Tap into emotional decision making with B2B experiential marketing

Bet you wouldn’t think showcasing power wheelchairs, bariatric equipment, disability scooters, respiratory products, and other home care products to medical providers could ever be an “emotional” decision. At the end of this article you might be whistling a different tune.

We have written previously about a research study that identified primary emotional need states that drive people to seek out experiences and events; we believe all brands should be wielding the power of emotion to draw people in and make them lifelong brand fanatics.

This might seem like common sense for B2C brands and marketers. But what about B2B brands? It’s just as, if not more, important to understand human emotion and how that plays into decision making for B2B decision makers.

Let’s talk about the science of decision making in the brain, specifically as it relates to emotional decision making. Neuroscientist Paul MacLean, PhD. offers a theory about how business decisions are made and why, contrary to popular belief, they’re always based on emotion. When a decision maker is presented with an array of products, the process begins in the neocortex, where logic and analyzing of the benefits of each product occurs. Then the limbic part of the brain is influenced by words and images that evoke emotion and makes the unconscious associations that cause you to feel more positively about one system than others. These associations come back to the neocortex, which then finds facts to justify those emotional connections. Lastly, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct, takes over and lets us know it’s safe to make that decision based on your emotional connection to the product or brand. This is the gut feeling we often use to make decisions, even if it seems like there’s not much differentiation between the products being offered. *

“Customers can always find the facts they need online or by speaking to sales reps, but only marketers have the opportunities to establish emotional connections.” *

Still not convinced by all that science speak?

Let’s look at another recent study published in the Harvard Business Review and hear from the mouths of decision makers. This 2018 study surveyed corporate decision makers to compare the importance of emotional connections versus of cost savings. The study presented participants with a list of words and asked them to rank which ideas factored the most into their decision making process. The respondents chose Product Quality as their number one value and Cost Savings came in at a low 27th place.

Hope, a completely emotional term, was actually ranked the fourth most important value to these corporate business people. How do you measure hope? You can’t. It’s just something you feel. Other terms that often outranked the more conventional marketing terms (like time savings, flexibility, integration) were trust, expertise, responsiveness, social responsibility, and safe. Those are some powerfully emotional words one may not automatically associate with a B2B marketing strategy. So how do you stand out in a competitive market? It clearly pays to appeal to the emotional values these decision makers hold versus just offering the lowest possible price.  

“Emotion creates brand awareness, sells product and can justify premium pricing.” *

Now what? Well, we recommend weaving some of those emotional value words into your next B2B marketing strategy through an experiential marketing program. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: experiential marketing works for B2B brands because experiences and emotions go hand in hand. By bringing a roadshow straight to the client’s parking lot or creating an experience in a neutral location and inviting multiple customers and distributors to engage with your products face-to-face, an emotional connection can be forged between the customer and the brand.

Need an example of a successful B2B experiential marketing program? Check out our work with Invacare. With the ever-changing advances in technology in the health industry, Invacare was seeking a way to further increase brand awareness and preference, particularly with their new products. They also sought to build relationships with contacts in the medical field, generating excitement and training them on new technology. During this experiential moment, medical providers puts themselves in the place of their patient by putting their body in the seat of an Invacare chair. They experienced an “A-ha” moment when they began to truly understand how the chair is designed to meet the needs of their patient and experience the comfort and freedom the Invacare chair provides. The experience, at times, became emotional for the attendees when they felt what their patients feel in these incredible chairs.  

“I had no idea these chairs could do what they do”, said one practitioner.  “They move over and through everyday obstacles so easily and I felt so comfortable.”

Every attendee to the footprint engaged with the product and spokespeople to have meaningful, trustworthy conversations that didn’t feel like a sales call. 

Want to learn more about how we can help drive brand awareness and revenue for your B2B brand with experiential marketing? Call us today! 636.449.3162

*Tricom B2B Stop Making Sense: The Powerful Role of Emotion in B2B Marketing