B2B technology customers need cuddles too.
Two years ago I read The Millionaire Next Door, the revised, revised, revised edition. Why didn't they revise the title? What's one million dollars going to buy...one house! Anyway if you haven't read it let me save you $9.45 on the Kindle version and tell you in six words how to be rich - Be quite tight with your money.
After years of reckless spending, I decided to throw my all into this book. The first thing to go was the car. I needed a bigger one, so instead of upgrading my Audi, I downgraded to a Honda. I felt very smug about the money I’d saved on the purchase price and future service bills, which of course would be put into better investments. (Think self satisfied laugh and cat stroking in manner of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in James Bond)
Two years on however I find myself gazing longingly at European cars. The gorgeous rear of the Audi Q7, the handsome and bold stature of the Range Rover, the badge of a Volvo XC90 sitting just so, below the wiper blade.
I tell myself stories of five hour family car trips that would be spent laughing and joking. Of an interior cabin filled with the sound of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, where my children and I would sing in perfect harmony and my superior vocals would finally be recognised. Of the love and admiration I would receive from friends and strangers alike on my fine choice of stylish vehicle.
Non of this is logical of course. It is all emotional. In real life, my children would still drop their food crumbs all over the floor, I would still get car sick when navigating the Great Ocean Road. I would still be forced to turn off the Sound of Music for Taylor Swift and there would still be impossibly rude, shouting from the back seat of 'SHUT THAT UP!' when I was mid way through belting out 'High on the Hill was a Lonely Goatherd. Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo'.
My life with a European car would be exactly the same and quite frankly, logically it is crazy town to spend close to $100k on a car but the reason people do and the reason I want to, is all to do with emotions.
But that's cars, I hear you scoff, everyone gets emotional about cars. When it comes to B2B technology people are making much more rational decisions. Well, it turns out, they are not.
Antonio Demasio, in his book Descartes Error studied people that had suffered damage to their emotional brain centres which rendered them unable to feel. With IQ and rational centres of the brain still perfectly intact, these people stopped having the ability to make any decisions - even small ones.
Contrary to what science believed for the majority of the 20th century, humans make emotional decisions about absolutely everything and then find every logical reason in the world why they should actually go with their heart.
In a field like B2B technology that has a lot of complexity, intricate product details, logical systems and processes it is very easy to forget that this technology is being bought by humans. Those pesky beings who make decisions on everything whether it be personal or business based on emotion.
Emotions in a business sense rely on things like the purchaser or client knowing that you are going to make them look good, that you are going to take away or help them with the issues that give them pain, that you can be trusted not to rip them off, trusted to deliver and trusted to work.
So just how do you do marketing that appeals emotionally?
1) Make your brand positioning single minded - people's brains are full. Full with work, with family, with friends, with multiple email accounts, with multiple devices, they are on multiple social media platforms, they read multiple news sites, they are tired, they can be hungry and sometimes they are even hungover. So if you are at all confusing or overly detailed in the message you are delivering there quite simply isn't enough room in people's heads for you.
2) Entertain, engage or educate - facts are hard going. Humans are hard wired to absorb things that are interesting to them. We gravitate to things that make us laugh or make us cry, that have insights directly related to the struggles or the joys we have experienced. We like it when brands engage with us or educate us on how to improve our business or personal performance. And when people like you, they buy from you.
3) Be visible - In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman tells us that people trust other people the more they see them. Not necessarily because the people we see are anymore trustworthy than strangers but purely because we have been exposed to them. Brands are no different, people will choose you over another brand because continual presence rightly or wrongly equates trust.
So slowly put down the product manual, step carefully away from the functionality charts and give your customers what they really want..something from the heart. Although on second thought, maybe not a cuddle...a cuddle might just be a little too much heart. It is business after all.
Jodi Gaylard is co-Director of The Revery, a marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia. The Revery simplify complex value propositions and create 'human shaped' marketing to educate buyers, accelerate sales and drive revenue.