Hands down, for me, what’s most fascinating about what we do is getting to peek into the psychology of buyer behavior. Especially in the b2b agency, it’s so rich and multilevel. It’s part rational, part emotional and a whole lot relational, inter/extra-organizational and networked. This drive to understand decision-making has greatly influenced our approach to gathering audience insights that inform brand and message strategy development for our clients. And the approach has proven its value in unearthing nuances that lead to the development of compelling brand ideas that can unify and align multiple audiences, in the end, enabling the consensus among diverse team members that’s required to make the average B2B purchase.
Philosophically the how of this approach paints a picture of the B2B purchase decision at three levels. First, at the macro level, we look at the structure and forces that drive the market. Picture an aerial snapshot of how value is added by each of the interdependent organizations as links that make up the value delivery chain(for example, supplier, consultant, manufacturer and distributor). How is value added by each link in the network as it is pulled through by the demand of the ultimate end consumer, and how do the forces of the market affect the perceived value that can be placed on any one of these firms/links? At the second level, we build an understanding of the dynamics between people—now it starts to get juicy. Who are the individuals by title who typically make up the formal and/or informal decision-making/influencing unit, and what are the power, influence and potential triggers for these folks at each step in the process? What are they looking to accomplish, and where and how should we engage with them, and how do they like to consume information? Then, at the third level, we dig even deeper to understand the rational and emotional drivers, key needs and opportunities to add value for those who are the most critical, who have the greatest power and influence over the behaviors we want to spark.
This is the really good stuff: getting a peek into the psychology of buying behavior. Having studied it for years, I will say, in general, we business people are highly motivated by the perceptions of our peers. We’re often equally, if not more so, motivated to make decisions that will reduce the chance of negative water-cooler chatter as we are by making decisions that are or will be perceived as ”smart.” What do you think Freud would have said about that?
Judy Begehr, Senior Vice President, Brand Consulting, at gyro in North America