What if B2B marketing got in touch with its human side?

Why B2B marketing needs to get in touch with its human side

5 October 2020Download PDF

Kendra RogersHead of Insight & Strategy

info@pslondon.co.uk0207 375 6465

Have we become so indoctrinated to split marketing into B2B or B2C that we forget that humans are at the heart of everything?

Does our interpretation of businesses as institutional monoliths mean we forget that they are made up of people who have individual interpretations, myths, feelings and desires?

Let’s be bold – B2B is dead, long live B2H. ‘Business to human.’

A buzzword to some and unheard of by others, when you say, ‘business to human’, even if someone has never heard the term before, they get it. You’re no longer indicating what area of the economy your audience is in – you’re beginning to draw back the curtain and see the really good bits…

Remembering that humans are at the heart of every business allows us to think more creatively about building brand loyalty by trying to understand and empathise with the complexities of the human experience.

Understand the human

The biggest problems and biggest solutions in our world have people at the heart of them. When we start by trying to gain a better understanding of what drives a person’s real-life decision and behaviours, we can connect with them on a human level. The opportunity is even more striking in today’s remote working world, where we’re seeing a new side of our business connections – we’re invited into their homes – complete with pets, children, bookcase art and more.

It’s been said that the ultimate currency in marketing is emotion. In fact, Binet and Field’s research proved that emotional campaigns are more effective on almost all business metrics, especially long-term (Figure 1)1. In these days of raw and turbulent emotions, it seems easy to focus on negative emotions but studies have shown that eliciting positive emotions (ie: joy) in the place of negative emotions (ie: guilt) are more effective in building socially desirable behaviours2, and that emotional factors inspire brand loyalty.3

Figure 1

Emotional campaigns yield stronger long-term business effects
% reporting very large effects on business metrics

The longer the time frame the more emotions drive profit
% reporting very large profit growth

Emotional campaigns are more profitable
% reporting very large profit growth

Make friends

We’ve all encountered those people who do nothing but talk about themselves. We’ve all had that “get me out of here” moment when someone, once AGAIN, makes it all about themselves.

Yet when it comes to brands, it is standard for messaging to focus almost entirely on themselves. If we start to think of our business contacts as humans or, better yet, as potential friends, the dynamic changes. We think less about ourselves and more about them. We focus less on what we want them to do and more on how we can help them. By focussing on their sleepless nights instead of our sales targets, we begin to build a rapport that leads to long-term brand loyalty.

In short, if people like you, the rest comes naturally.

Go with the flow

People change. Products change. Why do so many brands stagnate?

When brands cease to progress, it is only a matter of time before they become irrelevant (or, at worst, obsolete). Using a human-centric approach means being plugged in to the zeitgeist and building on cultural momentum in a way that is both apropos and honest. This doesn’t mean B2B car brands should be “dad dancing” on Tiktok (actually, it could mean that, but it would have to be backed by insight… any B2B car brands want to do some audience planning with us?!). It means listening to and understanding your audience as humans, then being intentional and considerate in your response to those trends.

Final thought…

  • Brand success is contingent on understanding your audience as humans and potential friends and going with the flow.
  • At psLondon, we bring humanity into everything we do, no matter what the acronym: B2B, B2C, B2H, charity, higher education and beyond.

You in? Get in touch.


  1. Les Binet & Peter Field, The Long and the Short of It, IPA (Figures 44, 53, 54)
  2. Randle, Melanie & Miller, L. & Stirling, J. & Dolnicar, Sara. Framing Advertisements to Elicit Positive Emotions and Attract Foster Carers: An Investigation Into the Effects of Advertising On High-Cognitive-Elaboration Donations. Journal of Advertising Research.
  3. Deloitte. Exploring the value of emotion-driven engagement: the dynamics of customer loyalty.

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