I was recently interviewed by B2B Marketing magazine regarding different ways marketers can utilize psychology to influence their customers’ buyer behavior. Below is the interview, and you can read the final article here.
We like to think of ourselves as rational human beings, but the research shows that the majority of our decisions are based on emotion. (Some even say at least 80% of our decisions are based on emotion.) So in order to influence our customers’ B2B buyer behavior, we have to appeal to that emotion.
How do you create that emotional attachment?
One way is to show how what you are saying has personal relevance to the prospect/customer. Showing them that what you have to say is personally relevant will make them cognitively elaborate on the issue further; and the key to finding out what is personally relevant to your target audience is found through research (both primary and secondary research). A great tool that helps with relaying that research into actionable information is a B2B buyer persona.
Is it right to appeal to someone’s subconscious?
Chances are we are appealing to someone’s subconscious – whether we try to or not.
What should you say/avoid saying in your marketing communication?
As I stated earlier, you have to make your information personally relevant to your target audience. So research what those factors of personal relevance may be. Buyer personas help you to think about all these different variables that go into your prospect’s idea of personal relevance (i.e. personal motivations, professional motivations, industry trends, etc.) as well as how to translate all that data into ideas that need to be included in your marketing communication.
How should you use images?
Since emotion is so much a part of our decision making, always try and use visual imagery that may excite or motivate a person to cognitively elaborate on your issue. Maybe it is a picture showing a constant struggle s/he may have, with you being the solution? And again, by tying in that personal relevance you have a greater chance of breaking through the clutter. (And at this point I don’t just mean media clutter – but all the information that we are confronted with on a daily basis.)
What colors should be used/avoided and when and why?
Colors are an interesting issue, because research shows they can influence our behavior and emotions. When choosing colors, other than just relying on straight research (such as blue can cause a person to feel calm), I would argue to try to incorporate colors that may reflect the idea you are trying to get across. You want all of your marketing factors – color, imagery, messaging – to all be directing the user to the same idea (albeit from different angles).
Should B2B marketers even be concerned with this? Isn’t B2B just about logical and rational thinking? Do buyers make an emotional connection, knowingly or otherwise?
If you ask most people why they made a decision, they may like to think it was because they were acting rationally. But the truth of the matter is, research often shows differently. We act out of emotion, and with all the choices available to us – many of which with similar offerings – at the end of the day that emotion may be the only deciding factor. So yes – B2B marketers should definitely be concerned with this idea of emotion.
At what stage in the buying cycle should B2B marketers be looking to influence behavior using psychology? Is it just reserved for early engagement?
One of the most frustrating things about human beings is that our opinion is open to change at any time. So though I may believe one thing one day – that belief may become obsolete the following day. So B2B marketers need to be looking at buyer behavior (and the psychology and sociology that influences that behavior) from beginning to end of the buying cycle – and beyond it in order to retain the customer.