I remember an experience early in my career when I became passionate about a point of contention in a meeting (I don’t remember now what it was) that someone told me keep emotions out of it. For many years in my ascent of the towers of commerce, I practiced that approach to decision making. Like Michael Corleone in the Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
I have come to believe that, for a marketer, that idea is the kiss of death. If you are not passionate about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, you’ve missed the boat of effective communication. Yes, even in B2B business. “In a recent study performed by the CEB, 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,” says Daniel Newman in Forbes.
So why then do we keep deferring to non-emotional metrics to “improve” our work? Sure, in a world where bots and algorithms are trading in commoditized categories, efficiency equals efficacy. Not so in categories where there is a human factor deciding between business or consumer purchases that will have career or social impact. Yet often with our B2B customers, the focus is on what is easiest for the business to push out: case studies, spec sheets, just-the-facts press releases without much or any thought to understanding the customer’s emotional and behavioral triggers.
This is where effective interactive storytelling becomes critical. The brand tells the story while the potential customer provides the emotional reaction: call and response at its best and most subtle. With more than 57% (Forrester) of the buyer journey occurring before a customer reaches out to a brand/vendor the marketing that touches them had better understand the customer as a human before it pushes the customer as a bot-like buyer. And that requires some emotional intelligence before it requires a spec sheet.
Where does that emotional intelligence come from? First, letting go of your company’s long-held assumptions about your customer because there is more than one “customer” type in our world today. Most importantly, emotional intelligence comes from creating empathy maps that put you in your customers’ shoes, understanding their pains and their gains. It comes from building robust personas rather than purely tactical use cases. Live a day or two in your customer’s shoes and you’ll feel how much emotion is actually tied to their decision making.