We recently worked with the good folks at SEMRush to produce a webinar for B2B marketers, entitled Bringing Emotion to B2B Content. The premise is that B2B marketers need to throw off the shackles of formality and create content that generates an emotional response form the audience.

If your organization creates competent, intelligent, on-strategy content … you’re probably not getting anywhere. That’s because your competitors are almost certainly doing exactly the same thing! Content creation is too hard to just be stuck in the middle of the pack.

After the jump, you can see the slides from the webinar, plus notes to help navigate your way through the webinar.


(If a specific slide isn’t mentioned here, it’s because it’s pretty self-explanatory.)
  • Slide 6: Appealing to your customers’ logical brain is highly illogical.
  • Slide 7: All evidence points to B2B buying decisions being made by emotion.
  • Slide 8: A 2013 CEB study showed – rather shockingly I think – that B2B customers say they are more emotionally connected to the brands they buy from than B2C brands are. Holy moly.
  • Slide 9: B2B buyers often act out of fear. That CEB study showed that as B2B buyers perceive an increased risk in losing credibility at work, losing time, or losing, God forbid, their job, their emotional connection to a brand increases. In other words, higher stakes decisions make buyers emotional.
  • Slide 12: Importantly, this is not about showcasing your emotions. It’s about getting your customers to feel their emotions.
  • Slide 13: “While our access to raw information has grown exponentially, our time to process this information has declined rapidly, which has placed an premium on the act of meaning making” – George Dyson, science historian. Man, that pretty much sums up the Internet, right? And it makes it very clear that, in order to break through and get noticed by your target audience, you have to do something different.
  • Slides 16-18: You have to target your customers’ feelings and beliefs. You need to get their neurons firing. You need to get them to feel before they will act.
  • Slide 19: Emotion is the gasoline that fuels marketing awesomeness (and the best way tgo get your customers engaged emotionally is to tell thehm a great story)
  • Slide 22: There’s a really cool picture of Julius “Dr. J” Erving on this slide. In the webinar, I talked about how awesome he was – “Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.” There are two points to be made here: 1) I was telling a story in an attempt to connect to the audience, and 2) the story I told was of an interviewer once asking Erving what it took to be great, and he said that he “dared to be great.” That’s what we should all be striving to do in our jobs.
  • Slides 23-26: An analogy – the logical B2B buyer is like the rider of an elephant: He thinks he’s in charge, but if the elephant (the emotional mind) wants to go in a different direction, the elephant is going to win the debate.
  • Slides 27-36: These slides focus on how to generate emotion when you’re selling widgets.
  • Slides 37-40: These slides get into the importance of UX – great design pulls in the visitor. I showed a couple examples – my favorite is the New York Times native ad for Cole Haan shoes.
  • Slide 41: Which emotions are right for your business? It’s important that a B2B brand not stray too far from its brand personality. There are six recognized emotions: happy, sad, disgusted, angry, afraid and surprised. It’s hard to make a case for sad being the proper emotion to elicit, but the other five are viable for marketers – yes, even angry.
  • Slide 43: The first of our examples of B2B organizations that have brought emotion into play – AppDynamics, which launched a comic book this year. This tactic elicits surprise, and makes a key point about waste in their industry.
  • Slide 44:  Example #2, Cisco’s “My Networked Life” series, which told inspiring stories of people in the far corners of the globe doing amazing things with technology.
  • Slide 45: Our third example is Xerox’s “Chief Optimist” magazine – again, a fun surprise that is right on point with what most business leaders tell you.
  • Slide 46: Intel’s IQ Magazine tells inspiring stories of technological innovation – not just from the company but from “regular Joes.” Importantly, they’r enot pushing product here, they’re creating a connection with the audience through awesome, well-told stories.
  • Slide 47: Dun and Bradstreet takes the boring world of database management and livens it up with a Halloween time horror story – “is your database the walking dead?” Good stuff.
  • Slide 48: This one from Intent HQ I love, because it dares to use anger. “Don’t do stupid personalization, because it’s stupid.” Importantly, the anger isn’t raving lunacy – it’s more “c’mon guys, we’re better than this.” Love the courage to use the word “stupid” – most brands would back away from that.