Article
What Separates Good B2B Content from Great B2B Content? Empathy.

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15 December 2021

B2B marketers buy into the idea that B2B isn’t personal. 

But here’s the secret: All good marketing is personal. While buyers might have logical justifications for choosing a product, buying decisions are inherently emotional. 

Harvard Business School researcher Gerald Zaltman says that 95% of our decisions come from the subconscious mind. This means B2B marketers need to dig deeper to reach real human emotion. Your marketing solutions were developed to improve lives and address pain points, so why aren’t you appealing to buyers on a personal level?

What does an emotional connection look like? 

Grief, anger, joy—maybe it feels impossible to appeal to your buyers on a deep emotional level. But emotional appeals can take many forms. Tap into these emotions when building content for B2B buyers.

  1. Anticipation. B2B buyers are 50% more likely to purchase products when they see the personal value, whether that’s a direct benefit to their workflow, career advancement, or pride. The anticipation of expected value drives purchasing decisions. 
  2. Trust. Whether buyers trust you, your organization, or your product is necessary in their decision to buy (and keep buying) from you. About 93% of C-suite executives say working with an honest vendor is essential. Marketers can build buyer trust along the funnel by connecting with customers and cultivating those relationships.
  3. Apprehension. Buyers attempt to address pain points when they embark on a purchasing journey—their own and their organizations. B2B marketers can tap into the fear of obsoletion and failure to nudge buyers along the path.

Understanding buyer needs

90% of marketers believe that understanding the buyer’s journey is critical to success. Yet only 40% of marketers are using consumer insights to make decisions. 

Insight into the buyer’s journey should be data-backed. In order to make an emotional appeal to your buyers, you have to understand them. 

Buyer insight can start with buyer intent data. First, you need to understand how your customer base operates: what they’re searching for, which content they appreciate the most, what other products they’re looking at, and how they’re reviewing products. 

Your insight capture should also dive into buyer needs, building profiles of what matters most to your ideal customers. Finally, talk to your customers, ideally through a third-party provider, to understand their experience and unique frustrations and desires.

Empathy through storytelling

So, how do you execute the emotional appeal? With storytelling.

Creative director David McGuire writes about three ways to use storytelling in B2B marketing: illustrate, differentiate, precipitate. 

  1. Illustrate. Numbers and data can build the backbone of how you demonstrate the value of your solution. Illustrating that data builds meaning for your audience. Case studies are a key example of this kind of storytelling: a clear example of how a customer overcame a challenge and an explanation of the benefits they received by doing so. 
  2. Differentiate. Is a lot of your content starting to blend together? Storytelling takes the “meh” out of repetitive content by helping readers understand your key takeaways in different contexts.
  3.  Precipitate. In other words, “give your customers a story to tell.” Translate the benefits of your offerings into tangible, shareable insights. Word of mouth is a marketer’s best friend, so make it easy on your clients by giving them a concise, appealing story to share.
Ashley Shailer
By: Ashley Shailer
VICE PRESIDENT,
MARKETING
Ashley has spent more than ten years designing and implementing world-class demand creation and lead management strategies that leverage the latest in marketing technology. She’s held client-side and analyst roles in marketing systems and marketing operations, and consulting roles that leverage her unique expertise in lead nurturing, account-based plays, content, messaging, and social media strategy for more than 40 clients.

In her spare time, she can be found enjoying a good super hero movie, a solid single malt, and dessert (not necessarily in that order).
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Ashley Shailer
By: Ashley Shailer
VICE PRESIDENT,
MARKETING

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