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Why We Need To Stuff Our Briefs With Emotion 

Briefs With Emotion

They’re called pain points for a reason, right?  

We call them pain points because we know what pain does to us.  

Pain makes us feel. We have an emotional response to it. 

Yet, in B2B marketing when we demonstrate those pain points we turn into automatons, delivering campaigns with product-driven functional messaging devoid of any emotion. 

A highly respected B2B Managing Director once sat me down, and he said helpfully, “B2B headlines can never be negative”.  

Why not? 

If there’s pain, meet it in the creative. Don’t shy away, embrace it.  

Alternatively, find the joy in alleviating the pain and illustrate that.  

Why? Because we’re all emotional creatures. Another word for that is humans. 

And so is your target market: the C-suite.  

The C-suite have all got one thing in common.  

They’re people – they get pissed off when they break the heel of a Manolo Blahnik, spill coffee on their Valentino tie, or when someone cuts them off in traffic. And sure, in the latter example it’s a little easier in a Tesla with in-built back massaging seat nodules, but they still find stuff annoying, because people are emotional. 

And that’s why we need emotional insights in our briefs. 

Tara Austin, partner, behavioural science, Ogilvy UK, argues that, “The model is shifting. That means that every brief is really going to bring together the universal, the cultural and the individual. That means bringing in universal human truths.” 

The best campaigns are built on the deepest insights. It’s the beautiful union of strategy and creative. And the way to get emotion into briefs is to ask a very simple, very human question: how does this problem make our customer feel – and by extension, how does the solution make them feel?  

Simon Collister, director of the Human Understanding Lab Unlimited, believes that at the heart of successful advertising is the need to understand the human, so all briefs must start with insights. “Really digging deep into the person, and building everything around that, is the way forward.” Because it’s crucial to understand your buyer persona – to uncover their motivations and drivers.

So why do we elevate the functional to sacrifice the emotional? 

The trick is, when we’re ideating, we shouldn’t relegate that emotional part of the brief to the background. And when we ‘sense check’ the creative, we shouldn’t just laboriously cross-check the functional mandatory solutions-led benefits. 

Why don’t we consider touching an emotional chord mandatory in the creative?  

Jane Deehan, Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn states that evidence has long been stacking up that “B2B brands miss out by not putting themselves out there emotionally”.  

She references research from Les Binet and Peter Field for the B2B Institute shows that “B2B strategies that appeal to emotions are actually 7x more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than rational messaging”. 

A study in 2018 confirmed that successful B2B marketing appeals to the emotional as well as the rational side of the brain. Bain consultants Eric Almquist, Jamie Cleghorn and Lori Sherer mapped 40 factors that matter to buyers into a pyramid based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It found that more personal elements such as benefits to career and inspiration are more appealing. 

We’re driven by our emotions. Most of us can’t control them. 

So when we see something that touches us deeply we’re drawn to it. Often in spite of ourselves.  

Speak in an emotional language and people will listen, no matter who they are. 

Any campaign worth its salt provokes an emotional response. B2B marketing should not be any different – it should ripple with emotion. 

Myth busting the power of emotion

So let’s finish with Jane Deehan, from LinkedIn who offers the three great myths of B2B Marketing: 

Myth Number 1: Emotion involves a visibly emotional reaction 

Emotions take place on many different levels – the subtle feeling that a brand understands you is often the most powerful feeling of all. 

Myth Number 2: Emotion is a brand marketing tactic only 

Emotion helps convert stimulus into response and is perhaps our most powerful asset. 

Myth Number 3: B2B products can’t generate an emotional response 

Why the hell not?  

And here’s the thing: brands that do put themselves on a launchpad because no one else is doing it. 

What are your thoughts, Chief?