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Marketing insight lessons from psychologists

“The use of insight in communications is like teenage sex", says Richard Fogg, CEO of PR agency CCgroup, “everyone is talking about but no one is actually doing it.”

To be precise, Richard is talking about communications planning in B2B markets. He goes on to say “insight should help communicators understand the sources of influence for their customers… to my belief the active use of insight in B2B (marketing) is so low and so poor that the industry has an enormous way to go.”

The need for greater use of insight data in B2B marketing

I would argue that to an extent all marketing and communications folk are reliant upon market research and digital data to increase their understanding of data and insight. And this is a good thing; I think, as a sector, public relations has come a long way along this road in the last couple of years, albeit we’ve got a decent distance still to travel.

However, when you take a psychological perspective, it seems that market research can only increase understanding to a limited extent; most psychologists agree that a human’s decision-making is 95% sub-conscious and therefore market research only allows you to understand the conscious decision-making process of your customers.

Katherina Wittgens discusses the importance of psychological insight when targeting your customers:

If you are basing your marketing planning on market research insight, you are basing it on only 5% of your customers' thought processes. As Katharina Wittgens, consulting psychologist at strategy firm Aperture Insights, suggests: “Psychology should play a crucial part for any marketing campaign. Traditional market research gives you an insight into people’s conscious thinking, but decades of studies show that people’s behaviour is driven by the sub-conscious thought.”

Messaging trends gained from psychological insight

CCgroup recently undertook a research project into how the influencer pressure points change depending on the sector you might be working in. The three sectors they researched were all in B2B markets.

A ranking of the most influential channels on purchasing behaviour in enterprise, financial services and broadcast:


Financial services


1.      White papers

1.      Analyst reports

1.      Case studies

2.      Case studies

2.      Webinars

2.      White papers

3.      User reviews

3.      Conferences

3.      Analyst reports

4.      Trade press

4.      White papers

4.      Webinars

5.      Analyst reports

5.      Trade press

5.      Vendor blogs

Interestingly, across the three markets (enterprise, financial services and broadcast) the least influential channels were videos, direct mail and national/business press.

The research also looked into the content themes that influence purchasing in the B2B technology markets of enterprise, financial services and broadcast.

Content that influences in business to business markets:

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