You have a nifty product. You’ve hired a staff that really knows their stuff. And you provide Impeccable service.
But how do you let the world know you’re here? And most importantly, how do you convert people into customers?
It’s all based on human emotion. People have super sensitive radars. In less than an instant they make snap judgements.
For B2C consumers it may be, “Do I want to buy that shampoo?”” But for B2C, it might be, “Does our company need to invest $1M in software platform to automate our business?”
Typically, many stakeholders are involved in this decision. Everyone has differing backgrounds and opinions. Conflicts may ensure. And the buying cycle can take months, even years, from the time the company begins looking at your product to the time they put their name on the dotted line.
To play the long game, B2B companies have to put their best foot forward to gain a sale.
Appealing to B2B Customers
B2C marketers know emotions play a big part in consumer decisions. But did you know the B2B buyer is even more emotionally invested in their providers and vendors than the average B2C customer?
To influence buying decisions, psychology comes into play.
A recent Google study shows that potential B2B consumers increasingly look to digital channels when forming opinions about their major purchases. This means on-line content is an integral part of the emotional appeal that leads to a sale.
The simple fact is, B2B companies have more on the line.
If the average consumer buys the wrong shampoo, no big deal. But when decision makers are in charge of $4M budgets and make the wrong buying decision, there are real consequences.
So B2B marketers have to pay attention to emotional triggers as much, if not more so, than B2C marketers.
This article explores 7 emotional triggers marketers need to know to get B2B customers to convert to a ‘yes’:
1.Put your faith in aesthetics
People are visual creatures. The way things look matters.
In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the adaptive unconscious and how quickly our brains make decisions based on what we see.
This behavior is actually a survival mechanism.
Humans are constantly scanning their environment. If anything seems kind of off, this can be a danger signal. So when it comes to marketing, any small visual inconsistencies can chip away at trust.
One example is changing a logo. If the new logo is not used consistently, it can lead to confusion and can inhibit trust. With all the spoof emails and hacks going around, this matters a lot.
As marketers, we need to pay attention to every little detail. People are actually more discerning and are much more vigilant about how things look. They pay close attention to avoid shady emails.
So don’t do more harm than good. Consistent design is critical and must be in line with your company’s brand guidelines. Often, marketers put more priority on the content itself. But the way it looks–the aesthetics matter, too.
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2. Request justification
As marketers, we make a lot of ‘asks’. People are more likely to follow through on something if they know exactly why you want them to do it.
We ask people for their contact information and email addresses. We ask them to fill out a contact form, or to turn in a coupon.
But we’d be much more successful if we told people exactly will happen, why we need their information, when it will happen and what they get in return.
A couple of brands do this really well. For instance, one ad from a pretzel company asked users to download their app, type in their email and address and they’d send a free pretzel within 48 hours. And they delivered.
People get tired of marketers who use their information without their consent or being unclear about what’s happening with their data.
As marketers, we win trust and participation if we are clear about what we want people to do and why we want them to do it.
It becomes a reciprocal relationship where you are asking them questions, delivering on what you promise and constantly building trust so customers will move forward and choose you as their provider.
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3. Social proof and the bandwagon effect
As humans, we look to other humans to validate our actions, especially if it’s not something we’re familiar with.
Have you ever been new on a job or in a new school or college? You start by observing. First, you see what everyone else is doing and that sets the tone for what you’re going to do. It’s critical to use this in marketing.
Brands use social proof every day by listing their customers’ logos on their landing page. If a company works with a big customer like AT&T or GM, people think, if it’s good enough for GM, then it’s good enough for me.
That’s social proof.
And then there’s the bandwagon effect. We are pack animals. We want to be where everyone else is. We never like to be the odd man out. So If you can demonstrate, in subtle ways, that you have a popular product, that’s the bandwagon effect.
For example, on your landing page show pictures of lots of people using your product or service. On social media, feature influencers who use your product. If you can demonstrate the sheer volume of clients or customers you have, that’s the bandwagon effect.
We like to be where the action is.
A hotel in downtown San Jose hires people to park their Ferraris and Lamborghinis out front because they know that attracts attention. This hotel actually hires well-dressed people to hang out to draw a crowd.
It’s the same reason the barista at the corner coffee shop fills her tip jar with coins first to make people think, wow, others are contributing; this is what I should do.
This can be applied to a niche market as well. When a company wants to appeal to a smaller group, if the group is perceived as having authority or influence and is more exclusive, people want to be a part.
Social proof and the bandwagon effect are two triggers that work in tandem.
4. Serial positioning
Serial positioning is interesting. Basically, when humans hear information in a sequence, it’s easier for us to remember what we hear first and last.
In a sequence of information, the first thing said usually has some sort of influence or impact over the rest. So we commit that information to our long-term memory. What we hear first usually gets committed to our long-term memory.
That’s called the primacy effect.
Information which is stated last is usually stored in our short-term memory. This is called the recency effect.
You may have heard that we can store 7 things in our short-term memory. The stuff in the middle is really hard for humans to remember. And as B2B marketers, we can use this is in whatever we’re creating.
In a press release or an article, the information presented first and last is going to be easier for people to remember, so place the most important details first and last.
This applies to other things, too, like buying advertising slots for a podcast or television show. You want to place your ads first or last.
You can even apply it to getting the first or last slot at a speaking gig at a conference. When in the middle, it’s harder to remember who you are.
In writing content, applying this concept may seem unnatural. As marketers, we are inclined to be storytellers. Sometimes we want to carry people through this journey and save the big reveal for the end.
But nowadays, people have so little time, so it’s better to put the conclusion first.
Declare what you want them to know first, then go back and weave in your storytelling. If you can open with the point and then get into the details, people actually appreciate that more.
5. The availability cascade
Basically, the more we hear something, the more we’re inclined to believe it.
Brands that do this well take the essence of their messaging, and are very particular about the wording. They use those exact phrases all over the place and never deviate. They drill these messages into our minds because we see them everywhere.
Look at brands like Apple. They’re so clear.
We know it’s the best screen on a mobile phone and it’s the fastest chip because we see these phrases so often in their TV spots, their print ads and their web ads. So now, anytime their competitors come out with a new phone, they’re the de facto leader.
They become what everyone else has to measure up to.
Many marketers may understand their key differentiators or hot features, but may actually change their language or use different word choices every time.
This matters a lot.
If you can get your team in alignment around how to describe each feature and agree on the exact wording, don’t be embarrassed or shy about consistently using it.
You see more impact because people pay a lot less attention to our marketing than we think they do. We think we can’t use that same phrase over and over again, but the truth is, people scan.
They’re busy and distracted.
So spend time to hammer one message home and it will start to resonate with people. If you’re very concise with your wording, it’s easier for them to remember when the time comes to buy.
6. One of the most powerful of all human emotions is curiosity
Curiosity is often underestimated by marketers, but is extremely powerful.
Even B2B brands can use curiosity effectively. However, it’s all about balance.
Some marketers think using curiosity in their ad campaigns is saying something unexpected. Or strange. That’s not curiosity.
Curiosity is giving people just enough information so they want to learn more, but not too much so they feel they already have a good understanding of your product or service.
This is balance.
One headline was ‘How your blog is like a 400 pound cupcake.’ I guess that’s mildly curiosity arousing, but it’s not really saying anything.
What they’re not doing is achieving that balance. They have to give readers something more. People need to know there’s going to be some context and relevance for me.
Otherwise they’ll never read that article.
Marketers also need to segment it out right. It’s a statement. Maybe one guy is a cupcake aficionado, but maybe I’m not. So know your audience.
With subject lines, headers and talk titles, slogans or taglines, we have to give people just enough information to where they realize that it’s relevant to them and worth their time to go investigate.
However, don’t go overboard and give away too much because then people are busy and think, ‘Oh, I already know what that’s about. I don’t need to investigate further.’
You have to leave a little mystery to where people are going to be curious to start a trial or contact your team. You can’t just give it all away.
A rising trend is not even putting screenshots of a software platform, for instance. This might sound counterintuitive, but it can be done successfully where marketers use stylized graphics of your interface versus the interface itself.
You know there’s going to be some people who say that’s not going to work. But marketing is about experimentation. Don’t throw the whole thing away.
Labeling is surprisingly effective. As humans, we want to be unique. We strive to be different. We want to think we’re unlike anyone else.
People actually enjoy being labeled as long as the label is positive and will actually change their behavior to live up to, or exemplify, the label.
In one interesting study, researchers took a sampling of the public. They had one group of people off the street hey labeled as politically active. After assigning a label to a specific group, those people were 15% more likely to vote.
As marketers, you can label your customers by the qualities you want them to have and they will actually live up to your expectations.
Some interesting research has been done with customers who are labeled Gold or Preferred and who spent more money just because of that label.
One company took a random sampling of their customers and gave them those labels and they actually changed their behavior.
When marketers assign labels to clients like high-performing, industry leading or cutting edge, we actually find our customers are more likely to participate in co-marketing activities with us. They’re more likely to try new features and take advantage of our webinars.
People want to live up to that expectation we have of them.
Others see our customers doing these amazing things and they want to live up to that. You can actually train your prospects and your current customers, too, to behave the way you want them to behave by labeling.
Say, you’re trying to attack young hip, clients or maybe you’re trying to attract families people who travel a lot. When you start using that type of language when describing your customers, that’s who you’ll start attracting.
It’s amazing the lengths that brands will go to label their customers.
One hilarious example is a high-quality, top-tier fashion house sending a bunch of free purses and clothing to some of the stars of The Jersey Shore television show. However, it wasn’t their own clothes; they were sending their competitor’s clothes–literally thousands of dollars of free clothes.
You know why?
Because they didn’t want the Jersey Shore cast to wear their garments because they felt it would be a bad fit. They didn’t want to attract a certain type of clientele.
This fashion house realizes how important it is to be protective over who your customers are. They understand how quickly trends can go a direction that you may not want.
Experimentation is key to good marketing
The biggest thing to remember is a simple marketing philosophy: experiment until you find what works and keep doing more of that.
All marketers should consistently experiment and keep pushing to try new things.
Since tactics have a half life, we need to constantly find new tactics and strategies we can use to connect with people.
It’s important to have a growth mindset and keep experimenting. And most of all, to stay curious!
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