As a behavioral scientist, I am constantly looking at what we can do as B2B marketers to influence our customers’ buying behavior; thus, when my colleague Kelly Pires forwarded me this interesting article about marketing to different genders in B2B, I knew I had to check it out. Titled “B2B Marketing to Men vs. Women,” the article told of how a business products company performed a test to see which of the following two offers would work best on their 75 percent female target audience: free shipping, or a certificate for a free box of chocolates. Upon analysis, they found that the women responded to the chocolate in overwhelming numbers. So with this week’s blog, I’d like to examine this case study through a theoretical lens to show how the scientific research that explains their findings can be used to further your own B2B marketing efforts.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) states that our success in persuading someone lies in their ability to elaborate on the issue at hand. There are several factors that can motivate a person to engage in elaboration, and one such factor is personal relevance. In other words, if you can appeal to people with something that is personally relevant to them, it will motivate them to elaborate on the issue further, rather than either moving along or deciding to come back later (both of which usually have the same result — a lost sale).
So, in applying ELM to B2B marketing, the key is finding out what you can do to motivate your target audience to elaborate on your product or service. In the case study, the answer was chocolate — but you cannot assume that will be the answer for your target audience. In fact, to be effective, you cannot assume you know the answer at all. As the name suggests, the factor is what is personally relevant to your customer; so in order to find that out, you must talk to your target audience. (See my blog regarding Sense-Making Theory for tips on how to do this.)
It also must be noted that the majority of men chose the free shipping offer; so what may be personally relevant to one group may not be apply to another. Use this to think about how you might be able to break down your target audience in order to develop messaging or offers that are more personally relevant for each group. And though this article was just between the two groups of male and female, there are many other ways to break down your target audience, such as age, physical location, job position, etc.; so think about it — and be sure and document these accordingly in your CRM system so you can generate the respective lists as needed.
With the continual partial attention that your target audience exhibits, you often have just one brief second to make your mark. So use what ELM has taught us, find what is personally relevant to your prospects and incorporate that into your B2B marketing strategy. Only then can you break through the clutter and motivate them to buy.