Even experienced B2B marketers are finding the rapid shift to online/digital/website/inbound marketing challenging. Buyer behaviour is rapidly shifting and B2B marketing campaigns need to adapt to catch up.
There’s no time to waste. Delay and your competitors will eat you alive!
Managing The Longer Buying Cycle
The B2B decision making process is considerably longer than the consumer buying process. B2B marketers must think about the whole go to market funnel, from very first point of engagement to the point the buyer becomes a customer and market to the entire funnel. Too often marketers support sales with quick end of quarter campaigns. Having a short-term mindset ignores the buyer’s needs earlier in the buying process and leaves the door wide open for your competitiors to influence buyers in their direction. Having the sales team hit a prospect with their sales pitch when they are not sales ready will simply alienate leads; put off by your pushy marketing.
Create marketing materials for customers at each stage of the buying cycle and distribute them at the relevant time, through an automated marketing system.
However, it is important to note that not only is the B2B buying cycle longer, it is also more complex. it is not a simple linear, logical process. Leads move back and forth in their decision cycle.
This means marketers have to develop a marketing campaign that guides them through the buying cycle, helping with their buying decisions as much as possible. Consider creating a lead scoring system based on actions prospects are taking. Got a prospect who suddenly downloads a demo and checks out your pricing page after 3 months of inactivity? Your account manager might just want to give the buyer a call!
Buyer Fears and Desires
A B2B buyer is typically driven by fear and desire. Fear of losing business and being behind their competitors and desire for efficiency, profit and security. In addition to this, on a personal level, the B2B buyer has a personal fear of loss of professional credibility and the desire to succeed and be recognized within their organization.
The emotional process a B2B buyer goes through is very different to a B2C purchase. Clearly purchasing a pair of shoes has fewer consequences than buying a fifty thousand dollar server with the company’s money!
These fears and desires need to be at the forefront of B2B marketing communications to achieve the best results. Aligning your communications with the specific problems of your B2B buyers will help guide them through their buying cycle and present your company as credible and trustworthy. Understanding and communicating about the emotional motivations of B2B buyers will help get you noticed, elevate your content and help create an affinity with your leads.
B2B marketers must understand and acknowledge all of the various stakeholders involved in the decision-making process and critically, be able to articulate the different perspectives and pain points that each individual has. A CFO will have a different pain point to a CIO or the head of sales.
For B2B marketers, this means their content must resonate with each stakeholder. The bottom line is B2B Marketers must understand multiple personas and create content relevant for everyone involved in the decision-making process.
Standing Out From The Crowd
The increase in internet use has had a huge effect on B2B buyers and in turn B2B marketing activities. B2B buyers spend more time on the web doing independent research gathering knowledge and weighing up options.
- On average buyers consume 10 pieces of content before they engage directly with a potential supplier.
- Over 85% of buyers say they found their supplier rather than the other way round.
This shift requires marketers to listen and reflect buyers pain points rather than shout about their products and services. B2B Marketers must provide genuinely valuable content for their audience in order to stand out from the crowd. This approach has the additional benefit of being very SEO friendly.
Marketers must place their content in places where their target buyers hang out on line and draw them to their website using smart, valuable content. B2B marketers must also be careful to set up “conversion pathways” on the site to convert visitors to leads.