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At Kayako, we wanted to burn down the existing concept of customer service software that was focused on ‘tickets’ and ‘departments’ using the all-too-often emotional experience of being treated like a ticket number, and getting passed around from pillar to post between teams.

We all know what that feels like, and we used this emotional enemy – a concept that our audience had experienced, could believe, and can rally against – to our advantage. 

At the same time, we talked about how better customer service is not just a nice concept, but it’s good for business: improving your service builds loyalty, leading to repeat orders, and more word of mouth referrals that grow your business. This is the economic incentive that aligned with our audience: raising customer service from a cost-center to a profit-center.

See this framework in action

Hubspot: inbound marketing

Hubspot popularized inbound marketing. Display advertising, PPC, and tradeshows weren’t working as well as they did, but deep down, in our hearts, it’s not the way we want to win customers. We want customers to find our company organically and to like us so much they buy our product or service – we don’t want to spam them with hard sale messages or trick them into a purchase. The “old way” was an emotional enemy that passionate marketers and CEOs wanted to kill.

The inevitable upside – growing your business with more traffic and more leads that drive more sales with this new inbound marketing concept – is the economic incentive. Who’s going to say no to more sales?

Drift: forms suck

Drift has a similar story. Why on earth are we gating content, when we want people to actually read it? The emotional enemy is the form: we’ve all closed a page that asks us to complete a ten-field form before getting a one-page PDF. Is that the way we really want to treat our potential customers? Is that how we would want to be treated?

The economic incentive? “Connect your sales teams to future customers, now.” It aligns with their audience of marketers, sales leads, and CEO on the economic level against their incentives: more conversations equals more opportunities, which leads to higher (and faster!) revenue growth.

Further reading

This isn’t a new concept; the use of an enemy in company narrative has been popularized by Andy Raskin, like this great nugget of advice:

One of the most powerful ways to turn prospects into aspiring heroes is to pit them against an antagonist. … Naming your customer’s enemy differentiates you — not directly in relation to competitors (which comes off as “salesy”), but in relation to the old world that your competitors represent.

Andy Raskin

Sales conversations no longer stall on ‘what and how’, but move faster because the ‘why’ is more personal at both economic and emotional levels. Assigning an emotional enemy creates positive affinity and removes objections, while the economic pull creates urgency and helps build a rational business case.

3 Replies to “Motivate buyers with a heart and brain narrative”

  1. […] You need to give your buyers a villain to turn against, just as much as you need to give them a rational economic incentive. I call this a heart and brain narrative. […]

  2. […] sure your positioning and messaging has both logical and emotional aspects. I call this a heart and brain narrative. If you can, give your buyers an economic incentive… and an emotional […]

  3. […] to merge all of these bits together with a rational and a logical narrative or what I call the heart and brain narrative. The rational brain recognizes the cost savings, the ROI, the cold hard business impact. And then […]

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