In a recent paper Promotion to Emotion developed by Google and CEB (Corporate Executive Board), some fascinating insight is shared on the role emotions play in buyer choice of B2B suppliers. It centres on business suppliers understanding personal outcomes for the buyer, which means emotion. Emotion in purchase decisions is not just the preserve of consumers, in fact in B2B it is a more significant part of the buying decision than B2C. Perhaps it has to do with the higher risks in business decisions (financial risk, personal reputation, status, career). Indeed, B2B purchasers are 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value. They are 8 x more likely to pay a premium when personal value is present.
But how does the small to medium sized business easily get to this nirvana of emotional connection for business customers as well as consumers, without the benefit of large marketing teams and insight resources? Well it sounds hard, but it is simpler than one might think. Here are 3 steps to win your customer’s heart;
1. Step into your customer’s shoes
Yes, we have heard this since learning marketing at college. But really, how often is this done with true empathy, insight and understanding? A simple method is to mindmap the world of your bulls-eye customer, segment by segment. Your bulls-eye customer should be your perfect customer in terms of frequency and weight of purchase, attitude to your type of product/service and location. Depending on whether you have business customers or consumers, this will naturally affect the mindmap, but the point is, you are building a pen portrait of your customer. Start answering these questions and expand your pen portrait from there (using a white board and mindmap, with customer as your start);
2. Construct a shared value
Shared Value is simply the belief set that you share with your customer, or expressed another way, the higher order emotional outcome your customer is looking for. Using the customer mindmap as a source of what this might be, examine your own belief set. What do you truly care about – what’s your personal and business 'Why'? In a recent exercise with a client we got there pretty quickly by asking the question ‘what excites you about your work and what you do?’ We developed this to create a pretty compelling overlap with that client’s bullseye customer. Remember though, your real brand positioning is what your customer thinks, not what you think! So this process is about finding your common ground. A tool to structure and determine the positioning is shown below. With your customer mindmap to hand, work your product or service through the stages in the shared value tool below:
See the B2B example illustration I have created using UPS. See also the connections between the mindmap of Brian and the shared value below;
3. Embed this shared value into offer, customer experience and communications
The shared value structure creates an explanation of your product or service, from who you are targeting, what they get from it, why it’s different, the emotional connection, and why they should believe you. It can be used to structure communications, update your value proposition and indeed your whole offer, including desired customer experience. Refer all that you do against this shared value, it should drive your marketing communications and offer development.
A B2C example is Nature Valley. Nature Valley provide natural health foods and snack bars. This insight and shared value drives Nature Valley’s whole positioning – just look at their website. http://www.naturevalley.com/
Nature Valley embrace the whole offer of their products around this core shared value of ‘Connecting with Nature’. It allows them to own a clear position in the customer’s mind, based on what that customer truly cares about – Nature. That then creates a very different conversation than just healthy snack bars.
By placing your customer’s emotional needs i.e. what they truly care about, rather than just rational needs at the heart of your business philosophy, you’ll start to achieve connections in a way you never did before. Of course it will take some crafting to get the language right and you also may need to qualify this work through building insight. But once you determine this – you and your staff need to be committed to it and visibly build your brand to deliver.
To hear more, tune into my short 30 minute webinar at 6.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday 3rd March (log in details here). If you can’t make this, just jump on to my website anytime after and listen to the live recording.
Jim Parry is the Owner and Principle Advisor of So-Brand.
So-Brand helps business leaders and owners create, articulate and implement strategy, creating strong connections with staff and customers.
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