Today, we’re live at the Bowery Capital CMO Summit! As part of our ongoing CXO Summit series, we’ve brought together some of the leading marketing professionals and startup folks from our orbit, for a day of learning focused on end users of the technologies and platforms we invest in and evangelize. For those of you unable to be here in person, we’ll be live-tweeting and blogging throughout the day, bringing you insights from our speakers and attendees.
Speaking at the Bowery Capital CMO Summit today in New York, Gyro’s Scott Gillum made a strong case that B2B companies need to focus their marketing efforts on building personal relationships with customers. Connecting emotionally with customers is key to winning business and maintaining relationships, as well as building brands.
In fact, new research from Google and CEB shows that B2B firms actually generate substantially more of an emotional connection than B2C companies. Did you know that the brand customers feel most emotionally connected to is… Cisco?
While this may seem counterintuitive, it comes down to risk; the more risk involved in a purchase decision, the more of an emotional response is elicited. Making a purchasing decision for a company typically has far more potential impact (both positive and negative) than an individual decision. Thus, once a firm is within the consideration set of a potential customer, the primary differentiator becomes emotional connection. Rather than making a strictly rational appeal with ROIs and metrics, successful B2B marketers should structure their strategies around an understanding of the emotional responses of individuals:
Leadership – How will this make me a leader within my organization?
Promotion – How will this help me advance my career?
Up to Date – How will this ensure that I stay current with the tools of my profession?
Security – Will using a product or service make me more or less secure?
Confidence – How much faith and trust do I have in a product or service?
Smart – Will this make me feel smart?
Cool – Will this make me feel cool?
These emotional appeals can have a direct impact on the bottom line. In Cisco’s case, customers chose to work with them in spite of the fact that Cisco was rarely the most profitable option for the company thanks to the strength and longevity of the relationship.
Ultimately, personal value can have up to twice the impact of business value when competing for business. In an environment where rational information about products and services has proliferated in the form of white papers, blog posts, and so forth, customers are generally much more aware and well-educated about the concrete pros and cons of potential partners. Thus, differentiation must primarily occur at the personal level.