Brand stories make B2B companies relatable. B2B purchases aren’t as emotionally driven as B2C purchases, injecting a sense of empathy and human-ness into your brand story is important for forging deeper relationships.
Over the past few months, the business landscape has changed dramatically. The needs and priorities of every single buyer, whether B2B or B2C has shifted and brands are having to be much more sensitive with the messages they put out there.
There’s never been a more important time to be empathic to your buyers. Understanding what they’re going through right now and altering your story to align with that is crucial if you want to maintain deep connections with leads and continue to foster loyal relationships with your customers.
Empathy can be tricky to display, though.
It’s not enough to say, “I understand what you’re going through.” Customers want to know that you’re aware of their changing needs in these difficult times and can address them in the right way. When you genuinely infuse empathy, you can better understand the challenges, frustrations and fears of your buyers and offer them the perfect solution.
So, how can you infuse a sense of empathy effectively?
1. Understand the Struggles of Your Target Audience
Empathy is one of the more advanced emotions in humans. Studies have looked into whether other animals also experience it, but many have come out inconclusive.
The complexity of emotions like empathy make it difficult to fake, but one of the easiest ways to put yourself in the shoes of another (which is essentially what empathy is at its core) is to picture that person while you’re writing.
The uncertain nature of the pandemic has led a lot of B2B buyers in all sectors, from the technology industry to B2B healthcare, to seek out human connections with the brands they buy from, rather than just going with the most logical option. When you picture an individual and write your brand story as if you were speaking directly to them, it’s going to be far easier for them to connect with you.
There are several ways you can find out what your target audience is going through right now. You might decide to:
- Carry out market research
- Conduct surveys or online feedback forms
- Ask some of your best customers to hop on a call and discuss their biggest challenges right now
2. Reposition Your Visuals and Messaging
Once you know what your buyers want and need from you right now, you can start to adjust your messaging and visuals to align with that.
Take IBM, for example. Not only did they make their AI tools and resources available for free to coronavirus researchers, but they also switched up their visuals and messaging to reflect what their customers might be going through. On top of this, they created a COVID content center to keep their audience up-to-date with the latest information and helpful resources.
3. Understand Emotional Triggers
Emotions have always played a huge part in informing purchasing decisions, but today, this is truer than ever before. B2B buyers want to invest in brands that “get” them and who are right there with them in these turbulent times.
It’s easy to come up with the logical reasons a B2B buyer might want your product – it might save them time and money, help them perform better at their job, and increase their revenue. But what about the emotional reasons that encourage people to buy? There are a ton of emotional triggers that can be used in marketing but during times like these emotions like optimism and confidence will resonate most with your buyers.
Given the current state of the world, many businesses are worried about what’s to come. Optimism is an important emotional trigger in helping your target audience perceive the future as better than the past.
Take Tableau, for example. They have an entire section of their site dedicated to “Leading through change with data.” Notice the positive language — recovery, growth, move forward. This helps instill optimism in their audience while also showing them how their tool can be used to effectively move forward.
Now more than ever buyers are looking for products and services that they know will help them do their job right. Confidence is establishing faith in your brand and showcasing your ability to help prospects face difficult challenges.
Take Workday for example. They created an entire guide to showcase how their products and solutions can help businesses navigate uncertain times and safely return people back to the workplace.
4. Acknowledge What’s Going On and Give People Hope
At the start of the pandemic, a lot of companies were incredibly tone-deaf and turned off a lot of buyers. Instead of acknowledging the fear and uncertainty people were feeling, they didn’t mention it at all and, in some cases, capitalized on the fear people were feeling to sell more products.
We don’t need to tell you not to do this. Instead, acknowledge your buyer’s feelings and give them hope. Offer the tools they need to get through this difficult time, whether it be helpful content, coaching, etc. While Coca Cola may be a consumer-facing brand, B2B marketers can learn from their example. Instead of bombarding consumers with promotions, they overhauled their social feeds to share resources and messages of hope.
Many brands are also doing what they can to help minimize the financial burden on their customers. Unity Technologies, for example, understood that their buyers might be tight on cash and have more time on their hands. As a result, they made three months of premium content from its Unity Learn platform available to game developers. Through instructional content, tutorials, full courses, and sample projects, buyers were able to maintain their learning during a time when they might need it the most.
Here’s what the brand said during the announcement: “At this difficult time, we remain committed to making it easier and more intuitive for you to achieve your aspirations. We believe the world is a better place with more creators in it. Today we want to go beyond the normal.”
If you’re in a position to offer your services or products at a discounted rate, it will certainly leave a lasting impression on your clients now and once the pandemic has blown over.
Make Your Brand Story Matter
Empathy makes us feel connected to other people. For B2B buyers, knowing that a brand understands them, and their needs is crucial to them sticking around. Infusing your brand story with empathy is so important right now if you want to maintain relationships and retain a loyal customer base.
Start by getting a deeper understanding of what your buyers need right now and weaving that into your story. Imagine you’re speaking directly to them and, most importantly, acknowledge the difficult time customers might be experiencing right now.