How ‘false positive’ personality types disrupt B2B intent data

How ‘false positive’ personality types disrupt B2B intent data

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.


Want to convert that B2B sale? You’d better be aware of these 4 buyer personalities.

Want to convert that B2B sale? You’d better be aware of these 4 buyer personalities.

As previously published on 3/22/21 in The Drum

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

B2B marketers are great at targeting customers, but often not so great at understanding the personal motivations behind each buyer. Carbon Design chief executive Scott Gillum explains what you need know about the four key B2B buying personalities.

We all have different personalities but for some reason when it comes to business marketing, we forget that point. We often treat a person as a specific role, say a chief executive officer, the same as any of their peers. A CEO is just a CEO, they all have the same needs, goals and interests.

It’s one of the reasons why our campaign performance suffers. Despite our best efforts, benchmark performance for all key metrics hasn’t moved in the last 20 years or more. If we look at our best performing campaigns that achieve double digits response, or click thru rates, our failure rate is still in the 80-90% range.

After a year of using AI-enabled personality profiling tools, we’ve now seen a common trend among customers, responders and quality leads, according to a recent study conducted by Carbon Design. The commonality: 70-75% of audiences are influence-able through the use of marketing activities, the rest are not, at least using marketing only.

In search of ‘sharers’ and ‘success-oriented’ personalities

Personality type reveals a buyers’ motivations and behavior. The good news is that there are two personality types consistently show up in our research that are active information seekers and they typically make up 65-70% of the audience. It skews higher in North America, and lower in Asian countries.

The first segment, the ’Sharer,’ actively seeks information to share with others. Sharers use a broad set of sources and, in particular, likes to leverage their network. They also like high level, big picture content that’s easy to share — think of short, animated videos and infographics. This segment brings new thinking and solutions into the organization and they can sell it to others.

The second segment, the ’Success-oriented’ person is looking for information that can help them, their team, or company improve performance. This person is a driver and if you can connect with them they will become an advocate for your brand or solution.

B2B marketing awoke to the need to infuse emotions into its messaging years ago and now we know that this personal connection resonates with this particular audience segment.

These are your marketing targets. They may or may not be decision makers or have a ’C-Level’ title, but one thing is certain, they are critical audiences for marketing messaging and performance.

Avoiding ‘Steady Eddies’ and battling the ‘challengers’

Now, let’s turn our attention to the two groups who are not targets. First up, are the ’safety-oriented’ individuals. These are your ’steady Eddies,’ and like nothing more than to stay within the status quo. They will take your content and use it to reinforce their current position. Marketing alone cannot dislodge them. That’s why you need to rely on an influencer, and/or others within the buying group to move them.

Last, but not least, are the ’challenge’ folks. They are motivated to deny or debate anything that is counter to their existing point of view. Happily labeled as skeptics, they engage late in the buying process and are often the last hurdle to overcome for a final decision. The upside is that once won over, they can become advocates but to win them you need a salesperson or an internal influencer.

Here’s the point, any one of these four personalities can be the CEO you’re targeting. But yet, we use one approach to develop content, and/or one way to engage them. Yes, they may have similar needs in the role, but they search and use information differently – and that is determined by their personality.

Until now marketing hasn’t had the ability to effectively read audiences. With sophisticated AI tools we can now customize content and approaches to attract certain types of prospects – the ones key to starting and advancing new opportunities. We can also improve lead nurturing activities by better understanding motivations, interest and connection with others within the buying group.

Finally, we have the opportunity to make a significant improvement in performance and satisfy audiences’ needs at the same time. Capturing this opportunity will require getting to know buyers, as not just a title or a role, but as a person. Because at the end of the process, a person is making a decision and that decision is personal.

How To Get A Better Return From ABM

How To Get A Better Return From ABM

Today there are an abundance of solutions available for sales and marketing, yet sales productivity still lags. On average, an ABM program could be using up to 16 different platforms. Scott interviews Usman Sheikh, Founder & CEO of xiQ on their solution and how organizations can get a better return on their sales and marketing investments.



To hear Scott’s entire conversation with Usman Sheikh, Founder & CEO of xiQ about “How To Get A Better return From ABM”, listen or download here:

Brand Transformation

Brand Transformation

With all of the changes and impact resulting from the pandemic, companies are repositioning their brand, offerings and services in the marketplace. Scott interviews Leslie Tullio, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at McDermott Will & Emery on these current challenges and discusses how to build authenticity into branding once again.



To hear Scott’s entire conversation with Leslie Tullio, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at McDermott Will & Emery about “Brand Transformation”, listen or download here:

Carbon Quadrants: The What and Why of Personality Based Marketing

Carbon Quadrants: The What and Why of Personality Based Marketing

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

If you are a business marketer and your organization has more than 4 personas, keep reading. Making things even worse, the personas you have are most likely sales personas or, more accurately, “selling scenarios.” I’ll explain.

Most B2B personas are built around a title or role and are constructed to identify the needs of the buyer in their role, which is helpful. They may align solutions with those needs, suggest the content that aligns with the buyer journey, and perhaps even identify the preferred sources of information they use.

All good things to have except that there is no “person” in the persona, which is what marketing needs in order to do its job right.

That job is to create awareness and drive interest in the brand, products and services of the organization. It’s not to sell. And this is where we run into problems. Most personas are built using the titles of buyers (budget holder, decision maker, user, etc) which may, or may not, be present at the beginning of the journey.

Marketing’s success is about finding audiences who are seeking information and getting them to do something with it. Share it, demand more of it, request to speak to someone about it. It may be too soon to know if that “someone” is a buyer, but what we do know is that it is a type of person. Two types actually, and it’s their personality type that determines it, and not their title or role.

Until recently, it was very difficult to understand the difference. In the past, we’ve collected engagement and/or intent information about buyers and guessed about their motivations and behaviors. With AI enabled personality profiling tools, we now have the chance to better understand our specific audiences, and when I mean specific, I mean down to the individual.

Personality based marketing (PBM) can help us understand how to write copy to attract these personality types. It can help us understand their content preferences for lead nurturing, and it can improve the overall performance of campaigns because we know which personality types will not engage or respond.

Why does that matter? Because according to Gartner, personally relevant content drives engagement, and that relevancy isn’t just about your job or role, it’s about you.

It’s about your personal preference for consuming content. Some people like “big picture,” quick to consume visualized assets such as animated videos. Others prefer long form white papers with details on how to use or implement a product. The difference is how those personality types intend to use the material and that speaks to their motivations.

For the big picture folks, the motivation is that they like to share new ideas with others. It makes them feel good about themselves. Others need information for their own purposes. To help understand how to improve the performance of their team, their platform, or their advertising efforts.

It’s why we created Carbon Quadrants. Our proprietary process for determining which personalities are most likely to match the behavior we need to improve response rates, consume or share content, and most importantly, play a critical role in the buying group.

Through our analysis we can also determine which audience segments are most likely to respond or not. Engage in the early stage of the buying process or skip it altogether. Through the use of AI tools we can know how to address audiences on a deeper, more meaningful level and as a result, improve the performance of marketing.

If you’re interested in improving the performance of your organization contact us to learn how Personality Based Marketing can help.

How The Pandemic Revealed the Way We Really Want to Work

How The Pandemic Revealed the Way We Really Want to Work

As previously published on 1/22/21 in Mediapost 

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

With the rollout of the Covid vaccine, companies are predicting that employees will begin returning to offices in mass during late spring or early summer; but will they? 

Due to office modifications required for greater distance between desks, along with other adaptations for protection, workers expect that their office schedule will alternate to allow for capacity constraints. The expectation is that they will be in the office every other day, with many hoping for 3 days at home and 2 days in the office, according to a recent survey in the Wall Street Journal. 

This schedule may appeal to convenient wisdom but it seems to ignore what we learned about how employees really want to work. 

Covid flipped the script on the work environment. Once, remote working was the exception and it has now become the rule, with the added challenge for many of online schooling for children. Houses were, and continue to be packed with family and for many, chaos rules the day. 

At the end of 2020, we set out to figure out how Covid had impacted the lives of our talent network, in particular, how they are balancing work with the new demands of being remote, especially, those who are working parents.

Our Workday Study, completed in December, provided unique insights into how people got work done in “new normal.” Our model uses independent talent (contractors, freelancers, etc.), which gives our talent the autonomy to make their own hours.  

As a result, they could openly share how they work, in a large part because they don’t have to worry about “business norms” regarding a “standard” work week or meeting a manager’s expectations on productivity. 

Survey participants were asked to record their time using a color coded system. Green indicated time dedicated to their personal time, red to their professional, and yellow a blending of the two. All time was captured in a shared document enabling us to view how their days compared with others.  

The first finding was that there is no such thing as a typical workday. No two people worked identical days. The second insight was that our days are long (17.5 hrs), with 6.4 hours dedicated to work, 6 hours to “life” and the remaining 5 hours to blending the two. 

What may be most interesting is what we termed the “Power Hours.” The time blocks that fully focus on work. Two segments of the day were consistent across the group —  9:30 am to 12 pm and 1pm to 3:30 pm. What was interesting is how it varied by working parent based on the age of their children. 

Parents with children under 10 started their work days later in the morning. Parents of children over 10, tended to wrap up their days earlier. Drilling down, we found parents of elementary school children needed time to get them ready for the day (off to daycare, set up for online classes, etc.). Parents with older children were often transporting their children to lessons (music, dance, etc) or practices (soccer, lacrosse, etc.).  

This insight presents an opportunity to create different “office hours.” Instead of alternating days, organizations could alternate “power hour” shifts during the day.  This could provide efficiency benefits of allowing workers to shorten commute times by avoiding rush hour, with the additional benefit of a schedule that meets the personal needs as parents. 

By offering mornings shifts for parents of older children, and afternoons for parents of young children can not only control for capacity issues. but also, provide better work-life balance for employees.

If we’ve learned anything from the last year it’s that we need to be adaptable. Flexibility, adaptability and perseverance were, and are, critical to getting through this difficult time. The pandemic gave us a glimpse into work from a different perspective. We gained insight into how people balance life and work, instead of the other way around. 

We’ve also learned that a person’s work schedule is as unique as they are. It’s now time to use these insights to advance how we think about productivity, the environment that enables it and how it aligns to the needs of the employee. This is an opportunity to evolve the workplace, and our traditional view of a workday, and workweek.