I recently came across some brilliant B2B campaigns in a rather strange place; my Facebook feed. I say strange because more often than not it is B2C marketing that seems to achieve the coveted viral status that so many pursue and so few attain.

Why is it that consumer goods seem to gain traction with such ease on social media? What makes us perceive these campaigns as more successful and creative? At the risk of oversimplifying it, it is because marketing for consumer goods tends to focus on emotions, whilst B2B campaigns appeal to our logical side. But are B2B marketeers missing the point? A few studies suggest they probably are, and some of the cleverer marketeers are noticing.

Historically, B2B campaigns are totally saturated with data. Snippets of information produced by specialists and certified by authorities that provide you with the ultimate statistics to convince your audience that your product or service is the best possible option.

As a consumer (and let’s not forget that within B2B world, there are still consumers in the traditional sense of the word) I have to agree that I always enjoy some reliable facts to help support my decision when making a purchase. The same applies to the buyer for a large retail company who is acquiring 2 million pounds’ worth of software; they need to have enough evidence available before they commit to a decision. But what happens when all your options offer similar benefits? Let’s face it, today very few offerings are so unique they could be considered the silver bullet solution for any consumer problem.

What will tip the balance in your favour? Emotion

An analysis of the IPA databank containing 1,400 cases of successful advertising campaigns reveals that campaigns with purely emotional content performed almost twice as well as those containing only rational content; 31% vs. 16%. According to Pringle and Field (both leading voices within the advertising and marketing world) this is due to our brain’s ability to process emotion without needing to engage in the cognitive processes (such as perception, memory, language, problem solving) and the brains tendency to record emotional stimuli more effectively.

So, how does this affect a B2B campaign?

The bottom line is that whoever us making the final decision on a purchase in a B2B environment is still a person. Of course B2B campaigns still need facts and supporting data, but today’s clients want to be engaged with not simply sold to. They will be swayed by emotion, especially when each company is offering such similar benefits.

Then, you may ask, what is the difference?

It is to do with which emotions are put into play. B2C transactions tend to appeal to emotions like excitement, desire, sadness and happiness, whereas B2B campaigns are geared towards trust, confidence, safety and reliability. Some purists may go as far as saying that emotions have no place in a B2B campaign, their argument being that by involving emotions the decision maker might feel manipulated and by proxy your brands reputation tarnished.

Personally I beg to differ. I have seen some fantastic B2B campaigns lately for companies like GE, Adobe and Vodafone where they use emotion in a clear and honest way to promote their goods. I’d wager that over the next few years, this approach will be ever more noticeable; time, as ever, is the ultimate judge. I for one will certainly keep this mind when designing my next campaign.