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Psychographics Current Key to B2B

Are Psychographics The Next Big Breakthrough In B2B Demand Generation?

As we look to planning for 2017, one emerging trend that is really beginning to excite many marketers I’ve spoken with (myself included!) is the technological advances that will let B2B marketers target customers based on psychographics and likely behaviors.

Say goodbye to title/role/function-based targeting and hello to mobilizer-targeting.

As background, recall the research that CEB has done into customer stakeholders who are in some form or fashion involved in purchase decisions. The upshot is, your marketing and sales efforts ought to target Mobilizers—customer stakeholders who are especially good at driving change and building consensus within their organizations. You want to avoid wasting time with what we call Talkers (who will engage with your content and sellers’ all day long, but won’t actually be able to advance a deal) and Blockers (those who put status quo above all else).

We know from that research, published in The Challenger Customer, that Mobilizers defy a simple title/role/function description. In fact, you’re more likely to get a Talker or a Blocker than you are a Mobilizer if you just grabbed a group of decision-makers who share the same title/role/function.

Traditionally, the best that B2B marketers could really do with their targeting efforts has been to target title/role/function. Based on the data point above, that’s far from ideal. Lots of wasted effort and resources, some of which counter-productive. On a good day, B2B marketers can bring in wisps of “intent” based on observed behavior to identify those prospects who might be in the market for your solution. However, even then you can end up engaging customers who are out there learning and dreaming, but not able to actually help you get the deal done.

But here’s the exciting part: there are some groundbreaking marketing technology players who are pushing the envelope on identifying the psychographic “signature” of prospects who would be more likely to mobilize (and not just talk). And, I’ve been tinkering with our data to pressure test the underlying ideas.

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My early view is that psychographic targeting in B2B shows real promise. Specifically, we’re talking about examining the digital and social footprint that customer stakeholders lay down every day through their comings-and-goings online and in social media. Couple that with, in some cases, natural-language processing that can parse written (and even spoken) language a hundred different ways. All with the idea of finding little clues that signify a customer’s likelihood to be a Mobilizer.

The underlying hypothesis here is that Mobilizers show up in subtly different ways—their social profile is nuanced, or they use different turns of phrase and language—than Talkers and Blockers. It seems to take deep analytics to spot these clues, but our early research here is promising.

With this type of intelligence in-hand, B2B marketers will be able to drop the title/role/function-based targeting and shift to a much more precise approach. They’ll be able to deliver content to audiences that are far more likely to drive change and build consensus around change in their organizations. Pair that with the kind of content that actually engages Mobilizers (not thought leadership, but Commercial Insight-based content that teaches the customer something new about their business they haven’t considered or appreciated before), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for much more effective B2B demand generation.

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Patrick Spenner wrote this for Forbes. See the original article and great graphics.