The Elaboration Likelihood Model states that our success in persuading someone rests in their ability to elaborate on the issue at hand; so, to put this into B2B marketing terms, we will have a greater chance of motivating our customers to buy if we can encourage them to elaborate on our product or service. I’ve talked about personal relevance and prior knowledge as factors affecting ones motivation to elaborate on a given topic, but need for cognition is another that has relevance in B2B marketing, and is thus worthy of discussion.
Need for cognition is the idea that people who naturally enjoy thinking will elaborate on something more than those who do not. This is pretty basic but, when the issue of distraction comes into play, it’s implications in B2B marketing are quite significant. Scientific research suggests that if people have a high need for cognition, distractions may negatively affect their elaboration process. In other words, if you are targeting a group that has a high need for cognition, then minimizing distractions (i.e., any distracting stimuli accompanying your message) may further that group’s ability to elaborate on your product or service.
To give you an example, when creating a B2B marketing campaign for the in-flight phone system Forté, we knew we were targeting avionics dealers, who are an intelligent and technical group of individuals. Thus, we made our visuals creative, clean and non-distracting, with our key message as the focal point. (As an aside, our message surrounded the products price, which, after performing qualitative research on our target audience, we determined was it’s top selling feature, so always remember to do your research as well!) Not only was the campaign a success, it received enthusiastic praise from a top executive at one of the largest avionics dealers in the country.
So, how can you use this information in your own B2B marketing campaigns? Well, for starters, you have to do your research and know your target audience, then use that information any way you can. It is also interesting to note that if you are targeting a group with a low need for cognition, distractions may help get their attention and cause them to elaborate; so, again, know as much about the group you are targeting as possible so you can effectively layout your creative and messaging accordingly. B2B marketing is so much more than pretty pictures it’s strategy; and by incorporating scientific research into your strategy, you may have a better chance of success.