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Connect, surprise, empower and delight: Does your B2B content strategy evoke emotion?

By Martha Porter Fiszer

Today’s B2B buying landscape is more competitive than ever. It is also highly commoditized. For marketers who want a leg up on the competition, this poses an enormous obstacle to growth. From med tech to manufacturing to professional services, B2B companies are struggling, in part, because they rely on price, service or product features to differentiate their brands. Consequently, their content marketing strategy focuses on bottom-of-the-funnel drivers like product sheets and sales tools.

The recent trend toward thought leadership is a smart step toward differentiation. According to a study from Edelman, 45% of decision-makers invited companies to bid on a project because they produced thought leadership content. But studies also show, even the most technical B2B thought-leader brands could benefit from a content strategy that includes a few goosebumps or guffaws.

Embrace the emotion behind content marketing

In the brain science community, there is the longstanding view that emotions drive our decisions. At the deepest level of our minds, we respond to how people (and brands) make us feel. As Maya Angelou puts it, “ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

According to Motista, originators of the Predictive Emotional Connection Intelligence model, emotional connections drive the marketing funnel. Their data shows, when it comes to growth, brands that leverage emotional connections outperform the competition in their category.

Listen, share, celebrate and evolve

Emotion-based content marketing is a lot like friendship. There’s an instant connection, a sense of familiarity and an insider quality to interactions. You talk in shorthand, laugh at the same jokes and cheer for the same team. These things occur because you share similar viewpoints, values and experiences.

The brands that do this best are in touch with customer beliefs and needs through every phase of the buying journey. Smart content strategists observe their audience in the wild via Tweet Deck and platforms such as Cision. They look to survey resources like Qualtrics to help them gather feedback from customers and employees. And they build tools such as  Emotional Personas to inspire content that establishes, and nurtures, strong connections.

Emotional brand connections go deeper than audience perceptions and preferences reported in focus groups. When you connect with a customer in a meaningful way, you form a lasting bond and a sense of loyalty. You make their life easier and you help them feel good about themselves and their life’s work.