Using Psychographics with Role-based Targeting


Psychographic Segmentation Guru Lisa VitaleRecent research by CEB and Google (“From Promotion to Emotion,” October 2013*) on the role emotion plays in the B2B marketing process has returned some surprising and insightful results.  Counter to conventional B2B marketing wisdom, where branding and the communication of business value are vital to engaging prospects, study results strongly demonstrate that these components alone aren’t sufficient to create differentiation in the marketplace.


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.  As the research indicates, gathering psychographic information to gain a deep understanding of your prospect’s leadership attitudes, social values, and personal fears, motivations, and expectations with regards to their career, can pay significant dividends. 


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.”*


To appeal to personal values messaging should 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).


This research insight is invaluable for role-based targeting.  In identifying key decision-making roles and fleshing out their emotional components with psychographic information, the impact of initial messaging tailored personally for that prospect can be rendered much more powerful.  And to be clear, title-based targeting isn’t a sufficient proxy for role-based targeting – titles merely signify rank and vary significantly from one company to the next, whereas roles define function, responsibilities, as well as influence within the buying/decision-making process.  Roles will also tell you more about the individuals who occupy them, than simple titles will.


When account-based prospect surveys are used, in addition to the more traditional questions surrounding prospect challenges, questions can also be designed to both broaden and deepen psychographic intelligence.  For example, learning how risk-averse a prospect is reveals information regarding their decision-making process, such as the likelihood that a consensus committee decision will be required (the more averse, the greater the likelihood).  So, too, will you be able to infer the personal pressure which that prospect is shouldering with regards to the issue of risk.


Attitudes can be important indicators of price sensitivity.  Buyers who believe technology is a commodity will be far less likely to pay a premium for it.  High-growth business owners and successful senior managers are often interested in buying the best for their organizations, and focus heavily on competitive differentiation.  Marketers who target such buyers will need to clearly demonstrate such capabilities, including how their solution will garner personal respect.  The flip side is they will be able to charge premium prices.


CEB’s study suggests asking prospects open-ended questions* such as:

  • What is important to you as a [insert role]?
  • What is the most challenging/easy part of your day?
  • If you could eliminate one daily activity, what would it be?


In gathering precisely this type of psychographic information (i.e. attitudes, goals, beliefs, and emotions shaping prospect behavior, as well as the motivators behind tradeoff decisions), John Deere was able to successfully hone their brand value, product mix, and marketing strategy.  


SimplyDIRECT’s account-based survey services provide the means to engage directly with individual C-level executives and to better understand their business and emotional needs and challenges. Armed with this customer intelligence sales is better able to foster a personal relationship by helping prospects meet their needs.


To find out more about SimplyDIRECT’s approach please download our latest success story now by clicking on this link – IBM | Infor Case Study.