Data overload might be overwhelming for most marketers and sometimes distracting, but what matters most for forging successful business relationships is shared values, according to the Financial Times’ global advertising director, Laura Milsted. She was speaking at The Drum and Gyro panel — Creative Connections: The business of feelings & emotions, which explored the role of emotions in B2B and how creativity helps connect and innovate. Other panelists included Christoph Becker, CEO and CCO, Gyro; John Rudaizky, partner global brand and marketing, EY; and HP global head of digital experience and marketing innovation, Carmen True.
The panel also explored The Business Feeling Index report conducted by the Financial Times and Gyro with top decision makers specifically about what they feel, and want to feel, during key moments in a business relationship. According to the report three-quarters strongly stood by the statement that ‘communication is the connective tissue of a business relationship’ and that 65% wished to walk away from a business relationship with a feeling of accomplishment when a pairing had run its course.
True from HP said the research touches on “some fundamental human truths” and added: “You can have all the information around data etc, but when it comes to working with people, with other businesses, it is the trust element that first comes into play.”
The role of human relevance and culture in B2B
Gyro’s Becker said: “The reasons behind the choices we make aren’t easily measured. But one fact is certain: Marketers need to focus on what their customers and prospects are feeling and deliver in a way that makes them feel both confident and optimistic.
“Human relevance in marketing has never been more valid and more necessary.” Becker added that company culture also plays a very critical role “especially in these fragile times.” In the study, 83% of the respondents named company culture as the most important attribute in finding a potential partner.
Rudaizky from EY said that businesses cannot lose sight of the fundamentals, which according to him, never changed. “It has always been about story-telling and emotional engagement. Those are enduring truths.
“The channels that you have are more complex, the emotional range that you're dealing with more complex. For instance, if you think about a digital experience with your customer today that is not a satisfying experience. That's a different definition of emotion, right? You've annoyed me, I can't connect with you.The fundamental pillars of storytelling are still valid.”
As EY has been trying to build a purpose driven organisation, he said he wanted to interject ‘purpose’ beyond culture into the conversation.
How to strike a balance between optimistic feeling and reality
Meanwhile, The Business Feeling Index also indicated that amid today’s heightened global climate of uncertainty, one feeling has proved to be the most powerful of all: confident optimism.
Rudaizky questioned how to get the balance right between optimism and reality? After all with optimism, comes the responsibility to manage expectations.
“That can come if the relationship is authentic,” said True. “The authenticity to who you are, what you can really offer as well as what is your brand purpose. And those pieces need to come through and strong.” Christoph added that optimism i itself is not a “viable” feeling. “It has to be rooted in experience, like when you have a sense that you can really deliver.”
Everything is disrupted
At a time when everything is disrupted and businesses are being forced to rethink everything — from the way they do business to the way they engage with customers, is there a ‘disruption readiness’?
Rudaizky said no business can avoid questions around transformation, but what we need to ask ourselves is how prepared are we for this disruption.
True from HP added : “The core about business transformation and new business models is one of the biggest challenges for businesses today. And that’s causing us all to push new ways of designing, developing and getting that research and understanding around how best to engage with our audiences. And it’s pushing us to take risks and be bold about testing and implementing new ways of working.”
Let’s talk GDPR
The panel went on discuss customer journey and how complex it has become. In a post-GDPR world how you use storytelling to engage with the customer?
For Rudaizky, GDPR is an enabler rather than a restrictor. “It's making people think that they have to earn permission to engage.
“So it starts with businesses thinking hard about what they do produce and it's forcing a rethink on the way we all need to add value to business transactions.”