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Motivational marketing: Same old, same old or or B2B marketing 2.0?

Is motivational marketing (MM) truly transformative, or is it simply old wine in new bottles? In this blog, we examine how MM can help you tackle some of marketing’s thorniest problems (creating a motivation-based marketing plan, balancing 60/40 efficiencies, maximising your martech and tech stack) and even help you market yourself, CMO! Do you need MM to accomplish all these tasks? No, surely not. But, why not? Why not employ all the help you can get?

This is the third of a three-blog series of MM.

Blog one

details the principles of MM and its affiliation with self-determination theory.

Blog two

outlines how MM can help identify why brands are successful and presents new research into what is true customer intimacy.

In this blog we will explore MM’s applications to other fundamental and thorny marketing challenges. So, how can MM help you solve a number of your most vexing marketing problems and go on to new heights? Here are four ways:

Note: Our ongoing and parallel task is to develop a case study specific to B2B: to demonstrate MM’s applicability in this sphere and how it is similar to, and different from, B2C applications. This work is in progress.

1. Creating an overall marketing plan: Managing motivation, anticipating needs and integrating your offering all at once

Whether working alone or in cross-discipline team collaborations, as a marketer you are responsible for everything from product (re-)designs and social media messages, to events, activations and online communities. These activities are often one-offs, created in silos to put out fires or fill sales gaps with, let’s face it, less than ideal results for the resources and spend they take to create.

However, what if all your developments and programmes – every single brand touchpoint – were sourced from and aligned with your motivation stack? What if everything you initiated emanated from intimacy with your customers, facilitating their core needs for achievement and fulfillment, satisfaction and connections, competence and control? 

We have only to recall

HighKit’s shining example

of what it means to put motivations and desires at the centre of your brand, driving all you do to develop and support this. HighKit brought their intimacy with cyclists into the brand’s total offering, seamlessly interweaving this into product design, community support, communications campaigns, etc; all with HighKit’s deep understanding of the intense emotions cyclists crave at their core.

So, what would MM mean for you? How might MM work for you in your marketing planning? Imagine this scenario:
  • Customer intimacy should serve to organise and unite your entire organisation. It should drive what you keep, remove or change about your brand, marketing and communications. It should help you focus better on your teams, both internal and external, and empower them with purposeful direction and true customer insight. It should help you get out in front with communications campaigns (

    think back to HighKit

    ) that demonstrate how you’ve been anticipating your customers’ needs already for some time.
  • Facilitating their achievement and self-fulfilment, admittedly a tricky dimension, speaks to how you inspire customers and keep them focused and excited. This covers everything from push emails to providing forums to share successes among peers –

    recall HighKit’s motivating emails and the Strava reporting app

  • The empathy you demonstrate towards your customers’ professional and consumers’ personal satisfaction, whether individually or collectively, speaks to how you orchestrate everything from your brand personality, advertising, events and communications to community groups,

    such as HighKit’s much-appreciated community app

  • Discussions of performance and competency will have direct implications, such as on design and content (both current and future) of your products and services.

    HighKit’s jersey designs that promote their cyclists’ competence is a mini-case study on point

Same old, same old? Or something new? 

There is, of course, nothing new about creating an annual marketing plan. What is new, however, is the nature of the drivers that MM offers: intimacy and insights into your customers’ motivations as the unifying, coordinating principle of your marketing plan. How powerful, how different is this from the focus of most marketing plans? What other drivers allow you to manage motivations, anticipate needs and integrate your offering all at once? If MM isn’t mission critical, it is arguably a route to something more dynamic, engaging and compelling for your loyalists, and loyalists to be.

2. Balancing efficiency in 60/40


Effectiveness in Context

, Les Binet and Peter Field recommend a 60/40 balance (50/50 for B2B) of long-term brand building and short-term sales activation. The aim of this is to achieve maximum growth and loyalty.

As Field states

: “the trick is to find a powerful, emotional insight that is relevant in the category and execute it in an unexpected way.” With your motivation stack at the centre of all you do, defining the 60/40, or 50/50, balance of brand and activation campaigns may potentially be more ground-breaking, business-building and differentiating!

  • The new goal:

    To employ your motivation stack as the unique model for fully integrated brand and activation campaigns. Take your motivation stack forward into long-term brand campaigns that are grounded in customer intimacy (in other words, your ‘why’). Take your stack into short-term activation campaigns that engage customer needs for achievement, satisfaction and competence. Together, this deployment simultaneously empowers customers’ self-motivation and self-determination. 

  • The new normal:

    All developments, programs (brand, social media messages, events, and activations) and every single brand touchpoint is sourced from and aligned with your motivation stack. See it as a musical scale that you play up and down in continuous harmony. 

  • The new media reality:

    Instead of a stand-off between short vs. long-term media, play to their individual strengths and make them more seamless. Use digital media that’s well suited to activation campaigns to trigger intrinsic motivations. Use traditional media, TV, radio and print, to create long-term memories. With the motivation stack as the common thread throughout, think of your media as one campaign, one unified experience, one face to your consumers and customers. Each element amplifies aspects of your brand in harmony and synergy with the others. 
However you choose to balance your 60/40, or 50/50, or even if you don’t, we believe MM brings specific benefits to this task.

As the one template for your brand and activation campaigns, unifying long-term and short-term activities, your motivation stack will act as a strategic roadmap for all marketing and communications. It will integrate, amplify and reinforce messages and bridge media. It will fix common problems of data-driven campaigns alone, wherein brand development is often lacking and wherein digital commerce marketing is often data-rich but insight and action poor: questions of ‘who’ and ‘why’ are missing vs. ‘when’ and ‘what’ customers buy. This leaves ‘how’ and ‘where’ you prioritise campaigns unanswered.

Motivations will drive messaging

Your motivation stack will also ensure that your customers’ motivations (bespoke, unifying principles for your brand) will drive brand messaging and development as well as the types of activations you employ and the select media platforms you choose to prompt their behavior. 

Creative campaigns will be unique to your brand, your customers

Your creative campaigns will always be unique to your brand and marketing all while stemming from customers’ needs vis-à-vis your brand. Herein lies the beauty. There are no straightforward answers. No standard, off-the-shelf fixes. Brand and activation campaigns can and should surprise and delight your current and potential customers as you respond to their motivations. You can be an empathetic brand with offerings that suit, or even anticipate, customer needs for professional and personal competence, satisfaction and achievement.

Operational insights will help refine motivations, drive business and growth

Once enacted, interactions with both brand and activations will provide operational insights to refine your understanding of customer motivations. You should be looking at what drives in-market mentalities, shortens conversions and allows you to see what activities best trigger these. ROI should tie directly into the best trigger-combinations for creating conversions (

Binet and Field offer a number of brand examples such that exemplify effective marketing that leads to business growth

). In an ideal future, they will be able to include all activity, brand and activation in a fully integrated way that drives even larger growth. 

3. Maximising martech and the tech stack

The adoption of martech has become an essential aspect of marketing. That being said, according to the survey,

Four Keys to Getting More from Your Martech

(January, 2019), marketers are unhappy with the business outcomes and ROI of their martech investments: 40% of marketers declare they are “not happy” with their martech and 75% think they are only utilising 60% of their martech potential.

The survey cites multiple reasons for martech’s under-utilisation and lack of full exploitation such as: 

  • The complexity and (in)compatibility of martech offerings. There are reportedly over 7,000 suppliers, with 91 being the average number of tech stack suppliers per large client.
  • A lack of strategic readiness among marketers and their teams to make the most of their martech.
  • The focus on technology rather than the human element – people, customers and consumers. 

The result is a great deal of confusion: do we have the right data? Are we tracking the right customers? How should we maximise the content we have? As the study concludes: “marketing must prioritise the human aspect to drive long-term outcomes. To achieve the full potential of what technology can enable, it has to be based on the reality of what customers want and what users can do with it. Marketing must become ‘disruptively human’ and understand the full range of rational and emotional variables as the customer sees and describes them.” 

Our experience: Marketing (human side) and martech (data side) rarely interact and obvious connections go unforged

It was a pause-inducing moment when we asked practitioners if they ever do consumer or customer research to augment their technology, that we were told, “No, we have not experienced this sequencing.” Added another: “After 20 years of this tech going on, nobody has a blank piece of paper, although the reality is people jump to solutions without thinking what it is they want out of it.” 

In spite of the fact that MM and the motivation stack are entirely geared to uncover “the reality of what customers want”; in spite of the fact that we speak exactly the same language of customer journeys, insights, reason and emotion, personalization, content and experience; in spite of the fact that we aim to uncover the same intimacy and create the same marketing and communications results, obvious connections have not been forged. 

The opportunity for innovation to emerge from the intersection of established fields has sadly, until now, gone missing.

Let’s resolve to take the mystery out of martech and put humanity back in! 

Recall again key learnings from the HighKit case: MM allows you to honor the passions, the lifestyles, the deeply-felt needs of your consumers by putting their motivations, their very humanity, at the center of your brand. MM makes it possible for every marketer to identify and define customer motivations in their categories. AND, to begin to manage these, with surety and confidence, leaving guess-work behind. 

Our recommendations

We have previously argued that branding and martech should become BFFs

. To expand further, our full recommendation is that MM and your motivation stack should precede, keep pace with and help direct the creation and evolution of your martech stack. Surprised? These are the steps we strongly suggest: 

  • Conduct MM prior to building a martech stack and continue to apply learnings throughout the process as you attempt to erect a stack that gets you closer and closer to your customer’s wants and needs. Use results from MM and your motivation stack as a template to better design, refine and create personalized content for your systems. As customers declare they want richer experiences and more personalization, for example, MM and the motivation stack are the perfect, ready source.
  • Use the data you collect to loop back and advance your qualitative and quantitative understanding of your customers – use it as a means to provide depth of insights, enhance journeys and confirm hypotheses. 
  • Create the customer-centric scenario that is possible for your brand with both your “stacks” – motivation and martech – working in parallel, in tandem, as mirror images or straw men, together in dialogue and in counterpoint with each other.
  • Finally, stop relying on tech alone for a human experience! As the buying experience becomes ever more customer-led, be open to the differentiating and business-building power of MM that puts the human element within your immediate grasp. 

Do you absolutely need MM to build your martech stack? Surely not. But why not? Creating and curating robust martech remains a huge challenge, so why not employ all the help you can get? Has moving forward on this ever been clearer?

4. Marketing yourself, CMO

B2B Marketing recently published a survey on the evolving role of the CMO

. The survey confirms the essentialness for CMOs to be, among a growing list of other things, customer-centric. Given the fact that this is a common challenge that all CMOs face regardless of category or market, we are confident in saying that the discipline of MM is guaranteed to help the CMO meet and overcome these identified, professional challenges. MM will:

  • Help you get the c-suite’s attention.
  • Promote cross-functionality and integration vs. silos.
  • Provide a solid CRM platform and the martech stack that builds on it.
  • Provide ever more personalised connections.
  • Help you and your marketing team make these big, seismic shifts:


The reality: daily, manifold obstacles that get in the way of marketers being fully customer-centric

Let’s face it, the marketer’s role, and the responsibility of the CMO, have never been more in flux or under pressure. The marketing role has been morphing fast for well over a decade, with an emphasis on analytics, ecommerce, marketing logistics, technology strategy and adaptation. New roles have emerged in the c-suite –growth, digital, experience and customer officers – which prevent the CMO from acting as the single voice of the customer and conductor of brand experience. As CMOs continue to have the shortest tenure of those in the c-suite, there is little incentive for them to consider anything beyond immediate successes. 

On top of this, traditional partners are struggling to contribute. Agency partners are admittedly staffed with younger, less experienced people,

as if those 40+ can’t understand social media

. Activation agencies struggle to achieve more than tactical reputations. Research houses, trying to find their real role, have even taken to offering ad campaigns.  

All things being equal, do you even have the tools and resources to become customer-centric?

In the midst of this confusion, ask yourself, CMO, do you do daily battle without two of the most fundamental, profound and important arrows in your quiver: true customer intimacy and a grasp of your audiences’ intrinsic motivations? 

Without both, however, it is impossible to comprehend what drives customers to your brand or to develop their natural inclinations towards it.  Perhaps data, traditional research or even neuroscience can provide you this information? If so then you’re home free. But if not, or if not with the rigor, certitude and robustness you’d like, could you use some support and assistance? Could you use a serious dose of MM in your professional life?

In both this blog and the previous two, we have presented MM as a science-based solution available immediately at hand during a myriad of marketing urgencies. But this is where it gets personal. From the outset we have said it’s your call what MM is: is it new magic spun from traditional, classical marketing? Something that helps you both personally and professionally on a daily basis? Or is MM simply old wine in new bottles? Hardly a re-charged, advanced approach to marketing and certainly no B2B Marketing 2.0.

To put these questions in some final perspective, let’s step back for a few reflections and cast our sites forward to horizons not yet realized.

Final reflections and conclusions

MM begins innocently enough: a conversation where you get to know your customers, your consumers as people and what makes them tick. In the

HighKit case

, we first explored why cycling is so important to customers: how does cycling fulfill, challenge and delight them as individuals?

From this point we proceeded to ask how and why HighKit is customers’ go-to brand. The answer quickly became abundantly clear: it hits every motivational high note. Notably, in its evocative, insight-driven imagery, HighKit seems to reach into and stir their very souls as it beckons them to get up and ride their bikes. For any brand so confidently, and yet so elegantly, attuned to their consumers’ humanity, it is as if further implications, the next campaigns, creations and applications are close to hand, merely awaiting discovery. 

A natural arc from insights to pure business development

We are well aware there is much planning and hard work to be done. But there is a natural arc, a consequent flow from insights and motivations to all things large and small about your business: product and service design, brand development, team spirit, social media messages, events, and communities. The trajectory continues towards a perfectly balanced and integrated 60/40 mix and finally to a more humanized martech stack. 

Ask yourself, what aspect of your business wouldn’t be enhanced by engaging with and delivering on your customers’ intrinsic motivations? What could possibly be off-limits?

Having delved deep into the insights, you should emerge with your customer’s truth. From this point, you can build upwards and outwards. As one of our cyclist interlocutors reminded us, “the only limits are your imagination. And if you exceed your limits, the results will be seared in your mind.”

So, we ask you, marketer, to use your imagination. Go beyond your limits and scroll forward to a new horizon waiting for you. 

Imagine, marketer, that you have enabled your consumers and customers to make their own choices about your brand offering. It’s not about herding them or driving them as much as encouraging them by knowing what they want before even they do. They easily access you across channels most convenient to them, whenever they want to, or need to refer to you. They have a personal relationship with you, almost as if with a friend, as they feel you genuinely understand them, talk immediately to them and care about them. 

Pipe dream or possibility? 

All this is genuinely possible, but it will not just happen on its own. It will depend on what we believe is the new discipline of MM, and it will bring with it these five permanent changes, which we borrow and adapt from Momentum:

  1. It won’t be called marketing, but rather motivational marketing, marketing 2.0. or even just MM – a transformed, empowered and empowering form of marketing.
  2. It will be customer, buyer and brand-focused, not tech, sales or product-focused. It will be human to the core.
  3. It will blend automation, data and human insight. The motivation stack will drive the tech stack and the two stacks shall advance together.
  4. It will be holistic, multi-channel and multi-tactic, long and short-term, united start to finish by MM and the motivation stack.
  5. It will be deeply personalised, real-time and relatable, as MM offers you a level of customer intimacy that you’ve not previously experienced. Your consumers’ very humanity has just become your profession’s new ‘roots and wings.’

It’s still your call, but I know where I’m standing. 

We end on a note that applies to all marketing, whether it be B2B or B2C from Steve Jobs: “get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.” Although we are aware his preferred route to achieve this so-called clairvoyance was famously not through qualitative research, we fully believe he would approve of our outcomes.

Read Sue’s first blog


and her second one



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