NPR recently broadcast an interview with Rob Walker on the Diane Rehm Show, which provides a good overview the current state of marketing. While the focus was primarily B2C, there are certainly implications for all sectors: with the abundance of choice in every industry, buyers are turning to their emotions to help them make decisions. People are identifying with what they buy as a reflection of who they are. Consider the 2007 study reporting the majority of people who buy Prius hybrids do so because it sends a message that they are green, rather than to specifically produce fewer emissions or get better gas mileage.
Since businesspeople are human too, factors beyond numbers contribute to B2B buying. Think about the strong messages that are sent when companies make culture decisions—when a tech start-up dumps their in-house PCs to go all-Mac, when a firm switches to a 4-day workweek, or when an outdoorsy entrepreneur installs a climbing wall in the break room? There are innumerable businesses in any industry providing “quality services”, connecting with your clients on another level entirely can make their buying decision easier.