How Psychographics and Insight Selling Drive B2B Behavior

Marketing Predictions Guru Lisa VitaleIn the age of data, it’s easy to get swept away by metrics, KPIs, and the bottom line.  After all, these numbers are often fundamental to how we gauge our success.  Yet among these data points, many B2B marketers have lost sight of the emotional, human component that can really drive those numbers.  Great marketing hits the balance between data-informed strategy and tactics, and the creative, emotional punch that breaks through the noise to connect with your target audience right where it really counts to drive behavior – at the gut level.


While the brain’s neocortex controls rational, analytical thinking, as well as language, it’s the more primitive limbic system that drives emotions, motivation, and behavior.  In fact, the limbic system is often characterized as the “feeling and reacting brain.”  It follows that any marketing message, B2B or otherwise, that seeks to drive a behavior, must necessarily appeal to this more fundamental brain system.  In other words, B2B messages must appeal to the emotions, in addition to the traditional appeal focused on rationale and logic to “make the business case.”


It is precisely this emotional component on which psychographic segmentation is based.  Where demographics provide information on who buys your product or service, psychographics gets to the heart of why they buy your product.  Psychographics analyzes and categorizes target buyers according to psychological variables such as aspirations, fears, attitudes, and values – all key ingredients to glean the motivating and mitigating forces behind buying decisions.


A recent CEB/Google study strongly supports the use of just such an emotional and personal appeal, framed in an ‘insight selling’ approach, as a critical way to differentiate B2B offerings.  The study strongly demonstrates that, counter to conventional marketing wisdom, the B2B buying process is a highly emotional and personal one.  While branding and communicating business value are indeed vital to engaging prospects, as traditional B2B messaging best practices maintains, these components alone aren’t sufficient to create differentiation in the marketplace.  Rather, the key differentiating component most marketers are currently missing is an emotional one – the explicit communication of the personal value and benefits for the buyer who makes a decision in favor of your offering.


CEB Personal Value


Traditionally, creating emotional connections with customers has always been the purview of B2C marketers, whereas B2B marketers have catered to the rational and value-driven needs of level-headed buying committees focused on business benefits and outcomes.  Yet integral to that very process is the weighing of risk and reward, where key decision makers often place everything on the line, most notably their credibility and their job.  Consequently, B2B buying is, in actuality, highly personal and fraught with emotions – and much more so than B2C buying due to the level of personal risk involved.  Explicitly addressing this volatile, emotional component by reassuring prospects of the personal benefits your solution provides, renders your offering significantly more attractive.  In fact, the study found that “personal value has twice the impact of business value across a broad range of commercial outcomes.”


Specifically, appealing to personal values utilizes messaging which addresses aspects such as:

  • professional  benefits (being a better leader, simplifying my life)
  • social benefits (fitting in with colleagues, admiration from others)
  • Emotional benefits (confidence, excitement, happiness)
  • Self-image (doing good for society, feeling of accomplishment)


Taken together, psychographics informs the crafting of a personal, emotional appeal to pack a powerful marketing punch.  Yet this messaging can be rendered even more persuasive by framing the appeal in an insight selling approach.  Such an approach plays on a buyer’s sense of urgency, as well as their perception of risk, and how these can be leveraged to prompt a buying decision.


Viewed from this science-based perspective, marketing truly resides at the crossroads of art and science.  The science informs strategy and tactics, but the art is in the crafting of credible, relevant, rational, and unique messaging to resonate on a personal and emotional level.  The art is also in the framing of an offering, not as a “nice to have,” but rather as a necessary and wholly differentiated solution to your prospects’ most urgent needs.  In so doing, you’ll appeal to both the higher-reasoning neocortex and the behavior-triggering limbic system, smartly leveraging neuroscience in favor of your offering.


Read our case study to learn how Kronos, a SimplyDIRECT client, used prospect surveys to develop their own commercial insight approach for an industry segment.


About SimplyDIRECT:

SimplyDIRECT with its subsidiary Gatepoint Research designs, drafts and deploys opt-in, invitation-only surveys to management-level executives within leading technology companies. Using web, phone and email-based data collection, its cutting-edge IT trends research and data analysis helps in the generation of custom reports and thought-leadership content.