Optimizing Marketing Strategies for B2B Buyer Types

We know that optimizing your marketing approach for each of the fundamental B2B  buyer types leads to higher engagement and better brand recognition, but how can you choose the right approach一with the most effective words and the most influential underlying messages一to best speak to these audiences? How do you choose which aspect of your product will most interest the buyer, and how will your delivery of that information pique their interest and close the most deals? 

When crafting your marketing approach, choosing the optimal framing, words, and motivational drives for each of the buyer types in your target audience is important. In order to speak to them the most directly, you’ll need to understand what values they hold in the decision-making process, what particular things they desire in products, and which ideas are the most likely to make them act. Merging the theories from Will Leach’s book, Marketing to Mindstates, and Geoffrey A. Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm, we’ll take an in-depth look at what drives each of these buyer types and how to optimize your marketing approach for these factors. 

Visionaries: What they want

For Visionaries, the cost of the product is not as important as the substance of the dream it promises. As such, marketing for this type should not focus on cost or economy but instead on how innovative, cutting-edge, or game-changing the product will be. Visionaries want to buy into something that has never been done before, and so past evidence or “proof” that the product has worked elsewhere is not particularly useful, and might even get in the way. In the same vein, they're willing to accept projected ROI, as long as it’s substantial enough to pique their interest. Generally, they also want to see impressive promises, like big milestones being passed, or impactful change happening quickly. 

The words that speak to Visionaries' values the most clearly are those like: 

Game changer; dramatic; the first; the only; X times faster/better; cutting edge; “X factor.” 

In sum, anything that promises a large pay-off by way of a new technology will speak the most directly to what they desire in products. 

Visionaries’ motivational aspirations are for achievement, autonomy, and engagement. To support these values, marketing content should underline how investing in the product will fulfill these psychological needs. To cater to the desire for achievement, content should promise them the feeling of being accomplished or tech savvy for choosing your product. This is best applied when it relates to their willingness to back an innovative or game-changing option. 

When it comes to autonomy, your marketing approach should suggest an independence from what everyone else is doing, and feed into their desire to feel unique in their decision-making process. Highlight the elements of the product that stand out, and suggest that choosing your more novel product over a mainstream one will communicate a sense of originality in the Visionary’s decision-making process. An excellent example of this comes from Apple’s highly successful 1997 ad campaign, whose slogan read, “Think different.” In presenting the idea, Steve Jobs said it was about “honoring the people who think different and move this world forward.” The campaign’s call to those who desire to feel “unique” from the mainstream population ended up pulling the company out of its economic slump, highlighting the efficacy of marketing to a specific audience and optimizing your messaging to isolate what motivates them. 

As for the need for engagement, make sure the product is marketed in such a way as to excite their interest, particularly because of how novel or unconventional the product is. Visionaries need to feel excited about the choices they make, so an effective approach to market to them will rely on engaging content.

Pragmatists: What they want

For Pragmatists, cost and proof of concept are important, but they are more so factors in their decision rather than the basis of it (as is the case with Conservatives). Pragmatists will want to see how these factors will relate to the overall likelihood of success if they decide to choose your product, but when sharing this information with them, it’s wise to optimize the frame in which you choose to share it in order to best address their values and desires. As such, they’ll respond best to demonstrable incremental improvements, case studies, and quantifiable ROI. They want to see detailed analysis or case study as proof that your product has worked for others in their industry, and they appreciate realistic promises over the far-fetched claims that’ll be the most exciting to Visionaries. 

The words that speak to Pragmatists’ values the most clearly are those like: 

Proven; verifiable; demonstrable; incremental; have x number of the top 10 companies as customers

In sum, anything that assures a reliable, evidence- and community-backed solution will speak the most directly to what they desire in products.

The motivational aspirations that most generally drive Pragmatists are competence and empowerment. To optimize for their desire for competence, marketing approaches should give them all the details they need to feel confident in their decision-making process. This can be facilitated through compelling case studies and realistic ROIs. The idea is to make them feel they are competent (even pragmatic) decision-makers who may level all the pros and cons before coming to a decision. 

To inspire the sense of empowerment, it’s important to make them feel in control of the outcome of their decision to move forward with your product and to highlight their authority in the decision-making process. As such, try to underline the strategic merit in choosing your product over others and frame any associated risks as manageable or easily-calculated. A solid strategy here would be to offer them a compelling, fact-based argument that will assure them that their decisions are well-informed and level-headed.

Conservatives: What they want

For Conservatives, cost and brand are everything. They need to know that others in the industry, right now and in the past have used your product without any problems. Even at that, they’ll generally only be incentivized to take on a different product if it’s cheaper than their existing options. To market to them, your approach must highlight your product’s acceptance by their larger community or industry and its ultimate dependability. To build on this, it must also assuage the Conservative’s fear of difficulty or of having to struggle through the transitionary process of learning new features. Market your product as easy-to-use, painless, cheap above all else, and as the industry standard. 

The words that speak to Conservatives’ values the most clearly are those like: 

Oldest, most used; most popular; most trusted; award-winning; since 19XX; zero-risk; simple

In sum, anything that assures a traditional, well-endorsed, and cost-effective product will speak the most directly to what they desire in products.

Conservatives’ main aspirational motivations are for belonging and security. As described above, the way to market to those who value a feeling of belonging would be to highlight how many other professionals in their industry use and have used your product successfully. This is made stronger through messaging that suggests that other Conservative types also trust your brand. The idea is to communicate that, if they choose your product, they’ll be joining a vast array of peers who have already judged this product as reliable and hassle-free. 

To cater to their motivation for security, market your product as the most simple, painless, and risk-free option out there. Conservatives crave the security of an easy, low-adaptive transition because they dislike change, so communicating the simplicity of your onboarding process will speak much louder to them than many other approaches. Additionally, since Conservatives generally believe that things aren’t getting better— perhaps only getting worse with time— suggesting that the product will simplify their lives, that it only takes a few minutes to get started, and that there is a 24 hour hotline ready to help at any time is a strong idea. 

Recapping

Having a nuanced understanding of the buyer types you’re selling to is essential when optimizing your marketing approach. However, just as essential is understanding which proven online marketing strategies you can use to cultivate high-quality leads within these three groups. 

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