Those who reward shall be rewarded
Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer and Daniel Szkutnik about unimagined possibilities in B2B brand communication
He is successful in both worlds: Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer, Founder and Managing Director of trio-group, headquartered in Mannheim, Germany, one of the largest owner-managed communications agencies in Germany. The 52-year-old knows about brand work in the consumer market as well as in B2B. His practical experience is substantiated by numerous scientific findings: Not only in some market segments in the consumer sector, but also in the B2B business, the emotional component of brand management is missing. That is why Kütemeyer has developed a new working method with a wealth of scientific expertise: brandsync – The synchronization of brand, human and media. brandsync combines more than 20 years of practical experience with corporations and medium-sized companies as well as the latest research results from neurosciences and cognitive sciences. Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer and project manager Daniel Szkutnik explain what these studies have to do with B2B and the autopilot in your head.
Herr Dr. Kütemeyer, you encourage a stronger emotionally charged communications in B2B. Are emotions not completely out of place here?
Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer: “We deal with emotions anytime and anywhere. Consequently, there is no business without emotions. And consequently, there is also no target group, whether in B2C or B2B, without an emotional point of view. Only those who are able to embed brand performance promises, brand positioning and brand staging in the context of subconscious-emotional worlds of thought and values create the basis for lasting brand success.”
That sounds like the principle "more brand". It has long since moved into the B2B area ...
Kütemeyer: Yes, that's true, but that's not all of it. To restrict the brand only to the well-known rational brand values such as quality or innovation, combine everything with a coherent design and then to decline it over all market contact points, does not work in B2B any longer. The challenges have become more complex: new market contacts have been added in recent years. How does one best deal with the different perceptions of the defined brand messages at the individual market contact points? And how can the brand contact points be evaluated and weighted in relation to their emotional significance in the mixture of communication? The industry knows about these questions - it is much more advanced than many agencies and tries to integrate the latest findings of marketing research into their work. And these findings have recently come mostly from neuroscience and cognitive sciences.
What does this mean?
Kütemeyer: It is crucial to focus on the emotional thinking of the brand ambassadors as well as those of the target groups. A brand strategy based on these findings is more fascinating, comprehensible and tangible . And it creates a unified brand understanding across all market contact points, which can not be achieved with the 'more brand' mantra alone. Many brand managers are aware of this, but they have not been able to implement this knowledge so far.“
Why do we need neuro and cognitive sciences for this?
Szkutnik: Science helps us understand and optimize brand communication in terms of emotional drivers more profoundly - so not from a purely rational, mostly technically oriented perspective. The more of brand emotionality begins in your own company, with the question: If the brand message is emotionally tangible and unified, it can be experienced in a uniform way by everyone involved in the brand process? Only if a brand positioning is coherent in this way, it can be enacted confidentially via all communication channels to the customer. If there are issues in emotional brand positioning between the marketing, development, and sales, or if - what happens pretty often - there are strong differences, the best brand strategy can only partially develop to its full potential.
What do sales and the product development have to do with brand positioning?
Kütemeyer: Of course, these two important business units are relevant to the brand process. Either they have developed the products themselves and know them down to the last detail, or they have to sell them in a personal conversation and thus include the customers views as well. Even here, we often experience very different brand understandings in B2B. Fact is: One of the most important brand contact points in B2B is sales.
Who will determine the success of a corporate brand in the future in view of the rapid development in the digital field: Marketing or Sales?
Kütemeyer: Especially in medium-sized companies, we always encounter the same opinion: sales knows the customer and is responsible for success. The marketing costs money and 'only' makes the brand known as well as markets documents. The brandstory is interpreted by sales representatives as they personally consider them to be correct and how they can 'sell' them the easiest. In short: Different people have a different view of their own brand. That is why our theme of brand synchronization is so important: A basis for brand success is the same perception of the emotional brand story . Sales and marketing must combine their know-how. We have also developed the brandsync method for this: we bring the emotional brand perceptions of all responsible persons in the company on the same level.“
What scientific foundation is brandsync based on?
Szkutnik: Economics has taught us about Homo oeconomicus. Now it went a step further and is teaching us about the Homo neurobiologicus: in 80 to 95% of cases, the emotional component is the decision-maker. This means nothing more than positive and negative brand experiences influence and control our actions. Emotional decisions pay into our reward account and give us a satisfying feeling, subconsciously. And this also applies to the purportedly rational purchasing-decision-making and customer-defined purchasing decisions.
Buyers and emotion- it only happens after closing time ...
Kütemeyer: Unfortunately, many marketing and sales representatives think exactly that. However, our experience and the latest findings in cognitive- and neurosciences evidence, that even highly complex product or brand decisions are always made on an emotional basis. Who hasn ́t been in the situation of coming out behind the competitor, despite offering a superior product and a better price? Is there a rational reason for this, or have the subconscious, emotional decisions of the customer broken through the well-calibrated benefit argument? Several studies have proven the massive emotional influence in buyer decisions, e.g. Hänel 2010: even in buying centers, where one would assume that emotions do not really play a role at all.
Szkutnik: What you have to know: Thinking, even for the buyer, is divided into two systems according to the behavior economist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemann: on one hand, the conscious, explicit and on the other the subconscious, implicit side. In other words: Pilot and Autopilot. Autopilot works perfectly emotional, it is the filter that helps us perceive our environment, and thus, the filter for our decisions. The autopilot in us is looking for information to which its reward system reacts emotionally. An emotional brand strategy, as defined and implemented with brandsync, must therefore begin to align brand strategies and messages with the reward systems. In short: Those who reward get rewarded.
How does brandsync work?
Kütemeyer: Brandsync is a unique working method for emotional brand management, in which we can incorporate insights into the neuro- and cognitive sciences, as well as our entire experience from more than 20 years of brand communication in an interdisciplinary approach. The method combines conventional marketing methods with different scientific models, including the Zurich model of social motivation with the specific emotions and motivational expressions. This model distinguishes between the three major emotions, autonomy, security and excitement, from which different typologies with their values can be derived. These scientific approaches form the basis of brandsync.
What is the result of the brand synchronization process?
Szkutnik: We go about it in steps. In the first step, our customers learn more about their own emotional thinking with their own world of values and their personal reward types . The second step involves the reward types of the others, i.e. target groups, who also participate in an implicit level. And, by the way, as a matter of experience, very happily, because the knowledge gained is also very substantial for participants. This gives us a strong foundation on which we can build a brand profile, combined with rational brand analysis models. The result is the SyncProfile, which finds expression in brand promise and positioning, as well as in brand production.
Isn´t this the same as in B2C?
Kütemeyer: Not quite. In B2B, it is crucial that we do not target brand positioning according to target group clusters: We must always know that our target groups or purchasing committees do not have a unified mindset to which we can align our emotional brand strategy. Brandsync enables staging of brand positioning differently, ie to adapt to the emotional mindsets of the target groups. The decisive factor here is to not abandon unambiguous brand positioning. The simple decline of a campaign motif across all market contact points, which is unfortunately still exhausted often today, has been a thing of the past.