Last month, Advertising Age asked marketers and agency execs to make predictions about upcoming business-to-business trends in 2015 (Seven B-to-B Marketing Trends That Will Shape 2015). One of the predicted trends suggests that marketing decision makers are becoming increasingly numb to the “digital tsunami of information.” As a result, marketers are looking for “messages that leverage emotion.”
Christoph Becker, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Gyro foresees that “…Data will continue to play an important role in decision-making. However, we have found through our research with Fortune Knowledge Group that decision-makers are increasingly looking to their gut instead of the data.”
At first blush, this trend makes sense. A glut of data makes it difficult to clearly identify what factors motivate B-to-B customers. If realized, this trend would not bode well for market researchers. Perhaps the market research community shares some of the responsibility for this predicted trend by focusing too much on statistical analysis and methodologies.
In contrast to this trend, our experience has found that data is often more effective at uncovering customer emotional motivations than “gut” decisions by marketers. Research can directly identify the visceral reactions of customers by going to the source…the customers themselves. Several research approaches allow a B-to-B marketer to incorporate existing customer data with surveys and external data (psychographics, demographics, etc.) to identify those factors, emotional and other, that drive customer behavior.
Perhaps the best way to address this predicted trend is to spend more time helping marketers understand what their data tells them about how customers make purchasing decisions and, most importantly, what to do about it. The challenge for market researchers in 2015 is to move from a descriptive approach when analyzing data to a prescriptive approach. When that occurs, B-to-B marketers will better understand and appeal to the emotional drivers of their customers.