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Business to business behavior is changing: adaptation is required

Even experienced B2B marketers are finding the rapid shift to online/digital/website/inbound marketing (pick your favourite acronym – we prefer the term “Inbound Marketing”) challenging. Buyer behavior is rapidly shifting and B2B marketing campaigns need to adapt to catch up.

There is no time to waste.

Delay and your competitors will eat you alive.

Managing The Longer Buying Cycle

Challenge: 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.

Solution: 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! And yes, technology is essential and even expected here, to track the behavior of visitors through the site and provide ongoing intelligence on the exact pages your visitors are looking at.

Buyer Fears and Desires

Challenge: A B2B buyer is typically driven by fear and desire. This is especially true in today’s economy, where B2B buyers fear that the wrong purchasing decision could cause them to lose their jobs. We don’t believe in negative selling. So instead of frightening your prospect to death, remember to use persuasion and trust markets on your landing pages that underline that your solution is trusted and accepted by others in the category. Underline the benefits and not just the features of your product. Benefits include how purchasing your product or solution will help your potential prospect close more business, get a leg up on their competitor, and generally look like a star.

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 storage solution with the company’s money.

Solution: These fears and desires need to be at the forefront of the content you develop to achieve the best results. Aligning your content marketing 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 to the emotional motivations of B2B buyers will help get you noticed, elevate your content and help create an affinity with your prospects.

Multiple Personas

Challenge: B2B marketers must understand and acknowledge all of the various stakeholders involved in the decision making process and crticially, 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.

Solution: For B2B marketers, this means developing highly customized and targeted content to resonate with specific stakeholder. One size does not fit all when it comes to content.

Standing Out From The Crowd

Challenge: 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 about products and solutions, creating a short list of alternatives, and weighing 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.

Solution: 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.

One Response

  • Jan 23, 2013

    Great article. The most valuable information marketing can deliver to sales is related to a prospect or customers’ propensity to buy specific products. B2B Purchase Behavior Data–what companies buy and how their behavior changes over time–is the most reliable indicator of a prospects’ intent and/or capacity to buy. Fortunately, B2B purchase behavior data is now available and is rapidly becoming a highly-valuable corporate asset.

    Aaron Jan 23, 2013