It’s pretty clear that emotion plays a role in marketing. Think about an ad that made an impact on you. Perhaps an ad for phone services, showing a bride calling her grandmother in Italy, brought tears to your eyes. They’re not selling telecom, they’re really selling connection. A commercial showing a retired couple getting financial advice is really selling security.

Those are B2C examples, though. With B2B, are the stakes different? Does it all come down to hard facts and logic?

Actually, no.

When it comes to B2B marketing, a lot of businesses operate under that very understandable misconception, but the fact is they are selling to people, not companies. And people are emotional beings more than they’re rational beings, whether they like it or not.

Evelyn Timson reinforces the point in an article posted on B2B Marketing’s website:

To understand the forces at play here, we need to understand the way our brains make decisions based on any number of given stimuli. Behavioural psychologists have broken this process down into two distinct systems.

System 1 (fast): System one decision-making is intuitive, perceptual and very fast. It is also mainly subconscious, which means it is entirely involuntary. Unlike the more rational system two thinking, system one works on generating associative impressions, feelings and emotions in our brains that cause us to react to certain things in certain ways.

System 2 (slow): System two is an analytical, rule-governed part of our decision-making and the one we like to think we all exclusively use. This is the rational side of our brain that helps us make sense and circumvent the everyday problems and dilemmas of the world around us. System two thinking helps us justify our decisions but increasingly research suggests that system one has far more influence on how we make decisions.

How to Harness Emotion in B2B Advertising

Here are some strategies to consider.

Incorporate Storytelling: Paint pictures for your audience to generate an emotional connection. When they get involved, they involuntarily create a visual picture of the story you’re telling. They become a co-creator with you and become invested in your story. Tell a story about the readers’ pain points being successfully overcome: They’ll see themselves in it.

Benefits over Features: Your prospects might think they’re seeking a reliable product/service, but they’re really seeking a chance to be the hero. They want to make a choice that delivers benefits: time savings, professional advancement, increased sales. Think about the benefits you can deliver and the emotional charge associated with them, and sell that.

Capitalize on Social Proof: Testimonials, reviews, and case studies present the ultimate emphasis on the personal nature of transactions. You want your prospects (people!) to identify with your satisfied customers (also people!).

Consider Color: People respond to color emotionally. Some responses are purely personal, many are cultural and a few are universal, such as green (the color of nature) being calming and yellow (the color of the sun) being warm and cheerful.

Keep the Price “Hostage”: Reveal the price too soon, and your audience will skip your marketing messages and never hear your story. Give them a chance to fall in love with your message, and with their own picture of their success, before they confront the price.