Image by Taz etc.via Flickr
Over the course of the past two years, we’ve seen a marked shift in buyer behavior and buying choices. So much so that the degree of uncertainty of why and how both individual buyers and organizational buyers make buying decisions has also markedly increased. There is a direct correlation occurring whereby as buyers continue to increase their share of self-directing the buying decision without any direct interactions from sellers, the degree of uncertainty grows. While quantitatively as well as statistically we have a sense of what buyers are doing, as survey reports by Baseone and DemandGen indicate, we still lack in-depth qualitative awareness on why and how certain buying choices are made.
This is awakening a renewed reality among business today that understanding shifts in buying behavior is becoming paramount to planning marketing and selling strategies that will succeed. Buyer behavior understanding began to surface more prominently in the mid-1970’s but remained on the fringes of planning and strategies as product-centricity was entrenched in much of business as we knew it through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. During the past three decades we have seen a growth in customer and buyer-centric thinking however buyer behavior analysis remained somewhat a small component of marketing and sales thinking as well as planning. Fast forward to the last five years and the explosive convergence of the Internet and the Social Age; we are seeing recognition that buyer behavior understanding is moving towards being the centerpiece linchpin of planning and strategy. Companies today are attempting to make themselves relevant to buyers who are radically evolving their buying behaviors and have more buying choices than they ever dreamed of in just a few short years. The relevancy mystery can only be solved by understanding buyer behaviors and the shifts in buying choices that are occurring.
We are witnessing another awakening as a result of new and rapidly evolving buyer behaviors; organizations today needing to approach marketing and selling interactions as more science and less art. These monumental awakenings call for a new approach and concept I call Buyerology. Buyerology is a means to introduce more science into understanding, both quantitatively and qualitatively, buyer behaviors and buying choices. The convergence of the Internet and the Social Age requires new approaches to tools that are used to reach in-depth understanding as well as to monitor rapid shifts in buyer behaviors. Buyerology must offer approaches and tools that help to translate buyer behavior understanding and insights into meaningful strategies that accomplish the relevancy that remains elusive for many companies today.
My own shift in thinking about buyer behavior began with a series of articles on Social Buyerology. The articles tapped into the recognition and movement towards more science and less art in the spheres of marketing and sales as well as in overall social strategy. Reflecting back on ten years since originating buyer persona development, much of the analysis performed via buyer persona development was in essence about buyer behavior. Recently, I have written about how buyer persona development must indeed undergo its own transformation at this juncture in modern business history.
This article marks a turning point for me personally and professionally. I have been thinking about something – in fact a lot – Tom Peters use to bellow loudly in many of his presentations years ago – that if you’ve been doing the same thing or staying with the same company for ten years or more you’ve become institutionalized. In similar ways, buyer personas as an idea has become institutionalized in various circles; defined rightly and wrongly, and indeed no longer can suffice on its own. Adapting to the new social world and taking a leap of faith, I will be devoting the next twelve weeks to elaborating on the new science of understanding buyer behaviors I call Buyerology. I will be sharing new approaches and tools that address the many challenges faced by organizations in marketing, sales, social business, and content strategy planning.
My hope is to accomplish two things. First, to avoid becoming institutionalized as Tom Peters ingrained in me many years ago. Whether he meant mentally or physically, I am not sure but it has felt like a few times, like many of us, I was losing my mind while I attempted to understand the many changes occurring! The second is to make a contribution towards advancing buyer behavior understanding through the social science of Buyerology.