Caterpillar Digs Into Emotional Side of B2B Marketing

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Caterpillar’s “Let’s Do the Work” campaign highlights the people who get the work done.

Think buying a bulldozer is a completely analytical, emotion free purchase? Think again, says Victoria Morrissey, global marketing and brand director of Caterpillar.

Emotion is sometimes seen as the enemy of logic, but no decisions are completely rational, whether you’re buying a roll of toilet paper or signing off on a fleet of construction equipment , notes Morrissey. In B2B in particular, the power of emotion is deeply connected to risk.

“When you think about what excavator you’re going to use to dig a building, the risk is massive,” she says. “Your credibility, your reputation, safety, the ability to deliver on time—all are at risk. And with high risk, emotion spikes.”

The power of emotion can drive more effective marketing. Emotion and logic should be considered equally when crafting B2B marketing strategies, she says. At the recent ANA Masters of B2B conference in Chicago, Morrissey shared key principles of emotion marketers need to keep in mind.

Think story first. The story behind your product matters, she says. If you buy a ring at Tiffany’s, you’ll pay $7,000 for a diamond that you could have gotten for $1,000 in the diamond district. The $6,000 difference is what you pay for the story—the cost of the iconic blue box, the lighting, the sales people, the architecture of the store and the feeling you get from being able to say you bought a ring at Tiffany’s.

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Of course, marketers must consider the metrics behind their campaigns, she says. But, the story is what will drive recommendations and brand loyalty. To craft Caterpillar’s story, Morrissey looked at the dozens of industries it serves around the world.

While these customers come from diverse cultures, there was something that bonded them together as a community: They are do-ers. “They go to work every day and make stuff,” she says. “They do work that matters.”

Then, Caterpillar looked at the brand and identified what defined the company’s “best self” to stand by the corporate missions of standing for progress and helping customers build a better world.

It also needed to identify what gets in the way of progress. “We live in an increasingly intangible world where ‘saying’ has become a substitute for actually doing something,” says Morrissey. “Our enemy is inaction. Caterpillar exists to triumph over inaction so our do-ers can make work happen.”

The whole is greater than its parts. Understand the individual parts of your brand story, but don’t overlook the power and elegance of the whole, she says. “In B2B, there’s a tendency to get super-granular, super-fast, because of the abundance of data,” she says.

Most customer segmentation is designed to find the differences, but if marketers cling to what is different, they’ll lose the ability to see the overarching mindsets that will help them tell stories with greater sense of purpose and humanity.

“Perception can drive knowledge,” says Morrissey. “I’m not suggesting the parts don’t matter, but before you act on the differences, find the unifying principles of the parts. People and customer segments are more alike than you might think.”


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