As previously published on 4/16/21 in The Drum

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

How ‘false positive’ personality types disrupt B2B intent data.

There is no argument that when a B2B buyer begins their journey, they start online. All of the research and data points are right, the journey starts with a search; often times with a solution and/or vendor in mind. Do you know what else B2B buyers do? They search for information even when they’re not in a buying cycle, which is a problem because our tools don’t know the difference. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

If your organization is in the “advisory” or information services industry, and/or considered to be a thought leader in the industry, congratulations, the majority of the people consuming your content are not buyers, they’re fans.

The expensive intent data you’re buying or retargeting campaign is going to waste because it is tracking engagement, and not real intent. To get to intent, you must first understand the audience’s motivations.

In particular, there are two segments of your audience who actively search and use content but neither doing as part of a buying journey, and if they are, they’re planning to make things difficult. Take for example these two scenarios.

1. The false positive “C-level”. Nothing will set off the bells of a lead nurturing program like a C-Level hitting your content. A senior executive “Seeker/Sharer” personality type is constantly scanning the horizons searching for new insights. The problem is they don’t own anything. They love finding new solutions, ideas, tools and vendors, but a resulting action will require someone else’s involvement. These personalities will “turtle” on you, hitting your content especially if you’re a thought leader, and then disappear only to reappear again in three to four months. It’s super frustrating for lead nurturing programs because they are not linear. They’ll hop around from topic to topic as they search for information to share with others. Unfortunately, this personality type only meets the “A” on a BANT scoring index, the budget and need, most often, will sit with someone else.

2. The entrenched “status quo seeker”. This is a tough one. Not only can this personality fool marketers, they can also trick sales into thinking there is interest. The “Neophobe” personality type seeks to reinforce their own point of view by consuming information that aligns with their own beliefs. Think of this person as someone who only watches Fox News or CNN as their source for political news and information. Your content doesn’t move them to take action, it entrenches them in their own world. Even if it was different from their POV, they will read it through their own filter that will align with how they think. As for confusing sales, this personality is friendly, in fact, it’s one of their key attributes, but they will do nothing to advance a sale, advocate for your brand and/or solution. It’s just not in their DNA.

Once you are able to filter out the false positives, you can get to real intent. “Intent” is shown through intentions…e.g. someone has to do something. Downloading a piece of content or attending a webinar doesn’t dig deep enough into motivations to satisfy that criteria.

To do that you need to understand how different personality types interact with each other in the buying group, this requires watching their online behaviors. The key is not consumption of content or engagement, it’s sharing.

The “Seeker/Sharer” whom I mentioned earlier, they are the most important audience for marketing. Stop chasing them and find out who they are sharing your information with…that’s your target. Seekers will find the “doers” inside the organization. And those people will most likely also have the need and the budget.

Now you have intent, that person intends to drive the buying process forward… because it’s their personality, they champion other people’s good ideas. Sharers need champions, champions need sharers, and you need to know them to be successful.


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