There’s a few different ways we like to categorize buyers. Though they are by no means fool-proof indicators of any individual’s behavior or preferences, these classifications can help us organize the strategies we use to educate different prospects at a more broad, macro level.
In this discussion, we’ll be looking at three different categorizations of buyers, each of which will influence the content and strategies we use to educate them and move them along the funnel;
- Psychographic Buyer Types
- Generational Differences
- Buyer Readiness
Psychographic Buyer Types
The Psychographics of a B2B buyer tells us that person’s internal attitude towards change. Different people have widely varying openness to change一 from those who are the first to try something new, to those who will never willingly try something new, and to those in between.
Geoffey Moore, best selling author and leading B2B high tech marketing thought leader, describes three types of B2B buyers in his classic book, Crossing the Chasm.
Visionaries actively seek change and are constantly looking for a significant competitive advantage, a capability that does not exist yet, or a “game changer” that nobody else has. They like to see improvements in order of magnitude (5X, 10X) and cost is rarely the priority. Unlike the following two types, they are willing to accept projected ROI.
The messages that engage Visionaries are things like; game changer; dramatic; the first; the only; X times faster/better; cutting edge; “X factor.”
Pragmatists take pride in being rational, practical, and objective in their decision-making process. They accept change as inevitable but do not precipitate it, and they don’t believe in “game changers.” They consider themselves rational and objective and are willing to take some risk for a proven level of reward. When researching solutions, they look for demonstrable incremental improvements, case studies, and quantifiable ROI. Importantly, the cost is not the primary concern, but it is factored in the ROI calculation.
The messages that engage Pragmatists are things like; proven; verifiable; demonstrable; incremental; have x number of the top 10 companies as customers.
Conservatives hate to change unless forced to do so due to regulation, customer demands, obsolete products, etc. They do not believe that things will get better. In fact, they really believe that things are getting worse, more complicated, harder to use, and expensive.
For this group, cost and brand are everything. They typically buy the cheapest of something they already use all the time. They hate taking any risk, resist change, and deeply believe that the best things in this world have already been invented. They want things to remain the same—forever if possible. They don’t trust or like technology and hardly ever willingly embrace it.
The messages that engage Conservatives are things like; oldest, most used; most popular; most trusted; award-winning; since 19XX.
In addition to the psychographic element of a B2B buyer, generational differences add a significant layer of complexity in designing our marketing campaigns. The three dominant generations in the workforce today are Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials, all of whom have had majorly different experiences and involvement with technology and culture. These differences will influence the type of marketing that will most engage them.
Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers tend to be highly individualistic and grew up in an era when “A-type” personalities were highly admired by employers. They are therefore generally very competitive in the workplace and not as collaborative. When buying, they generally prefer vendors that have extensive networks, and that are willing to let them access those networks.
Compared to the two other generations, they do the least amount of online research, preferring to use their networks to find new vendors. Unlike later generations, Boomers are more likely to want to talk to someone in real time, so it’s important to be reachable by phone by displaying contact info readily on your website and having a live person on the other end to answer it. Boomers also prefer conferences and webinars because these present venues that allow them to network.
Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers like to see data or evidence of a claim before moving forward with a solution. They seem to be more focused on improving organizational outcomes and become the most interested in productivity increases, process improvements, and revenue gains. In accordance with this, they will need to see demonstrable evidence of any claims you make during the Marketing process.
Gen Xers are tech-savvy and don’t have a problem with any digital channel; they will comfortably chat, email, text, and call. They also don’t mind attending conferences and other physical events to learn about solutions. Importantly, while communication doesn’t have to be formal, Gen Xers expect it to be professional.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials make up over 70% of the workforce today. Roughly 51% of all B2B decision makers today are Millennials. When searching for a vendor, they tend to look for characteristics surrounding a company’s values. They want to understand the vendor’s vision on that particular subject and whether it is something they can support. In fact, a survey from Deloitte found that 90% of Millennials today view the success of a business through more factors than simple performance; they’re likely to take into consideration the employee satisfaction, the company’s integrity, and environmental concerns where applicable.
Millennials prefer to engage digitally, preferring a Zoom meeting to a live one because they find it more efficient. They need lots of content in all types of digital media—documents, videos, podcasts, recorded and live webinars, and more. They’re also much more receptive to chatting casually and virtually than other demographics. As such, chat boxes on website pages can go a long way with them.
As explained in our white paper on Prospect Education, a third way to classify Prospects is by the stage of buyer readiness they’re at in their buyer’s journey. The levels of Buyer Readiness indicate how aware they are of their problem and how engaged they are with finding a solution for it. We can use this classification as a way to further narrow down the messaging we should be sending to Prospects, as not every Prospect is at the same level of Readiness as others, and will therefore need messaging that reflects how far they are along the buyer’s journey.
Level 1: Prospects with No Clue
These prospects are oblivious and unengaged, just beginning to feel and take note of a pain point in their business. However, they may not know that it’s a problem yet or, if they do, they won’t know how to fix it. They’ve begun some light research into the symptoms of their problem and are starting to understand the various potential options they have to solve it down the line. For those that are clueless, the marketing challenge is immense. You need a way to deliver messaging to them, which generally comes from Lead Generation content such as blogs, infographics, or online ads.
Level 2: Exploring Prospects
Exploring Prospects are interested but not yet engaged. They’re fully aware of the problem they’ve been experiencing and are actively seeking to solve it. They’ll be researching all of the products available to them and interacting the most with those whose content is the most informative and relevant to their needs.
At this stage, they should have ample access to relevant and helpful information in order to learn more about how they may solve their problem. They likely won’t be ready to talk with Sales until they’ve learnt enough about the issue and their options to solve it.
Level 3: Actively Searching Prospects
Actively searching and fully engaged prospects are deep in their buying journey and have likely narrowed their list down to a few options that have stood out to them along the way. They’re now searching for the final information that will let them decide on which solution to employ to solve their original problem.
Content at this stage should be targeted for those at this advanced level of buyer readiness, like comparisons between your product and your competitors’ or more in-depth content like case studies and white papers.
It needs to be pointed out that a “Contact Us” form will not cut it here. You must provide them with a way to schedule either a demo or a call with one of your sales reps, on their own and see that the meeting is set on their calendar as confirmation.
These three categories (Psychographics, Generations, and Levels of Buyer Readiness) should greatly inform how you target your messaging when educating Prospects. Though we covered the essential information of each category and what messaging works best for them here, you can read a much more in-depth profile of these marketing strategies and possible solutions for your company in this white paper.