Marketing plays a more vital role than ever in the buying process. A majority of B2B buyers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before even connecting with a seller (Accenture, 2018). Yet 90% of buyers are willing to engage sellers earlier if the seller is providing real value (CSO Insights, 2019).
Buyers are consumers first and foremost, and they have come to expect a similar buying experience when it comes to their B2B environment, where the seller provides insights and content that prove they understand the buyer and their needs.
How can marketers prove they understand their target buyers and that their company can serve them with relevant solutions? In order to engage a target buyer in the buying journey and keep them engaged, marketers must focus their best efforts on three pillars.
Generate compelling content
While content creation is rampant across industries today, it is important for marketing departments to distinguish between general content and compelling content if they wish to stand out from the slush piles of information. Compelling content is not about a brand or an offering. Buyers find little value in reading a 16-page brochure about a company’s solution.
Compelling content provides new insights, a new point of view for the buyer that challenges their status quo while offering a vision and a new path forward. Ideally, it features a buyer use case with which they can relate and can gather new information about their situation and their options to get ahead.
To ensure your marketing content proves compelling to the buyer and seeks to serve the buyer, check how you position the article: Is it content anchored in what matters to the reader or is it simply a repackaged feature of your brand and what you offer?
Increase marketing awareness
Whether it is through public relations, social media or a variety of other channels, your marketing department’s next step is to distribute the compelling content across multiple channels in the marketplace, to soften the minds and hearts of the target buying audiences.
Social media is an attractive outlet for doing so, but it is important for B2B marketers to look to local media as well, plus other relevant channels and “watering holes” target buyers are connecting with and where they will likely encounter your compelling content. Uncover your target buyer’s journey and identify how to intersect your compelling content at the right moments, in the right places.
As your marketing team is sharing compelling content, ask yourself, “Are we sharing content here because it is easy, or are we sharing it here because our target audiences will find it here and reap its value?”
Demand generation also lies in marketing’s realm and supports sales enablement. This can include activities such as digital marketing, print, cold calling, prospecting and alliances. Ideally, this becomes a blend of highly scalable approaches and one-on-one approaches. Despite the growing trend of digital marketing, one-on-one conversations still take the lead in effectiveness.
The real trick is transforming these one-on-one conversations between sellers and buyers into higher-quality discussions where the sellers become positioned as trusted advisors. Marketing teams can enable sellers to achieve this, and through the previous two steps, they actually already have.
To ensure demand generation is as effective as possible, consider whether salespeople will actually use the pieces to initiate or deepen meaningful conversations, or are you creating these things to hit a quantity mark?
Integrating the pillars
The true economies of scale come from leveraging these pillars together in an interdependent fashion. Undertaking any or all three of these pillars in silos can have nearly as negative impacts as not performing these marketing activities at all.
The packaging of compelling content in a way that makes a connection with the buyer is golden, be that a connection made online or in-person. It sticks with a buyer and brings credibility to the seller. Ultimately, serving the buyer is what sets effective marketing apart from misaligned efforts to promote your product or service.
Jay Mitchell is founder and president of B2B consulting company Mereo LLC.