The Psychology Behind a B2B Marketing Plan

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Just because we’re business-to-business doesn’t mean we have to engage with one another like machines. Behind a business are (news flash!) humans. Still, how we communicate with prospects and customers should be different than the B2C marketing approach.

How come?

The Purpose of the Purchase

The key difference between B2B and B2C is all about the purpose of the purchase. In B2C, you’re talking to someone who is typically buying something for themselves, be it a pair of shoes, a new mattress, or a donation in honor of a family member. In B2B, you’re still talking to a person, but they’re buying for their business. This requires a much different purchasing—and psychological—experience.

I dare you all to get out of your templates, canned responses, and business casual attire, and adapt a more human approach to B2B that still maintains professionalism and positions yourself as an expert.

Here are a few tips from psychology that can have a huge influence on your business, and the human relationships you create along the way.

PSYCH 1-0-What?

Content marketing is all about getting the right content to the right customer at the right time. To do so, we need to go back in time and take a seat in our Psychology 101 class and understand how human behavior is tied to our decision-making behaviors in specific contexts.

A key part of being a rockstar marketer is tapping into how and why people act the way they do. How else can you create engaging content if you have no idea what someone wants and needs to read?

Your B2B Marketing Plan…And the Psychology Behind It

Even as a B2B marketer, there’s a person behind every buying decision. Plus, psychology shows time and time again that most of our decisions are based on emotions, even if we consider ourselves rational human beings. To impact a B2B buyer behavior, we have to appeal to that emotion.

To do so, here are four parts of your B2B marketing strategy that should include way more psychology than one might think:

1. Buyer Personas & Behavior

We’re all familiar with buyer personas and their power to deliver relevant content to stakeholders. What does this have to do with psych? Well, kind of everything. Being able to deliver content that is personally relevant to each persona, and the individual—the CMO, the Director of Product Marketer, whomever— will signal to the cognitive sides of ourselves that we want to learn more.

Conducting research to uncover persona behaviors, and finding out where they go for motivation and support, makes you a psychologist in a way. Put together focus groups, surveys, and user interviews to discover valuable information about your target audience. Get into their heads and figure out what challenges they face and how your content brings them one step closer to solving these roadblocks.

2. Your Personal Brand

Businesses build more trust in your brand when you can also reveal the person behind it. By positioning not only your company but also yourself as an expert, you’re laying down a strong foundation for a budding relationship. Some great ways to build your personal brand include publishing thought-leadership pieces on LinkedIn, engaging with experts and ideas on Twitter, speaking on panels at conferences, or joining webinars.

3. Visuals

While producing content is a huge part of a B2B marketer’s world, visuals are a powerful tool for generating the right emotions to your audience. Not to mention, 65% of people are visual learners! (Be right back, turning this blog post into an infographic…) B2B content marketing can get technical, and without visual content, it can become stifling. Plus, in a world flooded with content, yours won’t stand out without engaging visuals. Create images that represent your company’s personality, while establishing yourself as a thoughtful, engaging brand in your audience’s mind.

Some more food for thought: Colors play a major role in how your audience interacts with your content, and psychology has shown that certain colors are linked to certain emotions. For example, blue creates a feel of trust and invitation, while orange exudes playfulness and energy. It looks like Fanta is both an energetic and trustworthy soda.

4. Tone

While I did say to ditch the business professional attire earlier, I’ll admit that doesn’t mean you should talk to a prospect like you would your drinking buddy. You should still be friendly—and even crack a joke or two when appropriate—but you also need to present yourself as an expert in your industry, along with someone a buyer can learn from (this includes incorporating industry jargon). The more a prospective customer and point of contact see you as an expert, the more likely he/she will buy from you. So keep things friendly, but keep things professional, too. In B2B, people are often purchasing something that costs a significant amount of money and requires a large amount of buy-in, adoption, and team-wide support. That’s some serious decision making.

The major takeaway here is even in the B2B world, you’re still dealing with human emotions that create a significant impact on decision making. By proving you’re an expert and a human (I know, crazy), while truly understanding what your readers’ pain points and challenges are, you can deliver them content that provides the right value, while exposing the human behind the screen.

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