Bringing Humanity Back To B2B Marketing

Three takeaways from the ANA’s 2019 B2B Masters of Marketing conference

This year’s Association of National Advertisers’ business-to-business (ANA B2B) conference brought together top marketers from brands including American Express, Caterpillar, SAP and Ally Financial to talk all things B2B marketing. It was great to spend a few days with peers focused on our craft.

While the conference was focused on a broad theme of “Driving Growth and Building Marketing Value,” the subject of humanity and creating content that tells powerful stories and connects with people emotionally came up time and time again.

Below are three of our top takeaways from the conference:

1. B2B Should Actually Be More Like B2P

Too often in B2B relationships, we consider the business instead of the people behind it. But companies are made up of unique individuals, each with their own emotions, motivations and constraints. To communicate effectively, marketing must tap into their humanity to differentiate the product or service.

“Emotion and logical thinking is completely intermingled despite our traditional learnings about right and left brain.”
-Victoria Morrisey, Global Marketing and Brand Director, Caterpillar

“By Tapping into people’s emotions, we can grow loyalty and brand affinity.”
-Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP

2. Businesses Care About Purpose Too

If consumer marketing has taught us anything, it’s that purpose matters. That’s because it’s proven to be a major driver of loyalty and purchasing decisions and is becoming tablestakes for any big brand. The catch—purpose isn’t something you can fake. It has to be authentic.

“Of the 36 Elements of Value that lift B2B propositions above commodity status—purpose is at the top.”
-Jamie Cleghorn, Partner, Bain & Company

3. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling

Because B2B decisions are logical, they are often considered less emotionally driven. But B2B decisions are actually more emotional than B2C because the consequences are greater. So it is the responsibility of marketers to fight for powerful storytelling that connects on a human level and allows people to see themselves in the creative.

“We have an opportunity and obligation to tell the better, richer stories our customers deserve.”
-David Rabkin, EVP & General Manager, American Express

“Numbers lend credibility and validate a story, but they don’t drive feelings.”
-Victoria Morrisey, Global Marketing and Brand Director, Caterpillar