It's been emotional | Turtl
The idea that B2B decisions are made rationally, based on business value, is a myth. It's in reality a highly emotional affair.
*It's been emotional!*
*How the human brain makes decisions and what that means for B2B marketers*
can't be trusted
If you remember that dress, then you'll already be familiar with how our brains can deceive us.
Optical illusions are compelling examples, but they're also just the tip of the iceberg.
It's not hard for our brain to be absolutely convinced of something utterly inaccurate, even when the facts are right in front of us
Which is darker, A or B?
- They look the same to me
Are you sure?
You'll be forgiven for thinking that square A is darker than B, after all, A belongs to the darker half of the checker pattern on the board.
In reality both are the exact same colour.
Even with this pointed out, I bet your brain is still struggling to believe that they are the same.
See it now?
- Yep, clear as day
- No, you're lying to me
- What the hell?!
Watch the video.
What's going on here?
The cylinder's shadow creates an illusion of lightness on square B.
Even when you've seen proof that the two are same, your brain has a very hard time believing it to be so because it's predisposed to interpret visual information in set ways. Ways that aren't always accurate.
In this instance our System 2 (analytical) brain is overruled by our System 1 brain (intuitive).
Doctors and decisions
No one is immune to the tricks and trade-offs of the brain
An experiment, part 1
In an experiment, a group of doctors are given a hypothetical patient. The patient has been referred for a hip replacement due to pain and inflammation, and is already in the processes of pre-op consultancy.
The doctors are told that they suddenly realise they missed testing one drug to treat the problem, which could avoid the hip replacement.
The more a decision problem seems complex, the more we tend to choose the default option.
Dan Ariely, psychology professor
They are asked whether they:
a) Pull the patient back from pre-op, halt the process, and test the new drug
b) Let them carry on with the surgery now that wheels are in motion
As we would hope, the majority of doctors pull the patient back to test the drug.
The experiment is repeated, and the doctors are told they failed to test not just one, but two drugs.
Now, the majority of doctors in the group opt to let the patient continue on their treatment pathway, despite the increase in chance of a non-surgical solution.
Why so irrational?
Assuming that the majority of doctors aren't wilfully lazy or egotistical in how they treat their patients, why are they more likely to opt to continue with the surgery route in the second scenario?
Again, System 1, the intuitive brain, is at work. The complexity of the situation has grown exponentially in the second experiment.
It now includes not only significantly more time and effort, but a risk of greater embarrassment at having missed out two drugs, rather than one.
The doctors won't realise it, but their decision here is being steered by our brain's aversion to complexity - an emotional, rather than analytical response.
The elephant and the rider
**One mind, two forces**
The examples highlighted in the previous chapter show there are two sides to our brain, the emotional and the rational, and they manifest in surprising ways.
Jonathan Haidt has a useful analogy for how these two parts influence the way we make decisions: The elephant and the rider.
Prefers quick gratification over long term, but gets things done. This is the elephant.
Responsible for planning and direction, but can become paralysed by overthinking things. This is the rider.
These are also what we've been referring to as System 1 and System 2, as they're more commonly known thanks to Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow.
Haidt’s rider, sat atop the elephant, has the clearest view of the path ahead and of the best route to go. The elephant provides the raw power that keeps them moving forward.
However the elephant is irrational and driven by emotion and instinct. While the rider holds the reins and seems to be in charge, their control depends on the acquiescence of the elephant, which is both bigger and stronger.
Should the elephant and the rider disagree about which way to go, the elephant has the final say.
The tale of Phineas Gage
**Or... what happens when you get an iron rod through the brain?**
Phineas Gage with the rod that pierced him. Originally from the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus, and now in the Warren Anatomical Museum, Harvard Medical School.
The emotional and decision making parts of the brain are linked
Phineas Gage was a railroad construction foreman who in 1848 suffered a workplace accident that saw a 48inch long, 1.25inch wide iron rod shoot through his brain.
Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain [through the exit hole at the top of the skull], which fell upon the floor.
Excerpted from Williams' and Harlow's statements in: Harlow (1848), pp. 390–3
Amazingly, despite the severity of his brain injuries, he survived and made a remarkable though incomplete recovery.
Gage experienced changes to his memory, his personality, and his decision-making abilities. He lost the ability to regulate his emotions and social behaviour, and struggled to commit to any decisions or plans.
The changes to Gage's decision-making and emotional faculties served as the earliest evidence of the link in the brain between the two.
He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible.
Harlow, John Martyn (Gage's physician) (1868)
Your brain notices
things you don't
**The Iowa gambling test**
The Iowa gambling test reveals how the brain's emotional faculties drive decision-making and the weighting of risk and reward
The Iowa gambling test is an experiment in which a subject is shown four decks of cards on a computer screen and is asked to select a card. Each card has a monetary value on it which can be positive or negative e.g. +$500, -$100, +$50 etc.
Unbeknown to the the subjects, two of the decks are “good” and two are "bad". Picking cards from the "good" decks will overall result in a positive monetary total, while picking from "bad" will result in a negative one.
The force is with you
Researchers found that after playing for a while, people start to gravitate towards the “good” decks. This tendency is not the product of the subject's logic or memory. They aren't consciously choosing based on learned experience.
Rather, a look at their brain activity reveals that stress is the driver. The part of the brain that deals with stress activates when the participant hovers over the “bad” decks, encouraging them to pick from the “good” decks.
The role of the amygdala
The amygdala is part of the limbic system and controls our response and memory of emotions, especially fear. When the experiment is rerun with people who have damaged amygdalae, brain monitoring shows no sign of stress when subjects hover over the “bad” decks. Without this emotional warning, the subjects continue to play the "bad cards" just as regularly as the “good” decks, resulting in a worse end position.
The elephant never forgets
Here we see the subtlety of the link between our emotions and our actions at play in a situation of risk and reward. The rational brain would need to expend an enormous amount of energy, to observe and keep count of the relative success of picking cards from the different decks. It's our system 1's recall of emotion, not rational thought, which is driving us towards the most (emotionally) rewarding outcome.
What have we learnt so far?
1. Our preconceptions can often be wildly wrong
2. We are fundamentally driven by our intuitive brain
3. Emotions have a strong but subtle influence on how we make decisions **
Decision-making in B2B
**Do hard facts win the day?**
Emotion has long been understood to be a critical factor in consumer buying behaviour. But with B2B purchasing, there's plenty of assumptions bouncing around that the serious context of these decisions means they are typically well-thought through and value-driven.
We need to reframe how we view B2B decision making. A serious context does not strengthen the rider's control over the elephant. Emotions still occupy the driving seat.
THE B2B ILLUSION
Business value drives B2B decisions
Marketing and sales bend over backwards to demonstrate the superior business value of their brand compared to the competition to purchasing teams.
97% of B2B decision-makers know which vendor they want before the selection process
The reality is, buyers from across industries don't see a whole lot of difference between brands when it comes to business value, as shown by this chart from Gartner.
So how do we make decisions, if not based on business value?
How B2B buyers
really make decisions
**Clue: It involves the amygdala**
We as individuals stand to gain more from a successful B2B purchase decision than a B2C one, and as such they are far more emotional
Understanding the fundamental role of emotion in decision making is critical for anyone looking to successfully influence how their brand fares in a given purchase process –especially if your brand operates in the B2B space.
B2C purchase decisions are low-risk
Consider the kinds of decisions consumers have to make when buying products. The consequences of a bad decision is typically very short term and resolvable.
Buy a bad burger? Have a lousy lunch that day. Buy a bad laptop? Frustrating, sure, but you can probably take it back, sell it, or just put up with it for a few years before inevitably buying a new one.
B2B purchase decisions are high reward
In contrast, B2B purchase decisions contain much greater scope for risk and reward. If we get the important ones right, great things can happen.
As champions of a great decision, we help the company grow and might receive special recognition, more respect, a promotion or pay rise. The sky’s the limit.
Making the right decisions in a business context is good for us, our families and our long-term future.
With high reward comes high risk
On the flip side, if we get a decision wrong, it can be disastrous. It can cost us our jobs, our income. We can lose people's respect, be overlooked for a promotion or moved sideways.
The potentially long-lasting consequence of a poorly judged B2B purchase decision means the risk involved is far greater than when looking to buy the new Apple watch, or even the latest Audi.
Brand affinity drives B2B purchases
Studies have shown that as the perceived risks of a purchase decision increase, so too does the strength of the emotional connection with the brand who manages that risk for you.
It turns out that B2B is incredibly emotional – far more so, in fact, than B2C. With the heightened sense of risk impacting us emotionally B2B customers feel more closely connected to brands than consumers (see Figure 9 from Gartner, right).
According to CEB, 71% of buyers who see personal value in a B2B purchase will end up buying the product or service and 68% will pay a higher price.
Influencing the five-plus people in a B2B buying group requires, now more than ever, the perfect balance of feeling and precision
Christoph Becker, global CEO and CCO at Gyro
Thinking back to the elephant and the rider, B2B decisions are at the mercy of the elephant, and the rider is just that – along for the ride. In fact, the data shows the elephant has twice as much influence as the rider:
Once you have begun to reach a conclusion, the rest of the time is basically wasted
Start marketing for emotions in B2B
**If you take one thing away, make it this!**
Engage your prospects emotionally
This is a far more persuasive way of winning them over, as opposed to appealing to their rational minds.
Focus on experiences
If we’re trying to engage buyers emotionally, we need to focus on the experiences we give them at every point.
Invest in both medium and the message
Experiences require a quality solution for the “how” of our communication, not just the “what”.
Here are some System 2 friendly proof points: