20 November 2014
The event kicked off with a mad scientist food lab (think Heston Blumenthal). The smell and incredible taste sensation of a liquid nitrogen sorbet bomb, followed by bacon and eggs ice cream, will live in our memories. Using these senses was a clever way to evoke deep, long-lasting emotional engagement.
And science supports this – the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling that it’s sometimes called the ‘emotional brain’. Smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.
There are two theoretical systems that drive the way we think and make choices:
• System 1 – AUTOPILOT: fast, parallel, automatic, effortless, intuitive, emotional
• System 2 – PILOT: slow, serial, effortful, more logical
Did you know that 85% of decisions we make are from the unconscious part of our brain? B2B marketers often make two big assumptions about customer decision-making: that people are rational and that it’s a single decision. But our brains mostly default to System 1 to make decisions. Not only this, but if someone is reading information that’s too complex, it can actually trigger pain receptors in the brain.
As we’ve said in previous articles, you’re still dealing with people in B2B marketing. They just happen to be at work. It’s true that B2B has some specific challenges like multiple audiences and very long buying cycles, but things become much simpler with a P2P (people to people) mindset.
If you believe that you’re dealing with people who think rationally because they’re making very important, expensive business decisions, and so tailor all your communications around rationality, then it won’t work. As the science tells us, playing to intuitive, emotive human nature is going to be much more powerful than just facts, stats and ‘value propositions’. This is where creative agencies come into their own – it’s in their DNA to short circuit things by finding engaging and emotive propositions.
B2B companies are 50% more likely to win a tender if they lead with an emotional proposition. This is precisely the sort of work we’ve done to ensure business success for clients like Balfour Beatty. We helped them create a winning bid for power stations, using the idea of ‘rehoming the pigeons’ to tell the story of keeping power stations clean. If you make people laugh, it’s what they remember – and it’s a whole lot more effective than death by PowerPoint.
Or look at the 2012 Olympics tenders. The thing that won it for London was the bid film ‘Inspiration’, by relatively unknown New Moon Television. The film focused on how the London Olympics would inspire the champions of tomorrow. It used an emotive connection in the most aspirational way. Compare that to other bid films like that of Paris – a somewhat arrogant offer by famed director Luc Besson.
The event also featured lots of discussion around the idea of ‘helping as the new selling’. Miele, the white goods manufacturer, is just such a case. It targets care homes in the B2B marketplace. Miele conducted research to investigate care home managers’ day-to-day challenges and decision-making.
Instead of just trying to sell its products, the brand created a hub that allows care managers access to instructive, best practice information on running care homes. Some, but not all, of the content was linked to Miele’s own products. It’s a value exchange that provides people with content to make their lives easier without the hard sell – something of immense value.
These are truths that we probably all know on an intuitive level, but it takes somebody to distil and refine them into presentations to make you think, ‘Oh yes! That’s good.’ But whether new thinking or not, we can’t dispute that they work. So what’s stopping you from treating your customers like people and engaging with them emotionally?