The importance of considering B2B audiences as people rather than businesses has already been documented. And the most successful B2B brands have made that shift from the mentality that businesses make decisions to purchase their solutions – it is individuals within those organizations that make the call. And as individuals, our responses and decisions are as firmly rooted in emotions as they are in rational argument – if not more. As Antonio Damasio puts it, ‘Humans are not either thinking machines or feeling machines but rather feeling machines that think.’
This central need for emotion at the core of a B2B brand hasn’t changed – but the stakes have been raised. With the growing emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), marketing is entering a new era. In this era, it is essential to start and maintain meaningful, emotionally relevant conversations, to generate a genuine and more lasting connection.
A sophisticated AI interface can engage with different audiences, at different times, for different reasons. To build that kind of interface needs a brain that’s part coder, part playwright, to conceive every conversation that might happen – and consistently engage in a way that is both personal to the audience while carrying across a unique personality and value proposition.
A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.Rainer Maria Rilke
In the world of post-modern marketing, conveying an emotive message can’t just sit statically at the heart of a brand. It needs to live across these multiple conversations in a deeper and more human way than ever – it’s about bringing the brand to life in a way that is flexible, instinctive, and personal. We need to convey the emotional truth of a brand at scale.
In a post-modern B2B strategic planning process, it is therefore essential to build on rational arguments to seek out emotional truths and relevancy that we can communicate with greater range and depth than ever.
When we consider the emotional benefits of an offering, we can focus on two key questions. Firstly, how does the brand or offering make our audience feel as an individual? Secondly, by using the brand or offering, how will the individual be perceived by others? Both the innate feeling that we inspire in customers, and how we contribute to their perception and image, are powerful emotional pulls that – targeted to an individual’s wants and needs, and delivered to them through intelligent technology – can create consistently compelling and emotive messages to truly engage audiences on an individual, human level.
In communicating these emotional benefits to customers and prospects, businesses also need to maintain a powerful character and tone. Consider your brand or your offering as having not just an identity, but a personality. Move from asking ‘what is the brand?’ to ‘who is the brand?’ – and allow it to start conversations that inspire an emotional connection as well as a rational response. In the world of post-modern marketing, brands will be remembered not just for what they say or do, but how they make individuals feel over time through every individual interaction and conversation.
Jessica Stewart is a Lead Strategic Planner at Stein IAS.