Five Emotions You Can Use in Your Next B2B PR Campaign

B2B buyers are traditionally characterised as being unemotional, rational decision-makers basing their choices on product or service characteristics alone.

As a result, B2B PR and content strategies are often dominated by the traditional marketing approach of highlighting product attributes and functional benefits. This strategy neglects the role that emotion can play in business-to-business decision-making and also its potential to build trust and create differentiation.

Final purchasing decisions are influenced by a mix of facts, instincts and emotions and there are a number of positive and negative emotions B2B marketing strategies and B2B PR campaigns can tap into.

1. Fear

Fear is a powerful emotion that can be used by B2B marketers to highlight a perceived danger or threat to a target audience. Often fear is engendered by highlighting the risk of inaction, such as fear of lost production, market share or regulatory infringement. However, in B2B PR and content marketing, it must be accompanied by a positive counter emotion such as hope.

A good example is our campaign for Spirax Sarco, ‘Corrosion, Cracking and Downtime’, which highlighted the dangers of traditional boiler economisers and their impact on business performance and productivity, before prescribing a different solution.

2. Pride

Pride is a very personal emotion that can be used to target specific individuals, appealing to their sense of self-worth. In business-to-business marketing or PR it can be used to encourage the use of higher specification of premium-priced materials that enable the user to build or manufacture high-quality or more durable final products.

Our ‘Build Your Legacy’ campaign for REHAU used pride to create content that appealed to the sense of satisfaction that M&E contractors have in their building projects and overall contribution to the built environment.

3. Empathy

The ability to say ‘we understand you and the problems you face’ is a highly persuasive marketing technique for B2B companies. Empathy is a particularly powerful emotion when marketing services or commodity products with few apparent USPs, such as financial, legal or professional services.

A good example of this approach is WPR’s work for BHSF, which used an empathy strategy as part of a B2B content marketing campaign to encourage employers to take workplace mental health seriously and simultaneously reduce their exposure to long-term sick leave.

4. Shame

Shame is a highly negative emotion that can be used to generate a very positive outcome as part of a content marketing strategy. Shame is particularly useful in targeting buyers unaware of the consequences of their actions, such as their impact on the environment or team welfare.

We used shame to target decision-makers in the Building Research Establishment (BRE) who were unwilling to meet with representatives of the pump industry who wanted to lobby for the inclusion of circulator pumps in the government’s Green Deal.

5. Envy

Envy is another negative emotion that can be turned into a positive. The generation of envy in marketing campaigns is very powerful, particularly for aspirational products when potential buyers could be susceptible to an ‘I want one too’ reaction.

Envy was the prime emotion we wanted to generate among chefs in the fine dining sector when we used Michelin-starred TV chef Nigel Haworth to front a campaign for Electrolux Professional’s plancha grill.

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The author: Tom Leatherbarrow is a Director at WPR, specialising in strategies and content marketing for B2B audiences.