B2B marketing has never been simple.
Buyers typically require more education than the standard consumer to make a decision.
The buying process tends to be complex, with layers of approvals necessary.
The latest report from DemandGen shows that the B2B buyer’s journey is only getting more involved.
- 53% of buyers report that their time to purchase has increased – and 80% of those said they are taking more time to research
- 43% stated there are more people on the buying committee – 48% of those said there are 1-3 people involved and 35% said there are 4-6
- 52% of B2B buyers surveyed said they viewed 2-4 pieces of content before making a decision, and 28% said they viewed 5-7 pieces
What does this mean for B2B companies and marketers? It means that, if you haven’t already, it’s time to adapt.
The disruption of the Internet has already happened. Buying paths have already changed. Buyers are already more sophisticated.
If you haven’t changed your approach to attracting leads, nurturing prospects and making the sale, you’re behind the curve.
Don’t Demand Face Time (or Phone Time… or Email Time)
I spoke with a company recently that was very interested in creating an e-book to generate leads and build credibility in the marketplace. But they were nervous about investing the money in creating the content.
Totally understandable. Every business has a budget to consider.
However – all of their main competitors had a great deal of content available on their websites. Some of it was gated (it required a viewer to provide their name and email address to download) and some of it was not – but the simple fact that it existed made those companies easier to deal with and more credible to the modern B2B buyer.
I broke it down this way. B2B buyers are less likely to pick up the phone and talk to a sales person today. They’d rather do some research up-front before speaking to anyone. In fact, they might even need to discuss the matter with multiple people (or a committee) first, in which case they need quality content to present.
The company I spoke to gave potential buyers only one option: speak to someone. (And by “speak,” I include email in that.)
This company’s competitors gave buyers two choices:
- Email or call for more information
- Download or view professionally-created content to better understand the company, its expertise and its experience. Content that can also be used to pitch the idea to a committee
Considering what you now know about the modern B2B buyer from the DemandGen survey, who do you think potential buyers would lean toward first?
Your Updated B2B Marketing Approach: Where to Start
If you’ve been doing things the same way for years, the idea of changing your marketing approach – especially leaning more on content marketing – can be overwhelming. So start with these three things for bigger impact right out of the gate.
Stop talking about yourself
I’ll be frank. Your buyer doesn’t care about you.
They care about getting a solution. They care about solving a problem. They care about what’s in it for them.
So think hard about this. What does the copy on your website focus on? Is it talking about your company, its history and its solutions? Or is it talking about the buyer’s problem and what they can expect when they buy from you?
What about your content? Are your blog posts helpful, educational or inspirational – or do they just talk about your offerings? Do you have white papers, case studies or guides that prospects can download to review and share with their colleagues?
Focus your marketing on the most important person in the buying equation: the buyer.
Stop talking about yourself and start talking about your buyer.
Consider the committee
Those survey stats don’t lie. The buying process involves more people than it has in the past. While the final decision-maker is still an important person to consider, the committee (or the group of people that must come to a consensus about a purchase, however loose that group is) is often the gatekeeper to the decision maker.
Is your content helpful to that group of people? Does it consider the various roles (finance, management, technical, etc.)?
Make your content relevant to the multiple people that will be making the buying decision.
This might involve creating multiple versions of content, too. For example, for white papers about a computer widget:
- How to reduce hard-drive failures (for the techs)
- Increase cost savings by reducing hard-drive failures (for the finance/accounting folks)
- How to decrease employee downtime by reducing hard-drive failures (for managers)
Factor time into your strategy
Nurturing buyer relationships over time is not only a smart sales move, it’s also becoming more necessary as buyers take more time to make a purchasing decision.
Tactics like social media are helpful for generating leads, but have you considered a longer-term strategy? How are you keeping prospects engaged with your company after they’ve taken notice of you?
Consider content mapping in your marketing strategy. Start by understanding your buyer’s journey from lead to sale (and beyond). Then, beginning with where the buyer entered the path, map out where they will go next, and next after that, and next after that.
- Lead clicks on a Facebook ad
- Ad takes them to a landing page where, once they enter their name and email, they can download a free e-book
- At the end of the e-book is a link to a webpage with case studies
- At the end of those case studies is a prompt to view a product page
- On the product page is a link to a product guide
You are leading the buyer down a path, or funneling them, to a conversation with your company. At each step, you are providing value – shareable value – in the form of content.
These are just a few ideas about how you can change your marketing approach to meet buyers where they are today. But as technology continues to evolve and buying habits continue to change along with it, it’s critical for companies to keep adjusting their strategies. Status quo won’t lead to revenue growth.
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