Study: 'Confident Optimism' Fuels Business Growth

Despite all the buzz about big data, a new study asserts that emotions drive business decisions

In the Digital Age, most marketing programs are supposed to be driven by data. A new study published today, however, reminds marketers that most business decisions are, in fact, driven by something else entirely: emotions.

Produced by the Financial Times Commercial Insight Group in partnership with business-to-business advertising agency gyro, the study -- "The Business Feeling Index: The Feelings That Move Business Forward" -- is based on a survey of 315 Financial Times readers from around the globe, each of whom was asked to describe what feelings are crucial for creating successful business relationships.

The most powerful feeling in today's business climate, survey respondents agreed, is that of "confident optimism."

According to gyro and the Financial Times, when a company feels confident optimism with respect to a business partner, it suggests that it is "assured of [that] company's expertise" and also feels "a strong sense of optimism about what this partner can do for their business."

The study's authors identified five "builders" of confident optimism and three "killers" of it. The builders, they said, are:

• Content: Seventy percent of respondents said thought leadership is the most important element they look for when researching prospective business partners. 

• Culture: Eighty-three percent of respondents said company culture is among the most important attributes in selecting a partner.

• Crisis Management: Eighty-six percent of respondents said the first moment of friction in a relationship is where partners reveal their true nature. Successful handling of the crisis, they said, leads to a stronger relationship.

• Communication: More than three-quarters of respondents strongly agreed that communication is the connective tissue of a business relationship.

• Concluding Strongly: Sixty-five percent of respondents said they want to walk away from relationships feeling accomplished.

The killers, meanwhile, are:

• Uncertainty: Seventy-seven percent of respondents said the feeling of uncertainty has the most negative impact on their business relationships.

• Overpromising: Respondents cited as drivers of uncertainty overpromising (69 percent), poor communication (60 percent), and lack of transparency (53 percent).

• Arrogance: Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they are turned off by arrogance when researching potential partners. Another 61 percent said they are turned off by pushiness.

"The reasons behind the choices we make aren't easily measured. Real people are tribal and emotional," said gyro CEO and CCO Christoph Becker. "There is much to learn from the honest responses that Financial Times readers shared with us. But one fact is certain: Now, more than ever, marketers must focus on what their customers and prospects are feeling and deliver in a way that makes them feel both confident and optimistic. Human relevance in marketing has never been more valid and more necessary."

"The Business Feeling Index: The Feelings That Move Business Forward" is available for download from gyro's website.