Rethinking demand creation

June 20, 2016 Mark Emond

What is it that separates Apple from Acer? Why has Tesla become the runaway darling in the electric car market? Why did Slack achieve explosive growth before hiring its first sales rep?

The Demand Spring crew has recently been putting a lot of thought into what separates the demand creation superstars from the worker bees.

What’s the magic elixir and how can we help our clients find it?

The answer lies in biology

While many think that an undergrad degree in psychology can be helpful to aspiring marketers, it’s biology that holds the key to understanding how to create breakaway growth.

As Simon Sinek points out in his wonderful TedTalk, we make decisions with the oldest part of our brain, the Limbic System. This area controls our emotions.

the brainEven in a B2B buying context, our decision-making is based largely on emotion. We then rationalize our decisions with the newest part of our brain, the neocortex.

Many marketers (especially B2B Marketers) on the other hand, have been largely focused on rational messaging for the longest time. It’s all about business value, capabilities, functionality, features. In one ear, out the other.

That’s why many PC and mobile device makers have fallen behind Apple despite their “feeds and speeds” being as good if not better. They just can’t compete with Cookie Monster or Justin Long.

Or more importantly, Apple’s ability to appeal emotionally to people who wish to challenge the status quo.

Focus on Personal Value over Business Value

The Corporate Executive Board, Google, and Motista conducted an outstanding study in this area with B2B buyers in 2013. The research found that emotions and personal values have double the impact on favorable commercial outcomes (such as purchasing, paying a premium, and customer advocacy) compared to business values. chart 2.1 As the chart below illustrates, personal values have a hugely positive impact on purchasing. chart 2 The research study also found that B2B purchasers have a higher emotional affinity to the products they purchase than do B2C purchasers.

While this may surprise you, the logic is pretty sound – B2B purchasers potentially have a lot more to lose, such as their credibility, future budget allocation, and ultimately their job. Fear is the most powerful emotion coloring our decisions.

We are hardwired this way dating back centuries. “If I make a bad decision, a saber-tooth tiger will eat me”.

Turning around an elephant one buyer persona at a time

So, how do you start to take more of an emotional approach in your messaging? The first critical step is to know which emotions resonate best with your buyers.

Primary research, in the form of a buyer persona analysis, is a great first step. Infusing these critical emotional purchase drivers into your brand voice, your content, your digital channels, and even your sales strategies and tactics are key next steps.

This is neither a small, nor a short-term exercise for the stiff and stodgy out there. But the research is compelling, business people are people too.

And they much prefer it when you talk to them as such.

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