November 01, 2018

Can B2B marketing be emotional and genuine?

Did that social post just pull at your heartstrings? Or did it try and fail? If we’re honest, a lot of marketing and branding efforts strive for emotion, a tactic that often resonates with both B2C and B2B audiences when executed well. However, when it’s too much of a strategy rather than genuine messaging, it risks becoming fake, manipulative and ineffective.

As such, we open up a gray area in the B2B marketing world. How can B2B brands pull off emotional marketing and brand storytelling that feels authentic to their audiences? Here’s our two cents on appealing to emotions in B2B marketing:


Why is it important to make an emotional connection?

If you’re of the mindset that B2B marketing is better off taking a logical approach, you’re not alone. However, there is value in trying the emotional route. B2B buyers are a smart bunch, but they’re still humans who apply emotions to decision-making. While brands should be careful to sidestep feelings of insincerity or manipulation, emotional B2B marketing can help them stand out from the crowd of business-minded messaging and resonate with audiences in more meaningful ways.


How do you do it without being pushy or phony?

You can’t just add cute puppies to your next social video post and hope it attracts viewers. While it would be great if B2B marketing was that easy, emotional content will only be successful if there’s a connection to your brand. It can connect to products or services, current promotions, upcoming events or charity work, as long as it tells a compelling story within the larger context of your brand narrative.

Added to that, your content must communicate relevant personal values in addition to business benefits. That can include professional benefits, such as earning respect from colleagues and subordinates as a better leader, or emotional pros, such as increased confidence or enhanced feeling of accomplishment. Research from CEB, now Gartner, actually found that these personal values can have twice as much impact as business values when targeting B2B customers. The trick to being successful is making sure you highlight the right personal benefits that are important to your customers, as well as being able to follow through on the promise.


How will your audience feel about all this?

The most nerve-racking part of emotional B2B marketing is holding your breath while waiting to see your audience’s reaction. The key to giving yourself more confidence in landing the joke or sending out a true tear jerker is knowing your audience. When you understand what grabs their attention in a good way versus what’s bound to make them cringe, you can consistently distribute content that’s authentic and engaging.


What’s your brand narrative?

The idea is to develop and maintain a brand narrative that surpasses marketing. If the messaging is true to your brand, including its roots, purpose, core values and actions, your audience will see how worthwhile it is to work with your company. It’s not just for the sake of a sales pitch, it’s about building a sincere and trustworthy brand today and for many years to come.

With all this talk of feelings in mind, B2B marketing can in fact appeal to emotions and still be genuine. The key is to use authentic and cohesive storytelling to create a brand narrative that aligns with company as well as client values, tugging at the emotions without being phony or manipulative. If you need help finding the right voice and platforms to build your brand narrative, reach out to the B2B marketing gurus at JK Design. They understand the power of authentic brand storytelling, working closely with you to define the marketing strategy that resonates with an overarching narrative.

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