Harnessing the Power of ‘Emotion’ in B2B Marketing


Do you remember the final scene of the hit TV series, Mad Men? Advertising magnate Don Draper sits in meditation on top of a grassy plain, his eyes closed. A moment of peace and then, ever so slightly, a playful smile creeps across his lips. A great idea is on the horizon.

The camera cuts to show actual footage of the iconic 1960s “Hilltop” Coca-Cola commercial – a diverse group of young people from around the globe, sweetly singing how they’d like to “Buy the World a Coke.”

The message? World peace and world-renowned soda.

What that ad taught marketers is simple – in B2C advertising, emotions are key.

And now, recent research from The B2B Institute at LinkedIn is proving that in order for B2B marketers to get ahead, it’s time for them to tune into their feelings too.

Findings from their study, authored by Les Binet and Peter Field, demonstrated how B2B campaigns that connected with audience emotions resulted in 7x more “very large business effects,” than standard campaigns that appealed to a buyer’s rational side.

That figure is staggering. It’s clear proof that pivoting to an emotive advertising strategy can pay off.

But it also prompts a complex series of questions for any B2B marketer.

What does it mean to capture the audience’s emotion? How do I take my product – especially if it is technical or industry-specific – and highlight it in a way that excites people? Is my creative telling the right story, and more importantly, is that story one that resonates with viewers? How do you want people to feel when they see your ad? What do you want them to remember?

The best way to tackle some of these is to begin with group brainstorm. You’ll want key thought leaders from across your organization – those in product, service, and design – all in one room. It’s time to get a whiteboard up and start jotting down what everyone’s responses are. This exercise means you are starting to develop your marketing strategy around open-ended concepts, as opposed to specific promotions, timelines, products or CTAs.

To add an extra level of insight, reach out to some of your key customers and simply ask: “What do you like most about our product. How does it appeal to you not just on a business level, but on a personal, human one?”

Their answers may or may not surprise you, but they will definitely act as a springboard upon which to dive in deeper with your team.

Approaching it from such an abstract point-of-view can be downright scary, but it allows you and your team to organically express their feelings on what matters most about your brand.

One of our resident art directors here at MultiView, Jorge Soto, recommends you lean heavily on your creative group during this discovery process.

“Whether your design team is in-house, or you are working with agency designers like we have at MultiView, mapping out different visual concepts is a great starting point. Choose stock imagery that is fun, diverse and unique. Don’t be afraid to take risks on fonts, colors, and overall style. Having your employees contribute to a group mood board, centered around your brand, allows them to visually express ideas. It can be the catalyst for new creative ideas or strategy.”

One of they key emotions he recommends homing in on, is excitement.

“Describing what makes you enthusiastic about your product or service, can easily separate you from your competition. Excitement and enthusiasm translate easily both visually and narratively, resulting in an effective tool for promotion,” Soto adds.

If you’re still not sure how to understand or categorize the spectrum of emotions, we recommend exploring a 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. Researchers Alan S. Cowen and Dacher Keltner, PhD, showed participants a series of “emotionally-evocative” short videos designed to prompt distinct and lasting reactions. Their results outlined 27 distinct categories of human emotion ranging from admiration, to excitement, to nostalgia, to satisfaction. Their investigation truly summarizes “the rich varieties of reliably reported emotional experience that may shape human behavior.”

It’s also no surprise that responses to video content were used as the building blocks of their research. Even in the advertising world, when it comes to a format that best plays towards one sense of emotions, video is the clear choice. While it may have traditionally been favored by B2C advertisers, now more than ever we are seeing B2B marketers harness the power of video. In fact, 59 % of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text (Wordstream).

Moreover, 67% of our viewers watch MultiView programmatic video ads in full. That’s because our programmatic video solutions connect advertisers with a captive audience, helping you tell your brand’s story through a creative and dynamic medium.

But no matter what format you choose, when developing your B2B marketing strategy, remember that joyous feeling you got from your favorite halftime spot, eye-catching website banner, or stunningly glossy magazine page.

Be like Don Draper with his sly grin, harnessing the power of true emotion to keep customers coming back for more.

Noelle Pittock

Noelle Pittock

Sr. Director, Canada Operations

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