The Thoughts Of A Consumer.

The Psychology Behind Different Types of Marketing.

The psychology behind different types of marketing is a key thing that marketers need to understand in depth. At its core, marketing is all about getting a message across to the right person, at the right time. Yes, there are various avenues one can follow. However, the focus must be on whom you are targeting and how do you get them on message.

Psychology plays a huge part in this:

The behavioural theory argues that we are generally products of our environment and look to others for social cues. Behaviour can be learnt from others and reinforced by repeated exposure.

The cognitive theory states that we are governed by our thoughts and emotions – which actually cloud logic. Individuals will often have different reactions to the same stimuli. These reactions will be triggered by an experience, needs and impulses

Therefore as marketers, it is important to not only understand what strategies to use for B2B and B2C buyers but why.


Most B2C websites have a highly sophisticated set of PPC parameters. The data is there if X number of people visit then we can expect Y amount of returns.  Very quickly a B2C merchant will optimise spending to ROI.

However, this is not the case in the B2B world. The math does not work on the same volume or timeframe. Firstly the product sold may be a niche software or item and sales will often take months to convert.  Therefore does PPC have the same impact with B2B consumers as it does with B2C?

Psychologically, a B2B buyer is looking for what is in the best interests of their company. They will be looking into entering into a long-term relationship. Therefore cold, calculated decisions and logic prevail. “What’s best for the company in the long run…? How will this affect reputation with my colleagues?”

Most B2B buyers at this stage are following Behavioural Theory. They are not looking to be converted –but are merely ’browsing for value’.  By using keywords that ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ you can create a stimulus that leads you into their sphere of influence.  For example, have the PPC direct to a landing page that gives free advice, downloads and content.

This engenders reciprocity. If someone does something for you, you’re naturally inclined to do something back for them.  Reciprocity is a highly relevant psychological tool, to the B2B marketing approach. By providing value to people through the PPC landing page you create, in return, you receive contact details (leads!) which have a higher chance of being converted later.

Alternatively, your average B2C consumer is led by emotion and desire. They are ready to buy and just need a nudge in the right direction “it’s so shiny! …I want it!” Why is this important from a psychological standpoint? Well, it shows the importance of emotional keywords and calls to action.  Whether we admit it or not as individuals we are usually selfish.  Gratifying our own desires takes priority over our actual needs. Most B2C buyers are following their emotions.

Hawkins Stern believed heavily in the idea of Impulse buying.  Therefore if a B2C owner focuses on catchy PPC keywords that ‘push’ on immediate gratification e.g. “Special offer!” “Limited stock!” – These buzzwords will trigger the Cognitive theory impulse mechanisms of the brain, converting into immediate sales.


B2B is all about relationships. Every marketing tactic is focussed on building that long-term relationship.  The longer the relationship the more personalised the service. Usually, with an individual relationship manager, as a key point of contact.

B2C, on the other hand, is more geared towards transactions. The goal is selling products and increasing brand recognition.

At its core both B2B and B2C, relationship marketing relies on triggering empathy.  As humans, we want to know and understand the feelings of one another. It turns out that we have a specific cluster of cells in our brains called “mirror neurons”.  Why are they called mirror neurons I hear you ask?  Well because they mirror in your brain an experience you see, hear, or read.  Essentially watching someone enjoy eating a yummy ice-cream, on a hot summer day, fires in your brain the same neurons as it does in theirs.

Let’s take this a step further. If the ‘viewer’ and the ‘Doer’ have the same neurological reaction- then do they not feel the same emotion? And as Cognitive theory dictates, are we not governed by our emotions?

So a B2C relationship built on foundations of shared experiences and stories engenders a relationship of belonging. The best example of this is Jack Daniel’s underground adverts. Every four weeks a new story was told as a sip of information designed to reveal a portion of the entire brand story. Commuters felt invited – with language, imagery and iconography – to learn more and develop a meaningful understanding and relationship with Jack Daniel’s.  The result was that young male underground travellers aged 19-29 were more likely to recommend Jack Daniel’s than any other brand.

By tapping into the psychology of their targeted audience and taking them on a brand journey Jack Daniel’s not only increased sales but built upon influencer marketing with peer recommendations. 


Social Proofing – the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behaviour. Essentially we look to others to guide our actions.

B2B buyers are behaviourists. They will take an informed look at a product or service prior to purchasing. However if given a referral by a positive, dependable industry giant or even a blogger recommendation – It will pull them through the purchasing process.  Track records and results carry weight in the industry. Psychologically authority engenders influence.

Take the famous Milgram experiments in the 1960s where a volunteer ‘teacher’ was instructed to give increasing shocks at 15-volt intervals to a ‘student’ if they answered a question incorrectly.  Incredibly 65% of the volunteer teachers gave the maximum shock of 450 volts when prompted by the authority figure. Of course, the shocks were fake, but the volunteer teacher did not know that.

Now I’m not advocating shocking your B2B buyers into submission –  but bringing on board respected leaders who advocate your products and services and products will influence B2B buyers.

Curiously B2C consumers seem to have fallen out of love with ‘Experts’. This was seen in the lead-up to and after the fall-out of the Brexit vote. In the last days before the referendum, Newsnight’s Policy Editor Chris Cook interviewed a retired woman called Joan in a Bognor Regis cafe.

In what felt like one of the most revealing exchanges of the campaign, Chris listed Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s seemingly ample qualifications to make predictions about how Brexit would affect the economy.

“Yes,” she replied, “but does he know what it’s like to go round Sainsbury’s?

The more connected B2C consumers become. The more heart they want to see in a business. This shift towards H2H (heart 2 heart) influencer social proofing cannot be ignored. 77% of online shoppers look at reviews to guide their purchases – this social proofing is often capitalised upon with product testing reviews.

OWNED MEDIA MARKETING                                                     

The key to a successful content channel is that you have engaging content that is relevant and valuable and that you are using all available data to personalise the experience for the user.

B2B consumers are looking for value; the more valuable the content the bigger the return.  Of course, this is a lengthy and time-consuming process. One has to carefully weigh the type and value of the content you give away for free against the desired action you want visitors to take.  If you give away too little, you won’t achieve your conversion goals.  But giving away too much can be just as bad. However, there is a way to shorten it.

By using whitepapers, blog posts, websites and ebooks to pull already credentialed industry figures into conversations on your own media – you can vicariously reap the rewards of status. The more it is shared and linked with other sites and media, the higher the reputation of your product will rise – Status by proxy.

Another example is the company address.  The closer to the centre of London, the more perceived prestige and value your company has.  By purchasing or renting an office in a prime location you automatically increase the perception of success. At a basic level, it is the same a hiring out a flashy car to impress people. A whole industry has grown off the back of renting offices in prime postcodes.

B2C consumers, on the other hand, are seeking connections and experiences.  The cognitive theory comes into play. If a B2C company is able to provide content which connects with consumer lifestyle and emotions; they will be targeting mirror neurons and triggering need.

The Nike+ app is a perfect example of this. By encouraging members (think exclusivity) to share aspirations and achievements – it automatically makes it more than just about a purchase. The product is seen as essential to gaining a particular lifestyle. This in turn brings in more B2C consumers.


Content marketing is part of owned media; separate as it allows you to show value and expertise, while softly promoting your services. Continuously creating and sharing blogs and webinars is a time-consuming process.  But it is worthwhile as the more content a B2B company creates around their particular field, the more successful and influential they are seen-this is ‘thought leadership’.

Thought leadership positions companies into a buyer’s sphere of influence.  It also helps you stand out from possible competitors as leaders and experts in the field that can bring value to a business.

B2C content marketing is more about creating an immediate buzz about a product. You are looking to trigger emotional satisfaction & immediate gratification. Thus B2C content marketing occupies multi-channels to ensure exposure and create direct conversations with customers.  This can be through social media, or through blogs and Youtube videos.

By connecting to consumers B2C companies try to make themselves relevant to the lifestyle of the consumer.


80% of B2C consumers believe business should play a role in addressing social issues.

Cause marketing is all about empathy and emotions. Thus both B2B and B2C companies use the same strategies.

Why is this? We value connection and empathise through stories. By linking to charities and causes, B2B and B2C companies want to show themselves as socially responsible. Additionally, any empathy engendered towards causes rubs off onto the business by proxy.

Companies often leverage charity events, video testimonials, and anything else that places ‘worthy causes’ in front of potential buyers. Take Salesforce who offer employees six days of volunteer time off to get involved with causes they care about (many other companies are beginning to move toward similar models). Not only does this reflect well on their brand, but it also makes a positive impact on the community and employee satisfaction. Talk about a win-win.

Cause marketing can go wrong if the message a company is sending causes a conflict of interest. Sainsbury’s recently faced a customer backlash after the supermarket group launched its own ‘fairer trade’ sustainability standard. Effectively, negating the need for the external and much lauded ‘fairtrade’ ethical certification labels on its products.


Transactional marketing is dying – there I said it.

The bastions of every salesman and marketer for generations; product, pricing, placement and promotion are going the way of the Dodo. In today’s multi-channel, connected world, relationships matter.

Whether B2B or B2C; the buyer wears the trousers. They are smart enough to shop around and do their own research. It is psychology, not salesmanship that will drive future business. The future is continuous relationship marketing

Continuing relationships aren’t about a single transaction or piece of content. They aren’t about one single event. Instead, you offer up your existing content as evidence of the value of what you provide. It is about inserting yourself into the buyer’s sphere of influence. By being of repeated consistent value, they will want to hear from you.