Up until the 1950s, Marketing was mostly a discipline based on “economics.” Today the Marketing discipline is more of a behavioral science; the “systematic analysis and investigation behavior through controlled and naturalistic observation and disciplined scientific experimentation.”  In the Age of the Customer, marketers need to operate as behavioral scientists.

What does it mean to be a behavioral scientist as a marketer? It means we need to take a scientific approach to studying our customers and the various factors that cause them to act.  It also means that everything we produce needs to be based in behavioral data. So rather than being enamored with what we can produce and how quickly, we need to be immersed in truly understanding customer and market behavior.  We can apply both inductive (infer patterns based on data to build a theory) and deductive (test a behavioral hypothesis to test a theory) approaches. To be good behavioral scientists as marketers we need to know the current theory and then apply the scientific method to make valid observations, interpret and generalize the results and translate these into actionable insights.

Scientists Use Data

The personas, messaging, and customer journey maps we create are the work product of this approach. As marketers, there are three questions we need to ask to build to our scientific knowledge:

  1. What creates value for our customers?
  2. What builds trust and engagement with our customers?
  3. What facilitates decisions and action for our customers?
Marketers Need to Act like Scientists

Become a Marketing Scientist to Understand Customer Behavior

For each one of these questions, as a Marketing scientist start with a proposition. For example for a what facilitates action question, you may form the following proposition, “an increase in customer segment “A” consumption of content X at the Y stage of their journey causes an increase in the number of proposals from customer segment A.”   Or, “customers with persona A who do X, Y, and Z with solution B will be most likely to buy solution C.”  And also, “customers who experience X during the Y stage of product usage will be most likely to switch to a competitor within X days of experience.” Perhaps intuitively you already “know” the answer to these questions. Even so, taking a data-approach to test the hypotheses reduces risk, validates the hypothesis, and increases your credibility.

Marketing scientists address these three important questions

Successful companies are customer-focused and committed to creating and delivering superior customer value in their target markets. Customer value can be calculated as the difference between the value the customer gains from owning and using your product/service and the cost of obtaining it. Creating customer value is the fundamental foundation for acquiring and keeping customers.

Second, today’s customers are empowered. Their expectations have soared because they:

  • See themselves as active participants in the buying process.
  • Know that there are an almost limitless number of companies and channels vying to satisfy their needs and wants.

As a result, companies need new strategies for interacting with and providing information to customers, because these customers want to do business with a company that is interested in creating a meaningful dialogue with them.  It takes trust and engagement to create this level of interaction.

Lastly, Marketing is responsible for ensuring that prospects and customers have all the information they need, when they need it, in order to make a good buying decision. Usually when people perceive a high risk they slow down. Facilitating and accelerating the decision-making process, especially in a dynamic fluid environment, reduces the perception of risk.

Research suggests that many deals are stalled by a failure to overcome objections and drive consensus during the evaluation and decision-making phases. Therefore, it is imperative that marketers understand:

  • The customers’ buying process
  • What to do to facilitate the customers’ buying process
  • How to mitigate their risk concerns and effectively address their objections and concerns

We began with the bold statement that to be successful requires marketers to become behavioral scientists. By studying and understanding customer behavior, marketers can create customer value, build customer engagement, and facilitate and accelerating customer action. As Marketing scientists we can use science (a systematic and organized approach) to discover laws and postulate theories that can explain customer behavior and build scientific knowledge.

Today’s buyers are looking for suppliers/sellers who can support their decisions and help them improve their own position in the marketplace. With answers to the three questions we are in a unique position to help shorten the sales cycle and increase the win rate by attracting customers and prospects, guiding them through their buying process and proving and improving the value of Marketing.  If you’re not sure how to start taking a more behavioral  science appraoch to your Marketing, begin with a facilitated customer-centric workshop or schedule a conversation.

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