Cognitive marketing significantly boosts B2B marketing effectiveness

Every B2B marketer realises that knowing your customers at a deeper level than your competitors and being able to pinpoint exactly where they are in their buyer journey, leads to more sales, quicker and for longer.  But achieving this through traditional marketing approaches can be extremely challenging, if not impossible. By adopting a cognitive marketing approach, you will unleash the power of the B2B marketer to truly get under the skin of the customer, resulting in increased marketing effectiveness, brand awareness and, ultimately, sales.

“Consumers simply do not know what influences and alters their decision making.   Yes, we have to listen to consumers as part of the marketing process, but it’s not as simple as asking them ‘what works for you?’” Mark Ritson | Marketing Professor and Brand Consultant

So what is cognitive marketing? 
Psychology has been a module on every marketing course worth its salt since forever. Why? Because understanding how customers buy, what they buy, when and why is the Holy Grail to marketers everywhere. Not more so in B2C, where these answers are traditionally much easier to find. But how does understanding the customer fit in the complex world of B2B?  On average there are 7 decision-makers in the B2B buying process, who all need to align in their thinking and timing to secure a sale.
It is only by understanding cognitive biases and how they affect customer decision-making that we can truly become effective marketers.
The complexity of DMUs
The complexity of multi-faceted decision-making units (DMUs) has always been a B2B challenge, but tackling this as one singular problem leads to failure. If you’re doing it right, you’re B2C marketing to every B2B decision-maker in the unit. Every individual, who makes up the buying group has their own drivers, including rational and emotional triggers (yes, emotion does play a part in B2B decision-making). By understanding these motivations we, as B2B marketers, can tap into revenues previously unobtainable to B2C’s perceived poorer cousin.
Humans are not rational
It is commonly assumed that humans are rational, but this is not strictly true.  Behavioural economics proves that whilst we may believe that we think and act rationally, we are driven by naturally-occurring cognitive biases – even in the case of business decision-making. 95% of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. By leveraging these irrational aspects, B2B marketers can achieve huge marketing gains. 
Three of the most common cognitive biases we as humans have, are prejudicial, contextual and experiential.
Prejudicial bias is where people stick with the brand they know, even if it might not be the best solution for their needs.  Using this to our advantage, we need to break this inertia by increasing brand awareness.  Cognitive marketing allows us to do this in an effective and impactful way.  By truly understanding the individuals behind the DMU, we can create more compelling customer value propositions that directly appeal to their wants, needs and drivers, thereby encouraging customers to switch brands.
Contextual bias is all about not what you say, but how you say it.  The way in which information is presented and conveyed (framed), greatly influences the decision-making process.  Altering how you convey key messages to boldly emphasise the benefits to customers of your product or service will help them move the decision-making process in your favour.
Experiential bias is where customers make a judgement based on the most extreme point of an experience, whether positive or negative.  This invokes an irrational response which can cloud judgement, with decisions being made on just one part of the experience rather than the whole.  Identifying all the touchpoints of a customer’s journey and ensuring positive experiences at every point, will allow for a better experience and increase the chances that they will choose you over your competitors.
The power of martech
Technology and the rise of the towering martech stack has had a formidable impact on marketers' ability to analyse, predict and respond to buyer behaviour. It has empowered marketing to take full advantage of the 3 Rs: relevance, relationship and revenue. And all in real time. That's not to say good old-fashioned desk research has had its day. Picking up the phone to a statistically sound sample of customers has its place. In a world of automated emails, human connections resonate louder than ever before.
But technology is just the enabler, not the solution.  It is the strategy behind the technology that is key.
The data maze
The proliferation of communication channels has brought with it the challenge of collating all the available information. Many marketers seem busy doing this but there's still a big knowledge gap between obtaining data, understanding it and knowing what to do with it. There’s a big jump between interpreting data correctly and then executing activity with that knowledge to get results. Part of the problem for most marketers is knowing what data to go for in the first place. Again, this is where strategic planning comes in. What have you got without a strategy?  It’s literally pinning the tail on the donkey in the dark.
Putting the customer at the heart
The Marketing Ps were redubbed Cs by Bob Lauterborn in 1993 with The Customer earning its place in the top spot. Why? Understanding the customer is fundamental for success. Arguably more than any other variable, the customers' perceived wants and needs, particularly needs in B2B, are pivotal to the backbone of marketing strategy: positioning, segmentation and targeting.
A cognitive marketing approach simply means putting the customer where they belong – at the heart and forefront of your marketing activity.
To truly understand your customer, you need to delve deeper. Not simply analysing segments or personas, but individuals. Only by knowing your customers at a deeper level than your competitors, understanding human behaviour and winning their heart and mind, can you even begin to market your brand successfully. 
Buying decisions are complicated, but they don’t have to be.  Learn how to manage them by adopting a cognitive marketing approach, and see increased success and ROI.

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