SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

B2B Marketing Content Must Address "Soft" Factors

OnlyHuman

For some reason, in B2B content marketing, we seem to forget about the "whole" buyer. More and more marketers are embracing buyer personas and the idea of becoming customer centric, but we often only focus on the business side of the buyer, as if they walk into the office and leave the rest of themselves outside.

In the personas I help my clients create, a lot of research goes into what I call "orientation." Orientation is an attempt to identify commonalities across the personalities of people who tend to hold the roles that our marketing and sales programs pursue. These traits can tell us a lot about how to structure content to make it more appealing.

For example, an engineer who is detail oriented would likely prefer content that backs up a premise with research and fact, rather than relying on the company's credibility for it to be believable.

But a report released by Fortune Knowledge Group, in collaboration with Gyro, makes it very clear that there's much more to be taken into account. In Only Human: The Emotional Logic of Business Decisions, 720 business executives clearly reinforce the notion that "soft" factors, such as trust, relationships, and reputation still hold sway.

I have heard this first hand in customer interviews during persona projects where the response to why a vendor was selected was a version of "we just felt they 'got' us and what we're trying to do more than the others." Or "we felt more comfortable with them." And "they made us feel like a big fish in a small pond."

While it's undeniable that insights from data are being used in decision making, the final factor that cements the deal or decision could be intuition or based on a gut feeling. And, marketers may be part of the problem.

You see, the business executives strongly agreed that as information grows and decisions become more complex, they are relying more on those "soft" factors to decide the way forward, including the vendor's culture (53%) and reputation (70%).

Notable highlights from the study:

  • 71% say short-term financial sacrifices are worth more than long-term gains
  • 65% believe subjective factors that can't be quantified increasingly make a difference when evaluating competing proposals (only 16% disagreed)
  • 61% agree that when making decisions, human insights must precede hard analytics
  • 52% say ambition, admiration and potential rewards outweigh fear of failure

So how do we, as marketers, use these insights?

First - add a cultural assessment to your persona development. Review the cultures of your best customers and learn what they have in common. Then correlate those qualities to your company's culture. How can some of them be woven into your content and messaging wtihout skewing the content back to a company focus? Think of this as a style factor for the way your content is written or created. What words emulate the values that your company shares with your best customers?

Second - use more carrot than stick. Take a positive path with your content, rather than the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) approach that content takes in an effort to build urgency to change. Help your prospective buyers see the success, rather than avoid the failure.

Third - become better storytellers. Stories engage intuition and help people think for themselves. A well done story invokes emotion in the reader/viewer and helps them to anticipate what their future will look like with the objective met or the problem solved. Stories are meant to engage humans - they've done so for thousands of years.

Finally - take a serious look at what it takes to build long-term relationships, not quick wins. The study finds that trust is a key soft factor for decision making. Earning and sustaining trust and credibility were proven to trump analytical intelligence. This means it's even more important to create consistent experiences across the entirety of the relationship, not just during part of it. And this goes for everyone involved - marketing, sales, customer service...

How is emotion manifesting during the buying process at your company? 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

Latest Stories
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...