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10 ways to to get emotional in a digital B2B world

Triana Jarman
Last week I attended the brilliantly insightful B2B Marketing Summit and after sitting in on a number of seminar sessions something struck me; While there was a lot of talk about the latest technology (be it marketing automation, new opportunities in social media or emerging publishing formats), what also appeared to be a recurring theme was the increasing importance of getting personal and touching emotions. This may have previously been reserved for the consumer market and not for the B2B sector, but things are changing. As Annabel Rake, CMO of Deloitte, put it in the Summit’s keynote session, B2B is becoming P2P (person to person).
 
It seems that as we become ever more reliant on technology there is also a clear and equal need to become more human in a simple, back-to-basics way. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the increasing demand for vinyl at a time when digital music formats have dominated for so many years? Back in the business world, it’s fair to say that no marketers will dispute the opportunities presented through technology – greater audience insight, more targeted activity, greater measurability, the list goes on. But how do we take advantage of this opportunity and at the same time engage our prospects in a personal way, tap into their emotions and ensure our brands resonate with them more effectively?
 
Here are just 10 ways we can get more emotional in our increasingly digital world:
 
Be authentic
Authentic marketing is about being true to your brand and to your customers. As Forbes put it, authenticity in marketing can be rare in marketing strategies, but it is more effective for a business' longevity and impact. If you want to make a quick profit and move on then there may be other strategies to adopt, but if you want to touch the heart of your prospect, get them to believe in you and trust your brand, then make sure you are honest about your business and reflect your values at all times.
 
Be empathetic
Before you start to build your campaign or create any messaging to take to market, put yourself in your prospects shoes. Not only think about their needs in relation to the product or service you’re offering, but also how time sensitive they may be when reading your advert, which format they more prefer to digest your content in, etc.
 
Benefits over features
No doubt you will have heard this one plenty of times before, but if you want to engage the emotions of the reader then make sure you explain the benefits of your proposition and what this means to them.  A list of features won’t cut it.
 
Engage at different points of the buying cycle
Ensure your content strategy meet buyers at all stages of the buying cycle – that they tap into the key challenges the prospect is likely to be experiencing at each stage, and of course that they offer real practical help which will directly impact the life of your prospect.
 
Be clever with marketing automation
Take the previous point a step further by actually using the technology for work in a more personal way by setting up automation programmes based on actions by the prospect. For instance if they download a particular whitepaper then perhaps they’d be interested in a recent blog post on a similar subject? Or if their action indicated they’re at the education phase then perhaps they will be interested in some more detailed content when they are further along the purchase process?
 
Use of imagery
This may be another example of B2B taking a lead from the consumer world, but changing your text-heavy piece of collateral to something with the occasional image which helps to tell a story will ensure it better resonates with the reader. Just try to steer clear of stock photo overload!
 
Show your credibility
Make sure that case studies and testimonials form a part of your marketing armoury. Credibility is hard to present unless it comes from a source other than yourself. A case study which reflects a similar challenge to that which your prospect is experiencing will tap directly into their professional emotions. A testimonial will foster trust.
 
Apply some account based marketing principles
Account based marketing activity tends to be reserved for larger companies – or at least those firms which are searching for high order values. One thing which even small budget operations may want to consider is using social media to research key prospects and using that information to create a tailored campaign. 
 
Segment your data
Ok, so this one is nothing new, but it follows as a nice reminder from the previous point that you can tailor communications to groups of individuals which presents the feel of something more personal than it actually is. So consider how you may be able to break your audience down by region, industry sector or even type of device being used.
 
Now forget the technology…
What’s the best way to better understand your customers and become more effective at getting emotional with your audience? Perhaps by forgetting the technology all together, getting out from behind your desk and meeting your customers face to face. Ask them about their needs and their challenges – and remember to listen. Do this and you’ll learn more than you can ever imagine. You’ll be in a better place to approach your prospect, understand how they want to be engaged, and appreciate the most appropriate messaging to take to market etc.