Brand Loyalty

B2B Marketing: Not as Rational as You Think

Many marketers believe that one of the key differences in B2B and B2C marketing is that B2B purchase decisions are more rational. While it is true that businesses usually include more people in the process, and there may be more analysis and justification, that fact is that B2B purchase decisions are ultimately made by people. And people are not always rational.

That’s why there used to be a saying, “You don’t get fired for buying IBM” or whatever blue-chip vendor you wanted to choose. Businesses were willing to pay more because purchasers were risk averse, and they wanted to avoid being blamed if something went wrong. Their need for safety and job security drove the purchase decision. In fact, The calls these needs “Goals, Fears & Challenges” and puts them in two categories: positive (goal attainment or pleasure) or negative (loss aversion or pain avoidance.)

Recent research bears this out empirically: Forbes recently reported about “a recent study performed by the business consultant CEB (now owned by Gartner), which examined the impact of personal emotions on B2B purchases, it was found that 71% of buyers who see a personal value in a B2B purchase will end up buying the product or service. In fact, personal value had two times the impact on the buyer than business impact did. In short, the survey found that without question personal value … overwhelmingly outweighed logic and reason in driving purchase decisions.”

And speaking of IBM, they recently launched an excellent B2B marketing campaign called 60 Years in Singapore. In Singapore, IBM is known as a tech retail company, but without the sex appeal of Apple. Nonetheless, IBM has a long, rich history and tradition globally in computing, which gives the brand a unique quality. In the 60 Years in Singapore campaign, IBM brings together the shared history and culture of the country and the company – and IBM’s commitment to Singapore into the future. The campaign works because it uses real stories from real people demonstrating shared values about progress, culture, hard work, and success – and it’s hard to get more genuine than that.

Enterprise disaster-recovery company Sungard Availability Solutions used humor to connect to the values motivating their IT leadership customers. Every business is concerned about disaster recovery and the impact that would have on their ability to continue business operations. And every IT decision maker purchasing disaster recovery services is very aware of the astounding potential cost in time, resources, and lost productivity and sales due to data breach or disaster. Sungard successfully connected with that motivation by relating data disaster recovery to another kind of disaster: a Zombie Apocalypse. By tapping into the fear motivating their B2B purchasers and making the connection to the value of optimal business performance, Sungard executed an ad in a light-hearted manner, both cutting through the clutter and connecting with potential customers both rational and emotional levels.

Finally, Marketo a leading marketing automation and content marketing firm, touch B2B customer values with their Definitive Guide series. Premium content pieces on any topic from web personalization to account based marketing, Marketo positions itself as the leader in understanding the rapidly changing world of digital marketing. Connecting with their clients’ struggle to stay up to date, Marketo provides wisdom, guidance, and professionalism in a field that sometimes feels like the Wild, Wild West.

Connecting with your customer’s values motivate purchase and loyalty in both B2C and B2B situations.  As Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” And the only way for that to happen is to motivate them by connecting with their deepest personal values.

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