Shaping The B2B Buying Experience One Broccoli Experiment At A Time

broccoliAccording to a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes a tenth of a second to form an opinion of a stranger’s face.
W-O-W.  We judge people quickly, or at least their appearances.

I will not attempt to blog about opinions formed around people and their beauty levels (phew!), but it did surface [a lot] while researching topics on forming opinions.  I’ll stick to what I know best – shaping b2b buyer opinions of marketing ads.  There are three tough critics I use as guinea pigs to sharpen my opinion shaping skills:  my littles, ranging in age from 6 to 2.

When selling my littles on how delightful and oh-so-tasty green vegetables are, I quickly discovered I have approximately 5 seconds to convince them. And in those 5 seconds I better nail my pitch – there are no second chances.  For example, saying “It’s time to eat broccoli and chicken for dinner” doesn’t influence their opinions in the least.  I get groans of all kinds and nose wrinkles.  BUT, experience tells me to position it more like this, “You need big muscles to play outside.  Eat your broccoli and you’ll have more energy to play 15 more minutes.”  Whether we like it or not, we live in a what’s in it for me world.  We know in a matter of 7 seconds (or less) if what is being presented will help us get what we need.  I like to think that my re-spin on eating greens is somewhat getting them to understand the benefits of eating healthy.  When they eat healthy it allows for more time to do what they love the most – play outside.

In business, you’ll often hear marketers talk about an “outside look in” versus an “inside look out” approach. What’s the difference?  When you look outside first, you’re putting your opinions/beliefs on hold and instead choosing to listen to the needs of your audience.  Listening to feedback gathered from the voice of your customer and letting it guide your go-to market messages is a good summary of embracing outside-in.  When you answer the what’s in it for me question in your marketing messages, you begin earning trust and credibility – two attributes that lead to success.

Elisabeth Lagerstedt is a retired CEO from Inquentia Group that understands the importance of answering what’s in it for me.  She shares a few questions you can ask yourself to evaluate whether your organization leans more towards an outside-in approach.

1) Do you know what your targeted customer segments are, what needs and behaviors they have, how to best solve their relevant problems and what kind of value you provide them?

2)  Is there a strong fit between your target segments’ needs, your value proposition, your overall business model, internal processes and a customer-oriented organizational culture, with focus on creating value for your customers? And do you feel that it is a fundamental necessity of running a successful business?

We have less than 7 seconds to shape the opinion of buyers and make an impactful impression.  Understanding what motivates your audience by turning up your listening ears (a phrase I use with my littles all the time) is what has helped increase click and conversion rates in my marketing efforts. If positioning a statement to be more outside looking in gets my kiddos to eat their greens because that will get them more energy to play outside – why would the same concept not apply in business to buyers?  They need “x” to deliver “x” results that fulfills a need to make their jobs easier and yield greater success for the business.


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