I was struck by this when I was pitching a website revamp project to a company in the satellite business. Some of competitors had great, emotional websites that told compelling stories about their technology; some were really mediocre.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking:
Emotion? Stories? In a business to business website?
Using puppies to market waste treatment equipment? Supermodels draped over supercomputers?
Emotion is for B2C marketing. B2C marketing is emotion. You aren’t buying a beer, or a car or an air freshener. You’re buying a babe / boy magnet. Peace and quiet at home. The fountain of youth. Or some kickass outdoor adventure.
B2B marketing is fact based and data driven. It’s engineers, doing rigorous side by side comparisons, using well defined purchasing criteria …
There is some truth to this. B2B customers are paid to gather information and make well informed, non-impulsive purchasing decisions. B2B websites need to help them do this.
Many B2B websites take the “product museum” approach: a picture of the “box”, surrounded by facts. No emotion, just the data. The problem is this overlooks what sales people know: People buy from people.
B2B customers’ decisions are heavily influenced by emotion: who they trust, who they like, who they want to work with, who looks like them. They make decisions using emotion and justify with facts afterwards
And back to website design: human brains are hardwired by evolution to respond to color, movement, animals and human faces. Our survival depended on being able to spot our fellow cavemen or a crouching lion.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are three B2B technology websites from leaders in their industries that tell a story visually.
Caterpillar. People and technology working together in challenging environments. I could write a book about this website.
Cisco Systems does something hard: it uses humor effectively.
The copy, layout and drama created by the similar but different side by side images. You could imagine these characters in a big bang spinoff.
Does this mean it’s easy to be the next Cisco Systems? No. But adding visual elements that tells a story about how your product or technology is used or makes a difference to customers makes your website powerful.