14 Ways to use emotions in B2B marketing

Thinking fast and slow

For a long time, B2B marketers assumed that business decisions were primarily based on rational motivations. Anticipation based on emotion was an exclusive territory for B2C marketers. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that emotion plays an important role in B2B as well. Emotion and rationale are two power fields that together — sometimes in agreement but sometimes in conflict — come to a decision. It’s not one or the other, black or white, but more of a gray area.

In a research study by McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin marketing professor Raj Raghunathan and Ph.D. student Szu-Chi Huang, emotion and intellect have a surprising order. Their research indicates that comparative features are important but mostly as justification after a buyer makes a decision based on an emotional response. So, basically, people make decisions emotionally and justify decisions with facts afterward.

Speak to System 1

According to behavioral scientist and Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, people have two modes of thinking for making decisions. They are:

  • System 1 — the fast, instinctive, emotionally driven one
  • System 2 — considered the slower one

When we try to persuade people we’re right with logical arguments and lists of facts, we’re pitching to System 2. But System 1 is faster and more powerful, and, in most cases, has already decided. All those persuasive arguments are likely to go ignored if System 1 isn’t already on your side. So, always have System 1 in mind when you’re trying to win business or build your brand. You speak to System 1 by making yourself easy to choose. According to Gerd Gigerenzer, another behavioral scientist, human beings like fast and frugal decisions — ones that don’t take too much time or energy.

14 Marketing Tactics Based on Emotions

When we need to speak to System 1, which emotions do you as a marketer want to focus on? Which ones are in line with your corporate identity, corporate story and brand experience? There are many options, including belonging, happiness, joy, fear, pity, shame, envy, love, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, pride, devotion, astonishment, irritation, contempt, guilt, trust, security and acceptance, just to name a few. Different emotions trigger different behavior. To influence buying decisions, you can consider the following 14 marketing tactics.

  1. Sell the How: Solution Selling
  2. Sell the Why: Being Part of
  3. Be Likable and Sell Fun
  4. Be an Authority
  5. Provide Social Proof
  6. Create Scarcity and Promote Exclusivity
  7. Set Core Values
  8. Be a Novelty
  9. Be Physical or Demo
  10. Tell a Story
  11. Introduce Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
  12. Provide Instant Satisfaction
  13. Introduce Reciprocity
  14. Be Better Together

These are the 14 tactics you can use to speak to System 1. Read all about them in our recent blog on MarketingProfs. Market your product or service based on emotion first but don’t neglect System 2!


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