Friday, 14 November 2014

Emotional and not rational aren't the same

When i see headlines that tell me emotion in marketing is important i feel uncomfortable, probably as uncomfortable as your colleagues outside marketing feel. I want to question it. Understand what they mean by emotion. I want to know the context. 'You never got fired for hiring IBM' is an extremely rational message, expressed emotively. Different point. Perhaps emotion is just the wrong word. To be honest i think it is inaccurate, it just screams total irrationality. I just love the blue collage. And i dont believe anyone is suggesting this.

However if we said.

Buyers use intuition, certainly when shortlisting. They don't have all the information so they cant be purely rational. People buy from people they like. Some decision makers look to minimise risk, maintain status quo rather than optimise every decision. You would nod and agree not all decisions are 100% rational. It is just when we say purchase are emotional, we lose the audience.

Perhaps if left it as buyers cant afford the resources and time to make every purchase a rational one we wouldn't be having this debate.

Please include attribution to B2B Marketing with this graphic.

Why emotion is important in B2B

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Marketing is a commercial function not a shouty one

Before I got into the communications industry I sort of assumed that was what marketing was all about, communications or more accurately TV advertising. Understandable really, fresh out of college all I could see was the advertising on our telly, the big posters on the high street, and the press ads. I was wrong then and a lot of organisations are equally wrong today.

Too frequently marketing has become the home of what is perceived as useful but non essential type activities like advertising, CRM, Brand, Events.Thats is why marketing lacks board representation. It is an attitude even more prevalent in sales led organisations.

Maybe in some instances it is the right one but it is frustrating for marketers because marketing in the broader sense has the power to transform a business. Notice I didn’t say drive leads or sales. You have to set your sights higher than that. Marketing is, or more to the point, should be a commercial function not a shouty function. It needs to help the business address the big questions like.

Who are targeting? Who are we NOT targeting? What are they worth? What are we prepared to invest in converting them? What do they need? Why are they not engaging with us? Is our product or service fir for purpose? Is there a smarter way to distribute our product or service? How are we going to make money? That sounds like the start of a business case.

It feels as though the CMO has all too often become the CCO, the chief communications officer. The role of marketing has been split across multiple functions, including sales, finance, customer service; lots of owners but little accountability for the big picture. This is in stark contrast with Peter Drucker’s viewpoint on the importance marketing.

“A business has only two functions, marketing and innovation. Everything else is cost.”

Drucker’s perspective is difficult to argue with this especially now in a world where businesses are transparent, products are increasingly commoditised or  copied and such a premium is placed on customer experience.

So how is it going to change?

I wonder if the catalyst will be the recognition that we are now all in the business of service, every product brand is effectively becoming a service or it should do so. If you buy that idea then you tend to think of your business having two sides the customer facing half, and the internal half. The new CMO will be the CXO, the customer experience officer.

And with that the role of marketing is re-elevated. Job done.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Emotion - a very dirty word in business

We went to the b2b conference yesterday and we discussed the need for emotion in our marketing. It wasn’t really a debate, everyone believes marketing must be emotive if we want to engage customers. So what’s the problem? Actually there are several and the result is a lot of marketing dross.

First and foremost the problem is everyone at these events are marketers. So whilst we recognised that emotion is important we also know that the word triggers exactly that amongst finance and sales colleagues. ... Anyone suggesting we need emotion in a business context must be a non-commercial, arty marketer who studied geography or history at university. It is all the worse in b2b where sales culture tends to dominate, as does the belief that all b2b buyers are rational experts speaking only xls, features and ROCE.

Second, we tend to discuss emotion and rationality as though they sit along some sort of sliding scale. I am sure every agency can tell you stories of not so junior clients asking them to put more emotion into communications, make it less rational. Unfortunately there is no magical emotive pump gun sitting in the creative department. 

Third, we assume that emotion is something that resides purely in communications. So once you have got through the advertising designed by the geography department then its down to the stuff that really counts rationality, features, negotiation and the jedi mind bending skills of sales.

Lets unravel them in turn. 

The first is the easiest. Yes. Emotion is a dirty word. We cant change that, but we could address the topic slightly differently. Telling sales we need our brand to be liked enough or feel intriguing enough for a consumer to want to interact with us may resonate better.

Communication should act as invitation to find out more, not an hour by hour agenda of the party to follow. Just don't talk about emotion or your colleagues will just mutter history of art or something similar. 
Second, yes you can have your cake and eat it. Is showing nuns grasping the simplicity of technology (IBM) an emotive message, a rational message or a rational message introduced emotively. You know the answer and you know what works. Have you seen the cat film showing the machinery manipulating massive blocks of Jenga? The vehicles are nimble, flexible and powerful. Its just that giant Jenga gets the message across better than say they are ... nimble, flexible and powerful. 

Third, and this is a bit more controversial. We seem to have forgotten that we work in marketing not just communications. There are other ways to add something that is emotionally intriguing. Perhaps through the UX, or call centres, or even service level agreements. Its so reliable we are doubling the warranty period for a $1. That’s emotive, its also rational. And its definitely not either or.

There are lots of b2b brands that sell successfully using emotion. That’s probably the next piece to write. 

Disclaimer. Any mistakes i have made in the past weren't my fault. 

About Me

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United Kingdom
Just curious about marketing, psychology, economics, business, irrational behaviour, people, models, communications, advertising, market imperfections, b2b marketing. I work in the marketing communications industry for OgilvyOne.