What can Dell teach us about B2B copywriting? A lot, as we’ll soon see — in this article, we’ll examine their report, Realizing 2030: The Future of Work.
And we’ll find out how they secretly leverage emotion to make a persuasive B2B sales argument.
Isn’t B2B copywriting supposed to persuade with logic … not emotion?
It depends on who you ask.
Marketing mastermind Ryan Deiss doesn’t like to distinguish between B2B and B2C marketing.
Instead, he prefers H2H — human-to-human.
Perhaps he likes this term because he understands a fundamental truth about direct response marketing…
Logic vs. Emotion in Direct Response Copywriting
Direct response copywriters know that humans behave irrationally and emotionally — then justify that behavior with logic.
After the fact.
In direct response, this is formulated along these lines: “Humans buy on emotion and justify their purchase decision based on logic.”
That truth, which has been scientifically proven, by the way, is far more universal than most copywriters realize.
It can be applied to all human behavior, including supposedly “logical” or “data-driven” arenas.
Or B2B copywriting.
Below, we’ll look at the aforementioned report to discover how both logic and emotion are woven together to make the sale.
The Lizard Brain Does the Buying, Not the Logical Mind
As direct response copywriters know, emotional copywriting aims to trigger readers’ emotions.
Push the right emotional buttons and people will buy.
However, humans need to rationalize their purchase decision.
Otherwise, the logical mind will keep people from making the purchase.
Or buyer’s remorse will kick in after the fact and people will return the product.
But the core thrust of any direct response piece is emotional.
- A woman buys weight loss products because she wants to look thinner than all her friends
- A husband feels inadequate because he can’t afford certain things for his family — and this emotion pushes him to buy investment products
- Another man was bullied in high school, and hates feeling insecure and weak — which is why he buys self-defense products
And so on.
Every promotion piece attached to these types of products will have a logical component, guaranteed.
But copywriters know that the logic is just icing on the cake…
It’s the lizard brain that does the buying.
Is B2B Copywriting Driven by Logic … Or Emotion?
In recent posts, I explored the relationship between emotion and futurism.
Especially as it relates to topics like job automation and upskilling.
Last week, I came across a report by Dell that really highlighted how futurism is driven by emotion, not logic.
More importantly, though, this well-written marketing piece demonstrates how emotion can actually drive B2B copywriting.
And it does so by tapping into the very same emotions that futurists tap into when peddling their predictions.
Here is my breakdown:
Stage 1: Attention — Evolution towards a machine-human partnership.
Persuasive documents all follow the same general structure:
- Get attention and arouse interest
- Focus on the problem
- Focus on the solution
- Call to action
In this section, Dell draws attention to a vision of the future where humans “partner” with machines.
Yet business leaders disagree about what this means for them…
While 50% felt that automation would free up their time, 50% did not.
And while 4 out of 10 believe they’ll have more free time thanks to intelligent machinery, 6 in 10 do not.
Opinions were also divided about whether:
- Healthcare devices will help people take better care of themselves
- People will manage and absorb information in different ways
- Smart machines will work as “admins” in our lives
- It will be harder to “disconnect” from technology
- We’ll be more productive by collaborating more
And so on.
The report made the observation that these two viewpoints are fueled by emotion:
There tends to be two extreme perspectives about the future: the anxiety-driven issue of human obsolescence or the optimistic view that technology will solve our greatest social problems.
This stark polarity demonstrates that people believe what their emotions tell them to believe.
However, business leaders did agree on one important thing:
More than eight in ten (82 percent) leaders expect humans and machines will work as integrated teams within their organization inside of five years.
And this leads us into the next section…
Stage 2: The Need –“Businesses are united in the need for digital transformation.”
After addressing the uncertainty about the future, we are introduced to the need.
That is, regardless of their outlook on the future, businesses feel an urgent need to change.
And this urgency, or anxiety, is exactly the emotional button being pushed by this report.
- 85% say R&D will drive their organization forward
- 81% will be using AI to pre-empt customer demands
- 80% will be delivering hyper-connected customer experiences with VR
Now that we have defined the need, Dell invites us to explore the problem and solution in greater depth.
Stage 3: The Problem and Solution — “Big changes are ahead … but not everyone’s prepared.”
More statistics deepen the perceived problem … businesses aren’t ready for the digital future:
- 85% of jobs in 2030 don’t exist yet
- 84% of leaders expect all of their employees to be digital experts
- 61% of businesses lack a strong digital vision and strategy
- 38% are struggling to change their workforce
Although this report is rife with data, I’d argue that Dell’s report does an excellent job of using both logic and emotion.
Namely, we have:
- The idea that humans and machines must become “partners”
- An uncertain future and a subtle sense of anxiety — in a world of intelligent machines, where do humans fit in?
- An urgent need to undergo digital transformation
- The problem that businesses aren’t prepared — which would leave them at the mercy of the uncertain future
Then the report skillfully ends on a hopeful note, with a crossroads close and the solution…
We’re entering a new dawn, with immense possibility on the horizon – unlike we’ve ever seen before. Businesses can either grasp the mantle, transform their IT, workforce and security, and play a defining role in the future or be left behind.
…which is then followed by a call-to-action.
Conclusion: B2B Copywriting Still Uses Emotion
I’ve mentioned before that B2B persuades with logic.
And it’s clear that this report is very logical.
However, we can also see that it subtly and effectively pushes emotional buttons throughout.
In this case, emotions such as anxiety, fear, and hope.
One could even argue that the emotional argument came first…
And that the data was crafted to fit that argument.
Such an approach, after all, is standard operating procedure for persuasive copywriting…
Because copywriters know that emotions drive action, not logic.