Understanding the B2B Buyer – Part 1: The B2B Brain

Understanding the B2B Buyer – Part 1: The B2B Brain


Let me talk to you about the b2b buyer. They are different than b2c. They have different concerns, different needs that a consumer doesn’t consider. The same marketing tactics that are used to influence a consumer don’t necessarily apply to b2b.

This article is the first in a series that will break down just what sets a b2b buyer apart and how marketers can better create messaging that resonates with them.

B2b buyers have both business and personal needs

The b2b brain is divided in two, and like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde one half of it is dedicated to the greater good while the other half focuses solely on the self. A savvy b2b marketer should be keenly aware of these two halves and craft their messages accordingly.

The Dr. Jekyll half of the b2b mind seems selfless. It is the half that wants its company to succeed. It focuses on the bottom line: increasing sales, gaining a competitive advantage, etc.

The Mr. Hyde half of the b2b mind is the selfish half. It is the half that wants the self to succeed. Important to it is career advancement, job security, etc.

Fortunately, the goals of these halves are mostly aligned. A buyer who makes an intelligent decision that has real positive impact for his or her company is perceived as an asset to a company, and therefore that decision is a feather in that buyer’s cap.

B2b buyers aren’t interested in how great you are

To be honest, the Jekyll and Hyde comparison is not entirely accurate. Both halves of the business brain are selfish. I’m not saying that the b2b brain is selfish in the Ayn Randian, Objectivist sense, but it is, for the most part, only interested in the things that impact the company for which it works.

As such, a b2b marketers should avoid focusing on their own products. Bad marketing content is heavily laden with possessive pronouns (we provide, our solutions). It positions the product as the hero of the story. This is an example of a marketer’s own b2b brain doing the talking, promoting its needs and desires above those of its prospects. To be successful a marketer must suppress their inner Jekyll and Hyde and adopt a customer-centric approach.

The prospect should be the hero of every piece of content a marketer creates. The active pronoun here should be “you.” Good marketing content focuses on the prospect’s needs, problems, and challenges. It should express a keen understanding of these issues and only position a product as solution that can help address that issue.

Never Be Selfish

It is clear that it is the very nature of the b2b mind to be selfish. In business, success or failure often depends up the drive that selfishness creates. You want your company to succeed. You want to gain competitive advantage over your competitors. You want to advance your career. It’s the very nature of competition. However selfishness is not necessarily the way to win.

The best b2b marketers understand that selfishness has no place in their messaging. Companies should position themselves as “trusted advisors” who genuinely want their customers to succeed. B2b marketers that have eliminated selfishness from their organization should nonetheless strive to understand selfishness –especially as it relates to the b2b brain—if they are to succeed.