The new marketing insight about habits

How many B2B marketers build habits with their buyers pre purchase? 

What do we think? 

Like, the buyer willingly consumes or engages with something created and delivered by Marketing repeatedly for months. 

Do we think 10%? Maybe less, right?

If we’re being honest, very few of us think about our work through this lens. 

We’ve been conditioned to think about marketing through a lens of (1) activities/outputs and (2) results/outcomes.

But in marketing, it’s that stuff right in between that determines everything. 

  • Are we establishing a connection?
  • Are we earning the right to stay engaged?
  • Are we showing up regularly with something meaningful?

And is all that leading to the buyer developing a new habit around consuming or engaging with our stuff? 

A new habit. What if that was our focus? 

At a time when distribution is completely broken and most struggle to get in front of their buyers in a reliable and scalable way, it seems that building habits with our buyers might just be the most valuable thing a marketing team can do now. 

It’s not about, let’s say, launching a podcast. 

It’s about building a habit with buyers to listen to your podcast (or even to begin listening to podcasts). And of course that’s the hard part. 

Admittedly, this newsletter is partly about building a habit with you. 

“Will this great marketer open the newsletter when it drops every Friday and actually read it? Are they subconsciously making time for Elevate Demand to bring them some insights at the end of every week?” 


You know when people say stuff like “I’d rather have 10 dedicated fans than 1000 weak leads,” right? 

That’s really about habits. 

Those 10 people have developed habits favorable to the business whereas the 1000 have not. That’s why they’re far more valuable. 

So how do we get buyers to develop these habits? 

Whoever says they have a magic formula is obviously full of it, but we found an article in MarketingWeek that suggests most psychologists agree that habit formation requires at least three basic elements: 

  1. A cue or trigger
  2. A reward
  3. Lots of repetition

Motivation is not enough – we must create a cue that will prompt the behavior. Is sending an email every Friday a strong enough cue? Perhaps not. 

Lots can be said and done around rewards, but “uncertain rewards” have proved to be particularly effective. Like, there’s a (reasonably high) chance of you getting this reward if you do this. 

And… It takes longer than we want it to, so repetition is our friend. 

But back to our immediate reality as marketers right now:

In order for buyers to reach aha moments and ultimately experience the value we provide, we have to solve our distribution problem. 

We have to (A) establish distribution that gets us in front of buyers regularly and (B) build habits that reinforce that distribution channel and create paths for longer term engagement. 

It’s not about just getting ads in front of people. It’s not about just putting content out there. It’s not about awareness. 

It’s about building habits as part of fixing your distribution problem. To drive aha moments. And give buyers a chance to experience your value.