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Is business to business marketing less emotional than consumer marketing? In this lesson, advertising legend, Drayton Bird, gives his own take on emotion.
Video length: 9:09
Grant Leboff: Drayton, one of the things I want to talk to you about is emotion in marking, the importance of it because one of my observations is, I think when people are talking business to consumer people think emotion is important because it's consumer marketing, it's lifestyle and it’s aspirational. As soon as people get into business to business marketing it suddenly becomes dull and completely… these are sort of lists of benefits and rational reasons for doing things. There seems to be no emotion whatsoever. You're still talking to humans, right? What's your take on that?
Drayton Bird: People who don't think that business has emotion attached to it are idiots, complete idiots. There are two things I always say about this. Number one, I used to say to audiences, talking about this sort of stuff, I would say to the audience, "How many people here work with somebody they hate?" Everyone breaks up laughing, yeah. Eventually I found some research, which I can send to you if you like. Somebody did some research into how many people in different parts of the country wanted to physically assault somebody they worked with. It was as high as 61%, wanted to bloody hit somebody, yeah?
You spend more time, probably, awake at work, assuming you don't fall asleep, than you do at home. Your whole future is tied up on whether you do your job properly or not. Jesus, you've got to get it right. You're terrified of getting it wrong. You hate your boss. You're worried about ‘are you going to keep your job’? You're worried about the competition. You're worried about all kinds of stuff. It's very, very emotional, even if it's something ... say I had a client in Portland, Oregon. I did a seminar for them. They sell very, very complex measuring equipment, very complex. There are two or three billion, I think they've merged, there may be four billion dollar business. The truth is, if you get the measurements wrong, you're in shit. You've got to get it right. So trying to find a way, trying to find the emotional call that's attached to your product. The right choice of product or services is very, very important.
Here's an emotional thing for you. There is a guy that I don't know who works hard for a particular job, in a particular company to do with compliance. He was the guy who wrote the rules for what you have to do. One of the things you had to do was to tell people in advance when you were going away on holiday. The business in question was going through a very, very important period… very, very important period. This guy, and it was just a particular time of the year when everybody, all hands have to be on deck. This guy waltzed off on holiday without telling everyone. Can you imagine how everyone felt? He got fired. That's a very emotional situation.
I'll give you another example. There is another company I know, the largest of their field, they're in financial services. In financial services the end of the time when all the budget comes out and everything changes, is very, very important. These people were involved in a huge exercise involving a very, very famous national organization. They were overwhelmed by the response they got from somebody… from everybody. They got thousands and thousands. Everybody in that company, including the directors, stayed until midnight answering the phone calls, except for one guy who was sitting in his lonely pinnacle of success having meetings. How do you think all the people felt about that guy? How many people do you think said to themselves, "I'm not staying with this business any longer?" Because that was the Chief Executive. That's the kind of thing people ... It's terribly emotional.
I got my first job, not my first job, my first big job in London as a creative director back in 1964 or something. I remember I had a negotiation about the salary. The chief executive said to me, and it was quite reasonably sizable agency, about 85 people. He said, "This is a great opportunity for you." I felt emotional about that. Then he said, "We've got a guy here who's very talented but people don't get along very well with him. Do you think you can impress your personality on the agency?" I said, "Mr. Suave," for that was his name, "I guarantee I'll impress my personality on the agency. Whether the agency will like it or not, I don't know."
So that was an emotional thing. He said to me, "Okay this is what we're prepared to pay you." I said, "I'd like another £300" which today would be another £3,000 more actually. In those days you could get a good meal in a smart Italian restaurant for 2 with wine for £3. He said, "Why don't you think about it over the weekend." I said, - I must have had the balls of… - I said "Why don't you think about it Mr. Suave?" That was very emotional. These are the sort of things, that are the fabric of our lives.
I remember walking up Park Street and going "Ah, nothing can stop me now!" That was very emotional. Your career is important to you, the people you like, the people you don't like, they're important to you. If you care about what you do you feel emotional about it, if your good. If you're not good I'm not interested in you anyhow. I'm not writing to the people who don't care. I don't have to write to the great mass. I have to write to the perfect prospect and all the others will come behind like a little flotilla.
Grant Leboff: How do you use that emotion within business to business. I think there's so many good ways people do it in consumer marketing, but I think there are less good examples, there are examples but it's less prevalent isn't it, in business to business?
Drayton Bird: Well you have to think about what are the penalties if they get it wrong, if that's what it's all about. You have to think about their motivations, what matters to them. People say business isn't very interesting. I said, "What the f*** are you talking about? People kill for money. We're talking about money. People kill for money." Talk to people about money. That will usually get their attention. If they're not interested in money they're in the wrong job. If they're not interested in getting it right, they're in the wrong job. Then I start thinking about how can I flatter them by saying, "If you're one of the guys who really cares about what you do…" That's a very emotional statement, instead of saying “We've got a new ‘waka flaka fa fa fa’ with added so and so ...” How fascinating? How are you going to make me successful? How are you going to secure my next promotion? How are you going to make sure I stay in ... I'll give you a line that goes back nearly 100 years from the greatest headlines in John Cable's book. He said, "Last week was I scared? My boss almost fired me." Is that emotional? That's what you're looking for. You're looking for it. Find the kernel of emotion that drives everything else.
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