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Neuroscience Creative B2B Marketing

Can neuroscience pump better creative into B2B marketing?

By Simon Collister, Director, the human understanding lab



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March 30, 2023 | 9 min read

Simon Collister of the Human Understanding Lab argues that B2B companies could do with a dose of creativity. Here, he suggests how to do it with neuroscience.

Blue and black abstract painting

Facial coding can be used to assess the emotional impact of your content / Solen Feyissa

B2B marketing is not where you find the best creative work. That’s what most people think. You may even think it. But it doesn’t have to be true. People talk about ‘taking out the jargon’ and ‘thinking about your audience’. Sure. Of course.

But some methods and metrics can help B2B brands launch bold, creative campaigns that are engineered to deliver results. Interested? Read on to find out more.

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The conundrums of B2B marketing

No matter your product or audience, there are some challenges that every B2B marketer faces when trying to gain attention and cut-through for their brand.

Everything looks the same: a classic question you’ll be asking yourself – what makes our product special? There are probably several brands that offer something similar, and all your customers may see is a list of almost identical options.

Too much noise: good B2B products and services cater to specific business needs, which any marketer worth their salt knows inside out. Every brand looking to compete boasts a stellar marketing department, so we all often end up making the same kind of noise in a very crowded space (even when consulting agency partners).

Creativity is risky: bold campaigns are risky. When you have tried-and-tested ways of doing things, that do at times produce results, why would you change? It feels smarter to bet on safer, dependable methods than risk your quarterly numbers on a roll of the creative dice.

For brands looking to get noticed, bold creative is one option, as evidenced in the findings of a CMO Barometer 2023 study, where 92% of CMOs ranked creativity a top priority. Doing something different can help you stand out in a noisy marketplace and sidestep the issue of differentiation. However, the risk factor is hard to ignore.

The solution? Neuroscience techniques that help you properly test creative ideas and gauge which ones will work best.

Busting the myths

Just reading the word ‘neuroscience’ may make some marketers shake their heads and sigh. But before you stop scrolling, here are a few myths we want to dispel.

It’s way too expensive: not necessarily true. It can be when you add all the bells and whistles, but the cost depends on the project, how you use the findings and various other factors. Plus, if you’re thinking of the financial side of things, it’s arguably a bigger economic risk to produce creative that hasn’t been tested and refined for the right results.

It’s slow and time-consuming: our neuroscience experts from the Human Understanding Lab have turned around research in as little as a week. Brands want to run campaigns that tap into something fresh and current, and the extra insight, carefully gathered and applied, could be what makes your campaign stand out and succeed.

“It’s not relevant for my brand”. Nonsense. Let us tell you why.

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How could neuroscience possibly help with creative?

The bottom line is that businesses only really value creativity, which leads to sales. There’s no such thing as ‘Ars Gratia Artis’ in the world of ROI. So, marketing teams have very clear goals.

The purpose of an email or a piece of web content may be to tempt someone to get in touch. Or take another look at whether they need your service. Or finally, submit an order. You want to spur an action each time. And all these actions are conscious and deliberate.

But the decision-making that drives them is not. A lot of buying behavior and brand engagement is underpinned by three factors: emotion, memorization and recognition.

Each of these informs the decision-making that some folks think is purely rational. Ask a customer why they chose your company or your product, and they’d talk about competitive pricing or the fact that your service has exactly the features they need.

Those may be factors, but they were already primed to take action and make a decision in your favor. In other words, creative marketing works best when it can tap into our unconscious.

The natural next question: what do we measure to help whittle, hone and refine creative content?

Emotion x facial coding

Emotion is one of the three unconscious factors that affect decision-making. And it’s arguably the most important one for spurring action. Thankfully, our faces give away how we feel all the time, even when we’re trying to remain impassive, there are micro-expressions. That’s where facial coding comes in.

It’s good for assessing and fine-tuning the emotional impact of content as this emotional pattern reveals the potential effectiveness of the idea. And, we can pinpoint the moments when audiences feel certain emotions.

Emotional conviction x reaction time testing

As the mind processes incoming information, it builds and adds to webs of related memories and mental associations of meanings and feelings, signs, sounds, etc. So, everything we’ve experienced about a brand is sort of connected. And this impacts how we view, feel, think about, and relate to new information and content from that brand.

Reaction time testing gives us insight into the strength of these connections and associative networks that allow both recognition and memorization – two of our three unconscious, decision-influencing factors. We can assess if messages reach an audience – and how powerfully. It’s good for testing the believability, clarity and relevance of creative concepts. And reaction times can reveal the level of conviction that people have behind what they say in a survey.

Navigating to better conversion

In a world of bottom lines, neuroscientific techniques can give tangible insights – helping brand and marketing teams talk about business risks and get results.

If your senior management isn’t usually comfortable with marketing, neuro and behavioral science could give you the ammunition to convince them to be more creative.

Neuroscience Creative B2B Marketing

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