Even in rather transactional B2B Strategy, perceived value can be influenced and helped by emotional factors.
HBR just dedicated a recent article on this subject. The managers in professional industries, usually believe that B2B strategy is uniquely different and B2C is an alien that cannot fit their complex trade specific. In my opinion, they can get a lot of inspiration from the fine strategies that influence consumers in a Marketing intensive world.
Decision making is subtle, influenceable, biased and full of shortcuts. At the end, Marketing is applied Psychology that creates purchasing behaviours. Acquisition decisions balance on a straight line between transactional and emotional choices. Even referring to a pure commodity market, the customer decision is not 100% transactional. Beside hard cold rational facts, in a price driven word, any subjective, emotional influence, can make the different between profit levels
An article about decision making map that can influence a B2B strategy is here.
HBR identified 40 elements of value in B2B Strategy, which to me, resemble with the old school B2C Brand Ladder.
The Rational part is expectedly heavy, covering table stakes, economic factors like pricing and cost, performance, productivity, scalability, flexibility and availability.
Sometimes forgotten, the Emotional elements can influence important decisions. In the B2C world, the weight of Emotional vectors make difference between the powerful brands and second tiers. In B2B, are related to trust and relationship, personal assessment and career impact. These vectors can help outpace competition, especially when Rational aspects rate at parity.
Furthermore, a new addition, which usually is encountered in B2C positioning is related to Resonance or Purpose, covering vision, hope and social responsibility.
Bottom line, the key idea relates to B2B Strategy that balance the Value Proposition from a Rational only approach, to involve Emotional or Resonance aspects. Thus humanising the brand, considering that computers are not yet in charge to sign B2B contracts. Based on HBR, the perceived value is significantly influenced by emotional factors.
B2B strategy elements, can be grouped on 3 layers:
- Mandatories: ethical, regulatory, specifications,
- Economical: cost and price
- Performance and Operational: quality, scalability, configurability
- Strategic: risk reduction, flexibility
- Productivity: effort, time saving
- Access: distribution and availability
- Relationship & Trust: responsiveness, expertise, commitment, cultural fit
- Personal assessment: design and aesthetics, fun
- Career: reputational & network expansion,
Resonance or Purpose:
- Vision, hope & social responsibility
HBR Full article: https://hbr.org/2018/03/the-b2b-elements-of-value