There are so many ways to segment an audience and target your messages – by job title, industry, seniority, behaviour… But there’s an important dimension that’s often ignored by B2B marketers: psychographics.

How different prospects feel about things can guide your segmentation, offers and creative. The trick is to find ways to get your psychographic targets to identify themselves so you can market to their specific biases.

Imagine you’re trying to get people to switch from a popular software package to your own, cloud-based solution. You can run campaigns for specific industries — and you probably should.

But there’s a subset of your prospect universe that is particularly ripe for conversion: the people who HATE the popular software vendor. The ones who are sick of their price-gouging or restrictive terms or lousy customer support.

Designing a campaign around these people will lead you to some very different tactics than a more traditional segmentation strategy might:

  • Generate content that plays to the sore points – (“Ten Steps to Escape From [Insert name of enemy]”).
  • Get the anger in the headlines – to tap into the pent-up resentment. (“Overthrow the oppressor.”).
  • Use images of revolt – fists, sledgehammers, grimaces and grouches…
  • Play up the factors that cause the resentment – if price is what gets up their noses, play the price card (duh).
  • Create a sense of unity among switchers – ‘come on over, it’s so much better in the light…’

It seems obvious, but if you hadn’t started with the psychology of the prospects, you wouldn’t go down this route.

So how do you actually reach the grumpiest prospects most likely to switch? They don’t subscribe to Fed Up Monthly. Instead, you need them to self-identify by responding to your signals.

Offer an eBook about the frustrations of, for example, on-premise software. Spray some venom into the social media groups. Give those tweets an extra edge to them.

The people who respond to this are telling you they belong to the psychographic you’re targeting. Once you know that, you can design communications accordingly. You don’t have to be crass about it.

Just recognise that someone who loathes your competitor is a different kind of prospect than a relatively satisfied customer who just doesn’t know any better (for these guys, you might run a campaign that really sells the problems without presuming a reservoir of anger).

Anger is a simplistic example but you get the idea. Think about targeting by psychology instead of demographics and new tactics and styles emerge.

At Velocity, we realised that we do our best work — and have the most fun – when we work with a certain kind of marketer: confident, ambitious marketers who like to be accountable for their company’s revenue pipeline.

People who aim high and would rather ruffle feathers than bore people to death. It’s not a huge portion of B2B marketers but it’s the juicy one that we really want to address. So we produced the B2B Marketing Manifesto, a 48-page rant designed to attract our sweet-spot clients and actively repel the dullards who hate sticking their necks out.

It worked. The people who responded to the Manifesto have been our kind of marketers. Not because of the company they work for or the industry they’re in. But because they think like we do.

Anyone who reads it and says, “I’d like some of this kind of attitude and energy for our own marketing,” is a thousand times more likely to be a successful Velocity client than someone who reads it and thinks we’re just being childishly provocative.

I know how obvious this all sounds. But I also know it’s practiced a lot less often than it ought to be. (Our own previous campaign – around our Content Marketing Workbook – attracted marketers across the psychographic spectrum.

They were interested in our core offer but they weren’t all up for our kind of marketing). The experience from the Manifesto made us much more aware of the power of psychographic targeting.

Anyone out there have examples of successful (or unsuccessful) psychographic campaigns?