Humanizing B2B Marketing

Deloitte found that organizations that create a “human experience” were twice as likely to outperform competitors in terms of revenue growth.

There is a fallacy in the generalizations that B2B marketing is rational and B2C marketing is emotional. There is a huge human element in business purchases. The professionals would like to deny it though, given that they are supposed to be un-emotional in such decisions (even though research says otherwise).

HBR identified 40 fundamental “elements of value” that B2B customers use when making a decision. These are divided into five categories: table stakes, functional, ease of doing business, individual, and inspirational.

Beyond the rational factors…factors like if the product can enhance the buyer’s reputation play a very important role.

Deloitte found that organizations that create a “human experience” (e.g. aligning to the values of their customers, workforce, and partners) were twice as likely to outperform competitors in terms of revenue growth.

So to build a brand with a long-term competitive advantage you need to connect emotionally too.

  • Personal Engagement/ Relationship

While evaluating, there are bright chances there is always an extra something which goes on gut feeling and also the relationship with the partners. There are instances that even if the product is good but the partner company did not handle the relationship well, the deal fell by the wayside

Newer players need to bring in a fair share of emotional connect to dislodge existing suppliers/partners, assuming that the product quality is the same.

  • Brand Awareness

Today, the moment a supplier reaches out to us, chances are we will work the net to find out more details – website, articles, key stakeholders, etc. It will be wrong to downplay brand awareness.

  • Status Symbol

Like consumers, businesses are also influenced by status symbols. Assuming all things are the same and the resources available are the same if you were asked to choose between Mckinsey and another consulting company, chances are the former will win. And that’s emotional branding. It shows that your organization can afford to work with the best, plus puts you higher up the pedestal, and of course tremendous badge value. That’s no different from an individual consumer.

  • Peer Pressure

Similarly, if a product is used by many, then you are likely to consider it for yourself. The same works in B2B. You’re more likely to consider Tally for your accounting rather than any other package.

  • Career Impetus

(In hushed tones) Another factor is career advancement. An employee needs to demonstrate good decision-making skills hence the selection of the right supplier is a step in that direction.

  • Credibility

Your brand should be known in the industry as being tried and trusted. If you chose a known brand then the risk is lesser even if something goes wrong viz a brand which no one has tried.

  • Brand Fit

Like consumers decide on brands based on various factors like ethics, attitude, purpose, etc. This is also the case with companies, however, the weightage of each will vary.

  • Brand Benefits

Like consumer marketing, B2B marketers need to communicate the benefits of their product/service to the buyer.

Buyers Have Emotions

As much as it is not mentioned, B2B products are also serving an emotional need through the purchase. It has been proven that emotions do come in the way of rational decision-making

Time to focus on Human Marketing

As HBR put it, “The mix of objective and subjective priorities, and the often conflicting perspectives within a single corporate customer, can be tricky to untangle. “Their rational side along with their emotional one has to be met.

Putting humans in the middle of your B2B marketing strategy is the key.

Prospective buyers are human beings that require to be addressed at a human level. We forget that both the rational and emotional needs of the customer have to be met. They need to be engaged to be ready to enter into a long term relationship.

Buyers also expect their partners to embody human qualities – loyalty, transparency, steadfastness, consistency, and authenticity.

Central to the human focus is building the human experience. Deloitte, in a study, states that ‘the human experience is central to weaving a brand’s purpose across all its interactions and relationships. Internal operations should then specialize in improving the human experience for all.’

They also researched trying to identify and quantify a Human Experience (HX) Quotient found that: “Companies that specialize in the human experience are twice as likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth over three years and have 17 times faster store growth than those that don’t .”

They uncovered and explored five core human tenets for elevating the human experience, to activate human values in business:

  • Be obsessed with all things human
  • Proactively deliver on human needs
  • Execute with humanity
  • Be authentic

Here are some ways for B2B marketing to engage at a human level instead of simply selling a product:

  • Storytelling: Rather than using jargon, show the benefits of how things will get easier. Show testimonials of existing customers, their experience and results. (In a sales pitch, we will always say how great the product is)
  • Authentic: Buyers will need to be impressed upon why they can trust your brand/product, use real case studies that show how your brand solves problems, and even reveal challenges that surfaced and were overcome along the way.
  • Social Media: Use SM to showcase the values, the people behind it, etc. Give it a human angle.
  •  Communications: Humanise the brand and create content that will interest your target audience. Create ways for the audience to interact with your brand.
  • Personalized Buying Process: Understand the customer journey. Map your customer so that each person is given a personalized solution to meet his or her organizational needs.
  •  Build and commit to a Relationship: In today’s scenario, relationships are not built one-off. They need someone to handhold, take them through the process, and help to solve any problems which may arise.

The idea is to make the experience as seamless as you can

Understand that we are humans communicating with humans. And that should be the bedrock for your marketing.

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