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B2B Marketing — Science, Art and Emotions

Those three ele­ments of mar­ket­ing present an intrigu­ing chal­lenge in being able to co-exist. It’s all bound up in a right brain, left-brain strug­gle for supremacy. The left-brain is all about the sci­ence of sta­tis­tics and data-driven, pro­gram­matic deci­sion mak­ing while the right brain favors cre­ativ­ity and emo­tional engagement.
I am a B2B mar­keter and I firmly believe in com­bin­ing sci­ence and art to cre­ate emo­tion in B2B mar­ket­ing. Why? Because, with emo­tion in your mar­ket­ing strat­egy, you can achieve true excel­lence in your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. Mar­ket­ing has over­cor­rected from a cre­ative, right brain dri­ven indus­try to being a left-brain ven­ture with the advent of big data and mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy. That shift is cap­siz­ing the rev­enue boat. Mar­ket­ing is about peo­ple and peo­ple are about emo­tions and being talked to in per­sonal relationships.

B2C and B2B Relationships
We can learn a lot from our B2C coun­ter­parts about the shift of power and influ­ence to the buyer as it dri­ves a new par­a­digm in B2B mar­ket­ing tac­tics. B2C is an emo­tion­ally dri­ven mar­ket­ing approach first and a sci­ence and tech effort sec­ond. Get­ting an indi­vid­ual to part with their money in a split sec­ond, based on brand/product per­cep­tion, in a super­mar­ket aisle is a supreme art. And sim­i­lar skills are becom­ing needed in B2B mar­ket­ing. Stud­ies have shown that the B2B buyer is already 57% of the way through the tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing fun­nel before they ever con­tact a company’s sales team. The pre­vail­ing atti­tude among the buy­ers is that every com­pany with a mar­ket­ing cloud solu­tion for exam­ple, is the same when dis­count­ing the emo­tional fac­tors that link a buyer to a seller. One of my Adobe coun­ter­parts, Gina Casagrande, devel­oped an inter­est­ing two part series on the rela­tion­ship of B2B and B2C mar­ket­ing: The Key Dif­fer­ences Between B2B & B2C Mar­ket­ing, Part I and The Key Dif­fer­ences Between B2B & B2C Mar­ket­ing Part 2.
So, how do we keep the boat from cap­siz­ing? In a blog post I pub­lished just this past Jan­u­ary, I talked about the mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy land­scape and the over­whelm­ing pres­sure it’s putting on the CMO com­mu­nity to become tech savvy and fully famil­iar with (i.e. a user of) many of these tech­nolo­gies. How­ever, the les­son to be learned from our B2C friends is that tech is just a tool and not the means to an end. Tech sup­ports and allows us to test and val­i­date mar­ket­ing approaches but we can’t let it drive the key objec­tives, which are pri­mar­ily based on the needed rela­tion­ships, emo­tional con­nec­tions and per­son­alised mes­sag­ing and offers that will make our cus­tomer a loyal, trust­wor­thy, and val­ued advo­cate of our brand. We have to under­stand that objec­tive data and result­ing analysis/insights are not per­fect. The proper per­spec­tive for these mar­ket­ing tech tools is they act in sup­port of mar­ket­ing deci­sions and do not drive them directly.

Suc­cess­ful B2B mar­keters will be those who are ana­lyt­i­cal and data-driven, yet under­stand brands, sto­ry­telling, and expe­ri­en­tial mar­ket­ing. Mar­ket­ing lead­ers must engage both right and left-brain dis­ci­plines and bal­ance the art and sci­ence of marketing.

Guide­lines to B2B Mar­ket­ing Success
Adobe has teamed up with Econ­sul­tancy on sev­eral high pro­file stud­ies on mar­ket per­son­al­i­sa­tion strate­gies. The quar­terly dig­i­tal intel­li­gence brief­ing, “Dig­i­tal Trends for 2015”, is one of them and pro­vides the sta­tis­ti­cal foun­da­tion for why per­son­al­i­sa­tion, which is the means by which you can put emo­tional strate­gies back in your B2B mar­ket­ing plan, is the impor­tant trend for 2015 and beyond. My col­league, Simon Mor­ris’, most recent blog post discussed some impor­tant points from the Dig­i­tal Trends for 2015 study.

Read­ing the Dig­i­tal Trends study it’s clear that B2B mar­ket­ing has many excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for 2015. And per­son­al­i­sa­tion has indeed become top-of-mind for com­pa­nies aim­ing to improve the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. The more enlight­ened busi­nesses are now think­ing of per­son­al­i­sa­tion across the whole cus­tomer jour­ney rather than in a par­tic­u­lar mar­ket­ing silo. (Another inter­est­ing topic for a future post is how mar­ket­ing is mov­ing beyond mar­ket­ing into areas tra­di­tion­ally asso­ci­ated with cus­tomer ser­vice, account man­age­ment and support.)

Dif­fer­en­ti­ate your Brand through Per­son­al­i­sa­tion in the Mar­ket­place as a Key to Suc­cess 
The fact is that per­son­al­i­sa­tion sets com­pa­nies apart and cre­ates dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion from their com­peti­tors by cut­ting through the clut­ter of infor­ma­tion out there. In my case, it trans­forms the cus­tomer sen­ti­ment that all mar­ket­ing cloud solu­tion providers are the same to the sen­ti­ment that Adobe is dif­fer­ent. They know who I am and they lis­ten. I said this ear­lier and it bears some rep­e­ti­tion, the cus­tomer has always been in charge, brands have just been slow to accept that. There is a shift hap­pen­ing from brand expe­ri­ence to cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and per­son­al­i­sa­tion will be the dri­ving force of this.

Omni Cross Chan­nel Cam­paign Management
As mobile is gain­ing scale, it becomes more impor­tant to offer the mul­ti­chan­nel cus­tomer an omni cross chan­nel expe­ri­ence through per­son­al­i­sa­tion and tar­get­ing on dif­fer­ent plat­forms and chan­nels. The fact is per­son­al­i­sa­tion is all about cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. When you give peo­ple exactly what they need and when they need it, on what­ever chan­nel they are on, they are going to love you. It doesn’t get much more emo­tional than that.
 

Spe­cific Actions and Strategies
If we mine a recent Cor­po­rate Exec­u­tive Board study and reduce it to a few emo­tion­ally based action­able items B2B mar­keters can take to make B2B Mar­ket­ing per­sonal, we get some­thing like this:

  • Lis­ten, observe, and under­stand your customer’s per­sonal goals and emo­tions. Sell less and lis­ten more. B2B Mar­keters need to objec­tively observe their cus­tomers to spot non-verbal or con­tex­tual cues that reveal under­ly­ing emotions.
  • The insights gained from lis­ten­ing, observ­ing and under­stand­ing will allow you to cre­ate mes­sages that con­vey per­sonal value by using your cus­tomers’ nat­ural lan­guage, tone and style not your inter­nal jar­gon and stan­dard catch phrases. Mar­ket­ing tech plays a sup­port­ing role here with key­word research. It is still a big part of the process to make sure you are see­ing what terms will res­onate with the not only your spe­cific cus­tomer but also the larger market.
  • Change man­age­ment is always an obsta­cle to over­come and is a highly emo­tional topic. You need to drive action by clearly show­ing the cus­tomer that their cur­rent pains are more endur­ing than the pain of change. Change will be a one-time con­cen­trated effort while cur­rent pains will exist for­ever until you over­come the emo­tional block to change management.
  • Always pro­vide the cus­tomer value in return for his/her busi­ness. Give the cus­tomer new insights about their busi­ness needs then lead them to the dif­fer­en­tia­tors that makes your brand dif­fer­ent from the com­peti­tor brands that are vying for the same business.

What are your thoughts? I’ll be doing a keynote pre­sen­ta­tion, “Sci­ence + art: Get­ting emo­tional in B2B mar­ket­ing”, at the B2B InTech 2015 con­fer­ence in Lon­don in March. Join me in the promise the con­fer­ence pro­poses of hav­ing a day of new insight and inspi­ra­tion in mak­ing your B2B mar­ket­ing efforts be excellent.

Originally published on the Adobe Digital Marketing Blog: B2B Marketing — Science, Art and Emotions