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Thoughts On Creating Compelling B2B Branded Content

I love this quote, “the play button is the most compelling CTA on the web”. Not sure exactly who first coined it but the stats bear it out: people want to watch video content whether for entertainment, education or to make decisions about products or services.

However, what if the most compelling thing about your video content was the play button? What if your target audience clicked play and then disengaged? This is a challenge, especially for B2B marketers who need to reach other businesses with their content.

B2C marketers have it easy, don’t they? They’ve got scope to be creative, disruptive, and emotive to attract and engage consumers; but B2B video marketers have to be serious, professional and dispassionate to be taken seriously by B2B decision makers, don’t they?

Not true. Some of the most effective B2B video content today uses exactly the same strategies to target businesses as B2C marketers use to sell to consumers. It excites, it emotes, it challenges viewers to take action and do more than just press play. That’s because we’re all consumers and we’re all human. We make decisions using the emotional part of our brain, whether that’s to buy a new car or to invest in CRM software at work.

 

How Emotions Govern Decisions

I recently came across a TED talk by a neuroscientist called Antonio Damasio. He argues that emotions are a crucial part of decision making. His research into a group of people with damage to the brain’s limbic system, which controls emotions, appears to confirm this. In studies he discovered that this group were ‘normal’ in most ways, apart from not being able to feel emotions or, crucially, make decisions.

Many people working in B2B marketing, and commissioning video content from agencies like ourselves, want to remove emotions from their content. They believe that decision makers will choose to do business with their company based on cold, hard facts.

Some people believe that using emotions in their B2B video content will reflect negatively on the brand – detracting from the professional image they wish to project. Surely a logical argument for using their products or services is what B2B decision makers are looking for?

Typically the approach is to identify the issues, challenges or business goals your product or service is aligned with. Then to explore the options prospects have, the benefits your business can deliver, and the USP that differentiates your business or solution.

All these can be illustrated using logical arguments, facts and stats, and business speak that presents a fait accompli, making any rational decision maker immediately respond to your CTA.

But this approach overlooks an important factor. While ROI, performance, business objectives, and the bottom line are part of the decision making process, we’re communicating with people who are emotional, sometimes irrational, and driven by other factors apart from logic.

These factors are emotional, aligned with the logical argument, but far more compelling than facts and stats. Effective B2B branded content uses these emotions to engage and inspire decision makers, combined with those cold, hard facts that will help them justify the action they choose to take.

Emotive content may reflect the feelings someone has about the challenge they face, or the emotional rewards they will get when they resolve that issue. It can reflect both individual emotions, positive and negative, and the shared emotions people experience when working with other people. If your business offering is targeted at the individual, individual emotions have a clear role to play; if it is used collaboratively, or if your business model is to build professional relationships with clients, shared emotions become important too.

That doesn’t mean that your B2B video content should be full of people over-acting feelings of frustration, anger or despair at the challenge they face, then ecstatically high-fiving everyone when they successfully use your solution! Effective B2B branded content is a lot subtler than that, however you get the idea.

So when you sit down to consider the content of your next B2B video, as well as considering all the quantifiable benefits and attributes of your product or business also think about how it feels. How do your prospects feel, what emotions resonate with them? What emotions does your business communicate to prospects, how do your employees feel?  What emotions do you associate with your archetypical ‘happy customer’? Build up an emotional picture of your company, and use these to sell the logical argument.

Then, I would expect your video content to be just a compelling as the play button.