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How to convince your business to take psychology seriously

There’s a key statistic that almost every marketer and salesperson has heard at some point in their career: buyers are going up to 70 percent of the way through the buying journey before speaking to a human being. Calling a salesperson is no longer the first line of contact for a buyer, and face-to-face meetings alone do not drive business. Instead, marketing is now responsible for the majority of the buyer journey, and this is changing the way that a typical marketer needs to think.

Marketing teams need to be as effective as sales in driving people through the funnel - but without ever meeting their prospect in person, or necessarily knowing who they are talking to. Add to this the fact that personalized marketing is becoming the new norm - and with very good reason - and you begin to understand the marketer’s dilemma.

One of the ways to address this dilemma is psychology. But businesses can often be skeptical about the value of psychology for the marketing department. Here are three arguments for cognitive marketing, ready for the next water cooler psychology debate.

1. Psychology helps you to understand your audience’s decision-making process

How can you guide your audience through the funnel without actually knowing them? You can understand how brains typically make decisions, the shortcuts they make, and the subconscious influences which might be changing how they engage with content.

Psychologists have dedicated decades to finding out how our brains work so that we can make estimations about the average person’s decision-making process. One of the most interesting findings is that our brains aren’t always logical, and there’s a pattern to the illogical decisions we make. These aren’t necessarily things that people are aware of, and knowing about them can help marketers to design contexts around the way brains actually work - not just the way we think they do. We’ve written about some of these here, and recommend them as ways that marketers can profile their audiences.

2. If your competitors aren’t using it yet, they will be soon...

The link between psychology and marketing has been well reported, from Forbes to Entrepreneur, and beyond. Governments in countries including Britain, India, and the US apply psychology to help them to influence consumer decisions. Psychological principals are behind everything from opt-in pensions to ordering of choices on menus.

As Dr. Jillian Ney, founder of The Social Intelligence Lab says, “some of the biggest businesses in the world are waking up to the fact that deploying psychology is the key...if we aren’t in that world deploying these tactics, we can bet that our competitors are.”

3. It’s applicable to both B2C and B2B contexts

One of the most common arguments against using psychology in marketing is that it’s applicable only to B2C, where you’re dealing with consumers who are quicker to make decisions than large corporations. While testing ideas takes longer with larger businesses, you might be surprised to find out that applying psychology is actually more effective in B2B environments than in B2C.

This was found in a study completed by Gartner and Google. Researchers found that when people are making B2B purchases they want to feel far closer and more connected to the brand than with B2C purchases. The reason for this is that B2B purchases are typically higher value and higher risk. Using psychology to understand typical buyer behavior and decision making, can make marketers more sympathetic and responsive to buyers. It allows you to get closer to people, understand the risks they’re taking, walk a mile in their shoes, and then design experiences with them in mind.