The seven erogenous zones of B2B buyers

Whether you’re a pirate, a prostitute, or a priest, everything we do is based on emotion, and satisfying an emotional need.

steve ballantyne idealog erogenous zones b2b marketingYet emotion isn’t a word you hear much in B2B marketing. There’s a pervasive misconception that as soon as a bad tie is around your neck and you’re sitting in a cubicle, you become an emotionless zombie. And that’s why so much B2B advertising sucks – to put it politely.

The vast majority of B2B communications treat business buyers like emotionally-void automatons. It’s logical, rational, and incredibly dry. And when it doesn’t work - as inevitably it doesn’t - the marketing team blames the agency, and the agency blames the brief, budget, or economy.

The few agencies that understand emotion is critical to the buying process usually apply the same emotional drivers that attract consumers. But business buyers have added pressures, bureaucracy to battle, bosses to answer to, salaries to defend and results to produce.

There are seven main emotions that drive business buyers. Tap into these erogenous zones, hook your buyers with a compelling argument and create some refreshingly effective B2B advertising.  

Although I’ve referred to buyers here as “he”, it’s not to say female buyers don’t have erogenous zones too. Or so I’ve heard.


Safety may not seem arousing. But in this economic climate, job security is a precious jewel. This buyer craves trust and reassurance. He wants to make an adequate purchase and maintain the status quo.


He’s not the most passionate of buyers. Maybe he’s busy, or maybe there are just other things he’d rather be doing (er, Facebook?). What does turn him on, is the path of least resistance. Simple and painless, please.


He purchases to impress. Career-driven and hungry for success, he’s likely an early adopter and risk taker. He’s attracted to the offer with potential to propel him up the corporate ladder.


Call him an idealist, but this buyer really does want to make a difference. He takes pride in his work, and suffers an innate desire to be a good guy and make the right decision. If your offer is overtly ethical or eco-friendly, even better.


This buyer’s motivated by any financial perks and kickbacks he can accrue for himself. While not the most flattering attribute, it’s a common human trait, which is why personal incentives work so well - particularly in conjunction with a solid offer to ease the conscience.


He likes the people he’s buying for, and has their best interests at heart.He’s driven by the desire to please them, and make their lives easier. This buyer's satisfied when his colleagues are.


Rapport between buyer and salesman often overrides other features of the purchase. A likeable salesman can be a bigger factor than many realise, while a salesman that appears insincere or cold can have the best product at the best price to no avail.

Steve Ballantyne is a B2B marketing specialist and managing director of BallantyneTaylor. Email him at

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