The Change in B2B – 4 Rules To Live By
According to the latest B2B Buyer research published by DemandGen Report, the world of B2B marketing is continuing the get more complex and our buyers more sophisticated. Some of the results from the 2015 B2B Buyers Survey Report, are as follows:
- 53% of buyers say their time to purchase has increased with 80% of those saying they are taking more time to research and 82% saying they are viewing more sources.
- 43% stated there is an increase in the number of people who are part of the buying committee with 48% saying there are 1-3 people involved and 35% stating there are 4-6.
- Buyers are increasingly using the web and social media as sources with 53% saying that social media played a role in their purchase decision.
- 52% of B2B buyers stated they viewed 2-4 pieces of content before making a decision and 28% stated they viewed 5-7 pieces of content.
- 85% stated they wanted a vendor with knowledge of their industry
When comparing these responses to the studies of 2013 and 2014, it is clear that B2B buying patterns are growing in sophistication and complexity. As a result, this causes disruption in the world of the B2B marketer and many B2B organizations still have not responded with the necessary changes in their organization and their process to adapt to the rapidly changing world of the B2B buyer.
While a blog will not be able to serve as a complete manifesto on the changes and new approaches marketers need to take in order to be successful in connecting with Buyer 2.0, below are four things for B2B marketers to think about to begin to initiate the needed change:
- Stop Talking About Yourself and Enable Sales
I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday who asked me what I thought about instructing sales to get inserted the buying process as early as possible to “paint the vision.” I asked her how many sales people she knew that were truly industry experts that could paint a vision without pushing their products?
Much of the content or discussion I have with vendors (either digitally or with their sales people) is all focused on them – their products, their services, their unique value proposition. What about the buyer? It is imperative that B2B organizations begin developing content that is much less about what they want to say and tailored to what the buyer wants to hear.
Marketing content should educate and create a dialogue about challenges and issues that are unique to the buyer. This dialogue must extend through to the sales conversation and it is marketing’s job to help educate and enable sales to have this conversation.
- It’s a Multi-Channel World
According to the study, B2B buyers use a multitude of mediums to research and explore their purchase options with the web, specifically with social media leading the way. This highlights the need for our marketing messages to be accessible across an array of mediums, not just email.
In order to determine the proper medium, it is imperative that organizations know how their buyers like to consume content and ensure their content is accessible via these channels. Too often organizations rely on social, web and email as the go-to channels and while these are often used; to just assume these are the only channels your buyers uses to consume content is a dangerous proposition. Ensure you are utilizing the channels that your buyers are using and make your content available across all of them. Think multi-channel.
- You Will Need More Relevant Content
The days of selling to “the decision maker” are largely over. Multiple buyers with different perspectives and biases are all part of this process and it is necessary to speak to all of them. Consequently, this impacts the content creation process.
While many organizations are spending and creating more content, one must ask if this is the right content? Marketers must begin to understand the various roles that are involved in the buying process and create content specific to them. It is then that marketing will see an improvement in the value of their content and not before. More isn’t better, it’s about relevance.
- Strategy Is a Must
As the respondents to the study indicated, the buying process is becoming longer in the majority of cases, not shorter. This only underscores the need for B2B marketing organizations to move away from tactical one-and-done campaigns, to a strategic approach that maps content to this buying process and Engages, Nurtures and Converts the buyer throughout their buying process.
What does this mean? It means that our demand generation programs always have a sense of “what’s next” in terms of content. It means that marketers should not be promoting an asset, but seeking a conversation. This requires a buyer-centric strategy and without this in place, there is no way marketers will be successful in connecting through this ever-growing buying process.
For B2B marketers, the complexity and world in which we operate in a day-to-day basis will only continue to shift, change and grow with increasingly complexity. A tactical approach of spending, creating and pushing more of anything, is not the answer. There must be real transformation that enables us to get to know and Engage our buyers at a deeper level and ultimately, meet them where they are in their process. It’s all about the buyer.