If you ask the average consumer which brand he or she feels most emotionally connected to, you’d think the answer would be a brand such as Apple or Amazon. Definitely a B2C brand, right?
Wrong, according to Scott Gillum, president and channel practice leader at B2B agency Gryo, who spoke at the Bowery Capital CMO Summit this morning in New York City.
“It’s not even a consumer company,” Gillum said. “It’s Cisco.”
Surprised? This was a key finding from a recent study by the CEB, “From Promotions To Emotions.” The study found that 70 percent of buyers are emotionally connected to B2B brands -- nearly three times the number of buyers who are emotionally connected to B2C brands.
The reason for this is simple: level of perceived risk. According to Gillum, buying toilet paper carries little risk because if it’s not a product you like, it won’t make or break you. On the other hand, if you are buying an enterprise technology that’s going to cost your company millions, the risk is great.
“[That's why] in B2B you have to make a personal connection,” Gillum said.
So how did Cisco become the No. 1 emotionally connected company? It’s because of its understanding of business value vs. personal value, Gillum said.
Business value is not differentiating, he explained. In fact, according to the CEB study, personal value has twice the impact on consideration, purchase, advocacy, and willingness to pay a premium. Cisco scores high in the study in terms of the tenure of the relationship with customers and support provided to partners. In addition, 70 percent of Cisco partners named the company as their most important vendor partner, which is 26 percentage points above the industry average.
According to Gillum, Cisco has perfected the art of building personal value in a number of ways. First, it offers customers professional benefits through certification programs. This allows customers to stay up to date and grow professionally.
Next, Cisco has built an emotional connection in that customers are confident and feel secure with the technology/services they are using. Gillum credited that to Cisco’s level support and, again, its certification programs.
Finally, Cisco also enables users to communicate their self-image through brand consumption, Gillum said. This makes customers feel smart and valued.
“Think about how you are wrapping around the buyer,” Gillum said. “If you look at Cisco and how they use the brand, even the colors used in their communications convey trust and reliability. If you look at a word cloud of the terms they use most often in customer communication, ‘router’ isn’t there. You see words like support, services, news. and learn.”
How can you leverage this insight for your own business? Build personal value, Gillum told attendees, some of whom countered that for a huge company with a monster budget such as Cisco, this was easy to do. But Gillus said size does not matter in building personal value.
He cited USG, a company that supplies sheetrock to contractors and has also been able to build personal value. It recently released a new kind of lightweight sheetrock, building its campaign around the recognition that contractors and construction workers have been breaking their backs for ages. The tag line: “The weight has been lifted.”
USG used online and offline executions full of imagery of construction workers carrying elephants, cars, and other extremely heavy objects. The campaign did exceptionally well, per Gillum, and it built personal value. Customers went on the record to praise the product, and this content was also used in marketing collateral in the form of video testimonials.
“You’ve got to elevate the personal connection,” Gillum said. “And it requires a mental shift.”