As this is the time when marketers often make predictions for the coming year, I think it’s a safe bet to say that in 2015 and beyond, emotion, empathy, and building meaningful connections will be significant competitive advantages for B2B marketing and sales professionals. To help make this more of a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, below are 21+ B2B marketing and sales professionals who are empowered by emotion. These are individuals you can not only learn from, but follow, and even connect with to enhance your own emotional appeals as well.
Why 21+ though? Because this list is just a start – there are far more excellent, empathetic marketers out there who empower and inspire others on a daily basis than can be listed by one person, so I invite you to add your own examples of outstanding individuals to the list in the comments below.
Jill Rowley: If you could only turn to one person for tips about social selling, especially in B2B, you’d probably want to pick Jill Rowley. Not only because she’s easily one of the most experienced and insightful professionals out there, but also because she has an exciting passion that hits home on an emotional level. In her post 10 Ways to Tell if You’re Doing Social Selling Wrong, for example, she not only emphasizes tactical tricks, but also personal considerations. You can follow Jill on Twitter via: @Jill_Rowley.
Joe Pulizzi: Joe is a known champion for content marketing tenets and best practices, but he also lets his emotions — like his passion for his hometown of Cleveland, for example — inform and enrich his work for the Content Marketing Institute. From always working his own excitement or enthusiasm into his writing, to proudly wearing orange wherever he goes, Joe stands out in B2B, not just for content marketing, but as someone who clearly cares about what he’s doing. You can follow Joe on Twitter via: @JoePulizzi.
Ann Handley: Quite literally the face of Marketing Profs, Ann is the kind of professional you always want to talk to – not just because she’ll make you a better writer or a better marketer if you listen to her, but also because she always seems to personally care about what you have to say as well. In B2B, connecting with buyers on a meaningful level often seems challenging, but Ann is a perfect example of how one caring, empathetic person can connect so many people to a brand in a meaningful way. You can follow Ann on Twitter via: @MarketingProfs.
Dave & Carrie Kerpen: If you still have any doubts about the power of emotional connections in business, you may want to consider the success of Likeable Media, a social media firm formed (without any exaggeration) out of the love between Dave and Carrie Kerpen. The short version of their story is that their brand-sponsored wedding inspired a highly viable business model (although, you may still want to read a more detailed version). Today, Dave and Carrie are both highly respected leaders in the social media space, and continue to help brands become that much more… well, likeable. You can follow Dave and Carrie on Twitter via: @DaveKerpen and @CarrieKerpen.
Josh Howard: Big Data, analytics and business intelligence aren’t topics generally associated with emotion, but Josh has a knack for turning that assumption on its head. Writing posts like Analytical Evangelists – Converting the Masses to the Religion of BI, Josh enriches his insights with excited and energetic perspectives. A bit of an “Analytical Evangelist” himself, Josh regularly creates and shares content on the value of BI, and is a visible leader across social media channels. You can follow Josh on Twitter via: @joshoward.
Lauren Harper: Managing a brand’s social media marketing efforts is not an easy task. On top of the standard business acumen, savvy and well respected social media professionals, like Lauren, have a bit of a gift for understanding their audiences and connecting with people in meaningful ways. As someone who walks the walk, it’s probably best to let Lauren’s own advice in a recent post speak for why she’s such a shining example, as she notes, “It’s important to build a network of people both internally and externally that you can lean on for help and expertise. Be empathetic to the people you’re connecting with whether they are friends, coworkers or customers. Honesty and transparency go a long way on social media.” You can follow Lauren on Twitter via: @LaurenEHarper.
Joselin Mane: As the voice and heart of @BostonTweetUp, a local promotional service for conferences, networking events, or other business gatherings, Joselin uses his passion for building meaningful connections between people and businesses to be a standout star in the Boston marketing scene. From sharing his secrets to hidden gem restaurants, to highlighting well-vetted industry best practices, Joselin engages his audience on a real, relatable, and often exciting level. You can follow Joselin on Twitter via: @JoselinMane.
Pam Moore: Being passionate or excited by something isn’t always easy – especially when other people, who may not fully understand your interest, might look at you like you’re nuts. Yet, to her credit and bravery, Pam Moore, also known as “The Marketing Nut” has not only embraced her passion for marketing, but proudly built her brand specifically on being a bit nutty. As her own success and influence shows, sometimes it’s best to embrace your quirks and passions and let them fuel and inform your marketing efforts. You can follow Pam on Twitter via: @Pammktgnut.
Marcus Sheridan: Having a window into a person’s values can often give you insight into the foundation for that person’s success. In his post, 10 Profound Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging, Marcus notes that “no success outside the home will compensate for failure within the home,” which is a pretty powerful idea, but especially when it’s underpinned by the fact that Marcus has become a highly successful and sought-after marketing and sales speaker – a role that easily could pull anyone away from his or her family. What Marcus’s example shows us is that it’s vital to have personal motivations and priorities that make us more human, relatable, and grounded in our professional endeavors. You can follow Marcus on Twitter via: @TheSalesLion.
Amanda Batista: Writing posts like 6 Tips from John Legend to Help Your Strategy “Get Lifted,” and Marketing Engagement Lessons from the B-52s, Amanda actively mixes her passion for music and her passion for marketing to make memorable, harmonious content. Despite the challenge of having to market to marketers, she digs into the things that people care about on a very human level in order to connect them to more professional best practices and opportunities. You can feel the life in her writing which is often why it performs so well across her marketing channels. You can follow Amanda on Twitter via: @AmandaF_Batista.
Jason A Miller: Another highly noteworthy music and marketing aficionado, Jason has become a rock star all his own in the B2B marketing space, and a big part of it is that his emotions only amplify his messages (even up to 11 at times). In Is it OK to Drop the F-Bomb During a Keynote, for example, Jason admits to letting an impassioned expletive slip during a presentation, but analyzes and explains the benefits of being so emotive – while still empathizing with audience members who were made a little uncomfortable by the language. Like his favorite music, Jason plays out his marketing best practices so loud you can’t help but feel it. You can follow Jason on Twitter via: @JasonMillerCA.
Samantha Stone: Authoring posts like 9 Surprisingly Easy Places to Humanize Content Any Marketer Can Master, Samantha digs into important topics to find and share the meaningful emotional elements beneath the marketing best practices. Through her writing, it’s easy to get a sense of not only why certain strategies or tactics work, but how they make your relationship with sales that much stronger, for example, or why your connection with your marketing will be further reinforced. Through Samantha’s focus on the emotional elements, she seamlessly elucidates on the more empirical factors as well – making you connect with what you’re learning. You can follow Samantha on Twitter via:@SamanthaStone.
Michael Brenner: To quote Michael in his post, Why I Bet My Career on Content Marketing, “In today’s always-on, hyper-connected world, the only option for brands to connect with their audiences is to create, publish and share stories people love.” What makes Michael’s point so impactful, though, and why he’s on this list isn’t because it’s a takeaway to the tune of “All You Need is Love,” but because it’s a prioritization of emotion in marketing. Creating stories that people love isn’t remotely easy, but as someone who actively digs into what matters to his audience, and who is always willing to appreciate any support he gets along the way, Michael excels by enriching his content with emotion. You can follow Michael on Twitter via: @BrennerMichael.
Laura Fitton: From authoring Twitter for Dummies, to championing inbound marketing, Laura is a marketing professional known for knowing her stuff. How she shares her knowledge, though, isn’t in dry, academic, matter-of-fact tones, but in excited, impassioned flurries of information. In her slide deck How to Find and Stop the 7 Growth Killing Ghouls of the #Funnelpocalypse, for example, she takes her depth of marketing knowledge, particularly about driving growth, and turns it into a frighteningly fun, monster-filled marketing resource. You can follow Laura on Twitter via: @Pistachio
Ted Rubin: As the author of Return on Relationship (ROR), and a champion of the concept, Ted Rubin strongly believes in the value of using marketing to build meaningful relationships. His point, which actually underpins the whole value in this very list is that “ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.” Beyond simple transactional interactions, however, Ted regularly emphasizes how important it is for businesses to actively listen, care about, and be involved in the things that matter to their target audiences. You can follow Ted on Twitter via: @TedRubin
Lisa Petrilli: You don’t typically expect introverts to be overly expressive with their emotions, which is why Lisa Petrilli’s work in writing The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership is so powerful. Despite being in such a seemingly extroverted sphere like marketing, Lisa has rallied around who she is, and has inspired many introverted marketers (myself included) to believe that it’s not only ok to be an introvert, but at times, it can be an advantage in business. By creating such a fundamental feeling of comradery, Lisa has built a highly engaged and connected audience, which only further reinforces her abilities as a marketer. You can follow Lisa on Twitter via: @LisaPetrilli.
Tim Washer: Tim is a comedic professional and a professional comedian – that is, he often incorporates humor into his work as a B2B marketer, while also acting in comedy shows like Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and even Saturday Night Live. Tim’s success, however, hasn’t come from segmenting these two aspects of his personality, but by joining them together. Tim’s work, particularly in B2B tech, often stands out as uniquely powerful and enjoyable because of distinct emotional appeals to his audiences’ funny bones. One of the best examples of Tim’s work is his Valentine’s Day promo for an enterprise-grade network router, which has served as both a compelling piece of marketing content, and a generally funny and enjoyable video. You can follow Tim on Twitter via: @TimWasher.
Jill Konrath: Jill has an eye for digging in to the emotional elements behind effective B2B selling. Writing posts like The Hidden Power of Gratitude in Driving Sales, Jill is often unafraid of pairing her own personal perspectives with her in-depth professional insights. Even when calling out practitioners of B2B sales worst practices, Jill maintains an empathetic and understanding tone which allows even the worst offenders to feel comfortable in considering her takeaways. You can follow Jill on Twitter via: @JillKonrath.
Jay Acunzo: Tackling topics like accountability for quality in content marketing head-on, Jay doesn’t mince words when he feels something is amiss or off the mark. It may seem easy to hide behind business-as-usual in B2B, but Jay is a great example of how taking a stand, or even multiple stands, can earn the right kind of attention and awareness. You can follow Jay on Twitter via: @Jay_Zo
Maribeth Ross: Objectively speaking – even though she is our Chief Content Officer here at Aberdeen – Maribeth is an extremely emotive and considerate content creator. From likening content marketing worst practices to toothpaste worst practices (never squeeze the middle of the funnel or the tube), to publicly highlighting what she appreciates about her team, Maribeth regularly pairs research-backed best practices with personality-filled insights. You can follow Maribeth on Twitter via: @MaribethRoss
Doug Kessler: From the content he creates alone, you can tell Doug brings a lot of emotion, empathy, and consideration into his work in B2B marketing. Nowhere is this more evident, though, than in his popular slide deck, featured below, The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing. Generating over 67,000 views, Doug’s deck translates his own evaluation of B2B marketing into a relatable validation for countless other marketers who may feel B2B lacks the kind of rewarding glamor or fulfilling altruism that other spheres may offer. You can follow Doug on Twitter via: @DougKessler.
The list, however, doesn’t have to stop here. Please add your own examples of effectively emotive marketing and sales professionals in the comments below.
For more on marketing best practices, especially for content marketing, download Aberdeen’s free report: 5 Habits of Highly Effective Content Marketers.