Lisa Vitale on Benefits of Psychographic Segmentation. While there are many ways to segment your target audience, B2C marketers are successfully using psychographic segmentation as a competitive advantage – but is there any value in this technique for the B2B marketer?
According to Miriam-Webster, psychographics is “market research or statistics classifying population groups according to psychological variables (as attitudes, values, or fears).”
For the B2C marketer, there is clear value in understanding their end-user’s interests, lifestyle, and values. But one could make the argument that there is limited value for the B2B marketer in gaining such knowledge. After all, businesses are entities, not individuals – and entities think differently, decide differently.
Yet consider the effect of corporate culture on decision-making processes… It’s probably a safe bet that the buying team at Life Is Good (or Apple?) is going to think and behave differently than the one at Ernst & Young. It’s a given that different corporations/corporate cultures attract different personalities. And herein lays the value of becoming familiar with the mindset of those different personalities within your prospective organizations.
Each individual on a buying committee can be counted on to always bring a few things to the buying and decision-making process; namely their personality, their perspective, and their biases. And all of these are shaped by their values. Surely then, there is considerable worth in ferreting these out. Gaining such insights will help you to uncover who these key decision-makers are as people and what motivates them, as well as what personality traits and biases will affect their purchasing behaviors and buying decisions.
With each decision in the buyer’s journey there is an emotional component – it might be referred to as a “gut feeling” or a decision that “feels good” or “right” – something that aligns closely with the decision maker’s values. Environmental impact will be important to some but not all buyers, for example. Understanding these emotional or psychographic traits provides key benefits, here are three key ones:
All things being equal competitively, providing the practical solution for your prospects, but also connecting with their values, arms you with an important relationship edge. Psychographics allow you to identify and tap into that emotional aspect, giving you the ability to leverage this knowledge and connect with your prospect on an emotional level. As such, you can market and sell to your prospect’s motivations, personality, and biases – by stressing green technology or social impact, for example. B2B buyers report that having a positive experience during the sales process is an important factor in the decision process.
Combing psychographic information with other variables, such as demographics, firmographics, etc., can provide you with other powerful data points. Cross-referencing such variables might reveal, for example, a strong correlation between adoption patterns and business or personality types. Marketing efforts can then be tailored to appeal to these identified traits, creating targeted messaging to engage prospects on that crucial emotional level. Furthermore, knowing which traits are associated with likely buyers, you can use such knowledge to better qualify leads and to better communicate the profile of your ideal buyers through more complete buyer personas.
Gaining psychographic intelligence helps place you squarely on your prospects’ path as they take their circuitous buyer’s journey around the ever-expanding web. In essence, psychographics gives you the knowledge to craft content that will resonate with your prospects, and through search, help them find you.
But there is no one-stop solution for acquiring such intel – you can’t buy it the same way you might purchase demographic information. Rather, you’ll need to launch your own investigation, which can be as simple as a well-conceived survey. And this is a good thing, as you’ll find your differentiating value here, tailored to your specific needs, as well as those of your prospects.
Properly done, psychographics can provide a distinct competitive advantage by placing you in the mindset of your prospect. From psychographic information, you can glean valuable insight into their personalities, including their values, their tendencies towards risk-aversion, and their preferred relationship style. Armed with this information, you can tailor a powerful, well-honed pitch aimed squarely at your target prospect.
If you use psychographic segmentation to aid B2B demand generation, what other benefits do you see?
*An interesting resource on psychographic segmentation is the 2009 study published in the Journal of Marketing Management, Business psychographics revisited: from segmentation theory to successful marketing practice. Free access available here: http://artweinstein.com/uploads/psychographicsjmm5-09.pdf