Explore the science behind content marketing and discover how the principles of behavioural economics make your messages compelling…

It’s all in the mind.

If marketing was just a matter of telling people to buy your stuff, then we B2B marketers would all be out of a job.

Thankfully, for all of us, both client and agency side, it’s more complicated than that, involving delving into the psychology of what makes people tick and understanding how to apply this insight to your business’s messaging.

The formal title for this is ‘behavioural economics’, and it looks at how we can grasp and leverage the psychology of human behaviour to achieve the effect we want. Fundamental to this are the six principles of persuasion developed by Robert Cialdini, and these provide a handy way to assess how effective your communication is.

Lots of types of marketing unwittingly use these principles — as do we all in our daily lives. But consciously implementing the principles of influence makes sure you are getting maximum return from your marketing.

We’ve spun the magic wheel of chance, and in this blog we’ll be focusing on two of the principles: reciprocity and authority. And, at a later point when the needle clicks slowly to a halt, we’ll explore social proof, commitment and consistency, liking and scarcity in future blogs.

Give and take: reciprocity in action.

Reciprocity refers to the phenomenon where, because someone does something for you that they perceive to be of value, you’re naturally inclined to do something back for them: it seems ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ is programmed into our psyches.

The important thing here is that sense of value. To trigger reciprocity, people need to feel what you’re offering is useful to them. And in the world of content marketing, this means sharing expertise, opinion or practical help that your target audience wants to respond to — and this is where you can foster the relationship and increase the likelihood of doing business.

You offer a relevant white paper, blog or ‘how to’ info (the list goes on and on), and the recipient reciprocates with their contact details, a share on social media, a recommendation or even a sale.

Commanding your audience with authority.

Your B2B audience is primarily looking for expertise and education to inform their roles and decisions. A smidge of entertainment, too, doesn’t go amiss. But your most effective communications will involve imparting knowledge to achieve credibility through establishing authority.

People’s decision-making looks for authority signals to reinforce the fact that we’re making the right choice. So we’re more likely to be influenced by those we perceive as authoritative.

Although building up a position of authority via thought leadership takes time, there are shorter-term ways to wield influence that you can implement across your content marketing. It can be as simple as bylining your blogs to your subject matter expert, and including a link to an author bio to reinforce their credibility. Or getting your C-suite involved on social media, so your messages are coming directly from those with the most perceived experience.

Work on establishing an association between your business and authority figures — analysts, experienced practitioners, well-known brands that use your product or services, trade bodies — and reassure your audience that you’re a safe bet.

Make psychology work for you.

Fancy knowing more about how we employ behavioural economics to maximise the effectiveness of your B2B content marketing? Just get in touch. And watch out for part two in this series, coming soon.

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