all business metrics, especially long-term, Brian’s advice was to be top of mind in your category: “Either be the market leader, or the brand with the most buzz.” Being remembered can be achieved either by doing something dramatic, or simply through repetition; “Eat, sleep, simple message, repeat.”

Being memorable is important because it creates familiarity, which in turn creates trust. It also makes financial sense – according to Ebiquity; “a 10% increase in share of voice drives a 5-20% reduction in price sensitivity.”

Before Brian left the stage, he proffered my favourite quote of the day: “Brands are like a pension scheme: if you leave it too long to invest, you’re screwing yourself.”

The fallacy of marketing goes beyond the rational buyer

Seasoned marketing consultant Heidi Taylor was a vocal advocate for more strategic and long-term approaches to marketing.

Kicking the fallacy that marketing has changed more in the last five years than the last 50 firmly into touch, Heidi gave us a welcome reminder that the fundamentals of marketing remain the same, in particular a solid focus on understanding and engaging customers.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the martech hype and the short-term focus on lead gen, lead gen and more lead gen. But marketing has a higher purpose, and that is to create an environment for the company to do better business – which requires a long-term focus on brand, customers and doing B2B marketing with feeling.

And that’s well worth remembering.