The thing about human expectations is that they are never
bound by category. Amazon sets the bar for digital customer
experience. Netflix sets the bar for entertainment. Apple
sets the bar for intuitive technology. Every other business
is judged accordingly. Humans don’t make compassionate allowance
for sectors or verticals in the endless battle for their
time, attention and memory space.
The chances of you remembering any marketing message at the
end of each day are slight. If you do, it’s probably
one that engaged your brain in an emotionally positive,
unexpected but relevant way. The chances are it was from a
B2C brand that understood both the value exchange for your
attention and the right time, right place for the messaging.
Back in 2014 Bryan Kramer coined the term Human to Human
(H2H), focusing on the fundamental parallels between B2B and
B2C audiences – their brains.
It would appear that even with a business hat on the
human brain remains neurologically the same, displaying
textbook behavioural economics; busting the myth that
B2B is a more logical sell.
Even the most logical human can’t suppress the
emotional shortcuts built by the brain to generate feelings
and priorities towards subjects. Without these initial
feelings, there would be no subsequent logical consideration
process, however long the buying cycle. Humans remember not
what you said but how you made them feel.
Further to this, our brains do not magically rewire during
B2B committee-based decision making. Emotion still leads.
Perhaps even more so as committee members compete for their
own differing agendas within a business, post-rationalising
with logic where convenient.
This isn’t creative conjecture, it’s neurology.
FMRI scanning along the human brain’s action pathways,
has revealed how emotion is translated into action, proving
we use emotion as both an appraisal tool and a guide for
If a message doesn’t make us feel something, we
are unlikely to act on it. That’s not good
business in any language.
The H2H declaration was my passport to cross codes from two
decades of creative B2C advertising into the world of B2B
technology marketing at April Six. Filling funnels might
have been new terminology, but fuelling feelings was second
nature in a career working with nearly a hundred B2C brands.
Over the past two years at April Six, forward-thinking tech
brands like Symantec, Lenovo and SAS have embraced a more
creative H2H approach, allowing character creation (a B2C
stalwart) to drive award-winning engagement across multiple
channels. There’s lots to be said for having engaging brand
spokespeople, especially if what you’re selling is
Great casting and B2C standard scripts will get you
engaging, enduring, economical assets.
Film is undoubtedly the flagship creative H2H medium.
Nothing engages an audience’s emotions like it. Volvo
Truck’s Van Damme ‘Epic Split’ is six
years old but still remains fresh in the mind, because of
its imagination and human focus. Its H2H approach generated
$170m in revenue from a $3-4m B2B spend.
The ability to make film interactive or personalised at
scale has only enhanced its appeal to those with the vision
to look beyond the next quarter’s
figures. Combining film with the interactivity and analytics in
platforms such as Vidyard turns the viewer into a
participant, in a way that can deliver valuable data
insights back to your brand.
Many B2B Tech brands still confuse being the cleverest with
the most popular. Popularity is what gets you on
consideration lists, because your brand is front of mind and
feels right. Humanising the brand creatively can
dramatically increase this popularity. Having the better
product is not enough. Ask Samsung.
Too many B2B Tech brands default to the brand-cuffs of a
templated design language applied to inane stock photography
with generic copy lines. Sure it’s consistent.
Consistently missing the chance to engage your audience with
a level of respect for their intelligence and time.
You’re contributing to marketing pollution not your
Creativity is a critical part of engaging humans in the most
effective manner. Albert Einstein remarked that 'Creativity
is intelligence having fun'.
The B2B technology sector is full of intelligence that
would benefit from having more fun.
Note: This article is written by Alistair Ross, Creative
Director at April Six UK, a sister company of Splash.