Procurement with its robotic emotions has curbed creativity in B2B marketing

This week, I was asked for my opinion on ‘emotional engagement’ within business-to-business marketing. In my opinion it’s procurement that stands in our way.

Last week, I mentioned the pressures imposed on the marketing team by top-down changing of priorities, and as the leader of a team, I wonder what’s the best way to react to these demands. Should we rise above it, turn the other cheek and say ‘thank you sir’ as each punch from their ever-growing demands reigns in? Or should we stand up for the team and fight back?

When a sports star leads from the front, is it any surprise when they get a red card for over-exuberance? I would argue that it’s dangerous to stifle one’s emotions when you are a leader who genuinely leads with passion. I’m sure there are a few psychologists reading this who would argue that, like a whistling kettle, holding in your feelings can be dangerous – they need to be released.

And that is me. Several of my team have had to duck as staplers whistled past their head when said office implement chose not to release its staples in the way it was designed. Telephones have realised the error of their ways in failing to connect my call and the hole in the office wall will always be a memento of when the commercial director refused to back my business case.

This week, I was asked for my opinion on ‘emotional engagement’ within business-to-business (B2B) marketing, on the pretext that B2B brands have tended to focus on the rational elements of their product/service proposition rather than seeking to appeal to business buyers on a more fundamental level – perhaps exacerbated by low budgets and a lack of willingness to embrace bold creative concepts.

My experience in this is a little mixed. It is true that the business-to-consumer sector has understood the need to understand buyer psychology for much longer than B2B, but I think B2B is more mature than some people give it credit for.

In B2B, you first need to market to the person who is going to sell your product to the end customer, and there is no-one more fickle and emotional than a salesman.

The challenge in B2B, however, lies with the procurement department, who are the exact opposite – as people they have the emotions of a robot, and their modus operandi is to make everything a comparable commodity. They are the true enemy of creative marketing.

But for some reason, my own procurement team rarely come by my desk. I wonder why.


Ashley Friedlein: Marketing in the ‘stream’

Ashley Friedlein

Earlier this year, Evan Spiegel, chief executive of Snapchat, gave a keynote address where he talked about three characteristics of the era we’re living in: internet everywhere; fast and easy media creation; ephemerality. Snapchat is particularly known for the third of those, of course; the evaporating selfie, capturing a ‘moment of me, now’ has become an […]


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