It’s time to get your B2B marketing strategy in order
We want to deliver content that makes a difference to our buyers…not deliver more carefully curated product content “selfies”.
A classic American TV show, The Dating Game hit in the early 1970s in a simple format. A single woman she questioned three single men (who were hidden from her view) and at the end of the questioning period chose one of her to accompany her on a date. With limited information and time, singles have had to ask good questions to find out what singles can do.
Pop culture has embraced a whole new genre of reality TV shows, but the concept of asking thought-provoking questions to learn more about people is still a classic approach. That time has now come to the world of B2B marketing.
now up to the buyer
Let’s start with some basic facts. The B2B buying process has changed dramatically over the last decade. This change was gradual for him prior to 2019, but from 2019 he surged exponentially during 2020.
Second, today’s target “buyers” are often groups rather than individuals. Forrester found that 63% of his 2021 buying decisions involved four or more of his people. In 2017, this figure was just 47%. Not only will more buyers be involved, but more interaction and information will be required when researching purchasing options. According to Forrester, the average B2B buyer touched him 17 times in 2019. The same buyer now averages 27 touches. That’s an incredible 58% jump.
One final thing to remember is that the typical B2B buyer isn’t in the buying process every day of the year. Put them in the pipeline and depending on the lifecycle of the product, you may wait months or years before you are ready to explore your options.
To stem these changes, B2B marketers must support buyers looking for products and solutions that meet their specific needs. those who work in larger buying groups; those who seek information on multiple channels; those who spend more time doing independent research (and less time selling). People who are actively seeking new products for a limited time.
Related article: Why B2B marketing is a long game, not a hit-and-run SaaS play
Despite significant changes in buyer behavior, the B2B marketing approach remains essentially the same. By far, B2B marketing campaigns continue to promote organizational solution offerings rather than addressing basic buyer needs. Few companies clearly explain why buyers should buy their products, what their benefits are, and specific use cases.
In today’s buying environment, this is a big mistake. Marketers pay attention to buyers, empathize with their problems and opportunities, speak their language, understand underlying business or technical needs that need to be addressed, and understand how the solution will impact buying organizations. You need to be clear about what you provide value to.
But we can’t be too harsh as our fellow B2B marketers struggle to transition to the new buying reality. products), internal organizational structure (e.g. leading business units), and company initiatives (e.g. transformational migration to the cloud), have been steadily trained by employers over the years to focus on them. Focus on who your buyers are and what business issues they need to address.
But now is the time to change. B2B buyers expect more than that. Here is her list of five basic campaign planning questions that B2B marketers need to answer so they can create better, buyer-focused campaigns.
Related Article: B2B Marketing Suffering from Account Blindness?
5 important questions
1. Who do you sell to?
Rather than starting with a product or solution proposition, marketers should start with the buyer. Can you clearly identify your buying audience? Do you know who your primary buyer personas are? Do buyers vary based on different products and market segments? When answering these questions , don’t make assumptions. Speak with your sales reps to really understand who is involved in closing deals. For example, executives may want to sell her to the C suite (and drive marketing and sales to make this happen), but most sales are actually directed at her done at the level.
2. Why buy?
This is the most important (and often the most difficult) question to answer. Marketers need to articulate buyer initiatives, challenges and key needs. You need to understand how buyers describe the problems and opportunities they are tackling. What do buyers search for? Does this language vary by buyer persona or market segment? You need to understand the difference between your needs (the business or technical problem you’re trying to solve). To address these issues, it is imperative to spend time marketing your product and doing homework on the differences between buyer needs and behavior based on market segments.
3. Who makes the decisions?
As the data shows, B2B buying decisions are increasingly made in teams. Marketers need to understand the concept of buying groups and the role buyer personas play within them. Are your buyer personas champions, the primary sponsors of specific purchases? Are they decision makers? Are you a trusted source that plays a behind-the-scenes advisory role in key aspects of the buying process? Are you speaking to every persona involved in the buying group? If not, have your champions speak for you? and get support for your purchases? Understanding the role your buyer personas play as part of your buying group is critical. This is because it greatly influences the messages and content created for your campaigns.
4. How do you contact them?
To answer this question, don’t just think about standard marketing channels like emails and webinars. What influences a buyer’s decision (peer peers, previous experience with the company or solution, third-party research) and where the buyer persona gets information (online content, industry research, associations, company sales representatives) Who is the person? Understand this buyer’s behavior before deciding on the desired marketing mix for your campaign. Marketing teams that have gone through this thought process often find themselves over-rotating certain tactics (such as trade shows) and underutilizing other channels (such as content syndication).
5. What do you deliver?
You can define the ideal marketing mix to reach your personas, but are you telling them compelling and relevant stories? Think about the content and offers you offer your buyers. Does your content resonate with them? Does it address their business needs? Does it “speak” their language? Will your offer help move buyers forward to the next stage of their buyer journey, or help existing customers move further along the customer lifecycle? If the answer is no, Now is the time to conduct research with product marketing and existing customer advocates to understand key information. We want to deliver content that makes a difference for buyers. Rather than sending a “selfie” of more carefully curated product content.
Bottom line: B2B marketing takes effort
Some work is required to answer these important questions. But it’s worth the effort.
If you can answer these questions confidentially, you’ll have the knowledge to build next-level marketing campaigns that truly engage your buyers. In other words, the “dating game” of B2B marketing gives you the chance to go on dates and build long-term business relationships.