Editor’s Note: It’s time for B2B brands to focus on love, not just loyalty

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If love is the outcome, could you please rework the feature set?

I hope the great comedian Lily Tomlin doesn’t mind me adapting one of her most famous lines, especially when I could have just echoed Tina Turner instead. When you’re marketing a B2B brand, what’s love got to do with it? Most of the time, no matter what kind of creative or campaign is developed, the promised outcomes are usually the familiar suspects: productivity, efficiency, lowered cost and, increasingly, deeper insight. Dig a bit deeper, though, and the yearning for love is usually there.

Think about how much longer it takes to make a B2B sale in many cases. We’re talking months or years. A consumer may “love” a particular brand of jeans, but you could argue those brands don’t need to establish the kind of in-depth, long-term relationship as an enterprise software maker does with a CIO. Why else would firms be investing in CRM, or begin taking an account-based marketing approach to find their most likely matches?

We’re calling May “The Love Issue” because I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting ways in which companies in areas like customer service are using technologies like artificial intelligence to get to know their customers better, all with a goal to build greater retention. It may more professional to talk about customer loyalty than love in this context, but there’s no denying the emotional undercurrent beneath any major B2B brand and its adherents. We are constantly told that, despite the rise of chatbots and B2B e-commerce, people want to buy from people — and they’re not going to buy from people they hate.

My sense of love in the enterprise expanded this week when I hosted a two-day summit on blockchain for business leaders. We didn’t focus on cryptocurrency so much as how private distributed ledger technology could bring new of increased value in all kinds of markets. There were certainly some areas of dispute, particularly around regulation and security, but everyone seemed to agree on a few key things: blockchain is not for everyone, and that it really comes down to the weak links in more traditional business relationships where there is a lack of trust.

Blockchain, in fact, has been called a trust protocol. I’d also point out that it’s a stepping stone to love.

Trust allows a relationship to deepen by exchanging more information, sharing more experiences and learning more about each other.

Blockchain may connect disparate members of a business network in a relatively anonymized way, but it holds the potential, at least, to create most trusted exchanges of things organizations value.

Will that lead to better relationships between those who run and participate in a blockchain, similar to the way other technologies positively reinforce the brand perception of some enterprises who use them? It may take more time to figure that one out, but that’s part of what makes working in B2B so complex and fulfilling. Gotta love it.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.