B2B Marketers and Buyers need to interact differentlyBy Jon Gatrell on June 1, 2010
So I spent some time the other day writing about the 7 expectations of a social buyer and the more I thought about it, it became evident that it isn’t the expectations of a social buyer, but more so buyers in general in a connected world. We ultimately need to address the needs of the buyer as much, if not more than the sales force as B2B marketers. Selling is one thing, buying is definitely another and it is that later that has changed with the emergence social for all industries.
With so many social options out there for buyers, the sourcing for products/solutions is different and so is the expectations of the availability of information and offers. Remember when the RFP or the trade show was the best way to source options? Those day are gone for many of us B2B technology marketers. Buyers want information on their time lines (or at least their managers). So as I think more about the expectations of buyers, I’m going to write a little more detail on each of the 7 items buyers expect and maybe even change them a little bit over time as I write, but as of now here is where I am when thinking out buyers and their expectations:
7 Expectations of a Buyer
- I want offers and promotions which are valuable to me
- I want you to understand how I buy
- I don’t want mass communications and generic content
- I want to buy on my own time line, no matter when your quarter ends
- I want to tell you when you suck and when you don’t
- I want to do business with folks which include me in their processes
- I want to recommend products and companies to others I know.
So as we look at how each of us engages our marketplace and buyers with promotions, it is important we utilize as much data as possible to position “best fit offers” into existing customers, but also potential customers. Sometime we should be asking why things work, why things don’t work and in general why our buyers are even in the market to better address the needs of the buyer to better position offers and promotions which are actually compelling/valuable.
Our daily life is cluttered with shotgun/spray and pray offers just – check your inbox/spam folder, Twitter stream and Facebook walls for messages that don’t resonate with you as a buyer. Our online and offline existence as consumers in both a B2B and B2C context is filled with “missed the mark” marketing campaigns and social engagement which we either ignore or earns someone a block or unfollow. The approach to marketing for many marketers or self-proclaimed marketers is “I have an email list, so let’s play the numbers.”
This approach might work for some companies/products/industries — providing you have a big enough list, a low enough set of expectations and a corporate misson to pursue the random transactions there could be fruit in a legacy marketing path, but overtime opt-outs, inbox rules and spam filter enhancements will limit the productivity of your campaigns, if they haven’t already. Did you know that up to 20% of all emails, even non-spam, aren’t delivered? So you just might want a different approach based on technology hurdles which exist, but also the fact that most of us just don’t have the time or attention to deal with poorly crafted messages and targeted promotions.
This attention issue isn’t just an email phenomenon… the same issue exists in all mediums… we all flip past ads in magazines, ignore Google Ads and TV commercials which have no relevance to us and with the shrinking attention span of buyers/consumers, it is theorized that we only have 9 seconds to get their attention as marketers or they are off to the next article, webpage or search term.
So what can we do as marketers to enhance our effectiveness and outreach to our target buyer personas? Here is a couple of ideas of how to improve engagement:
- Know what your buyer cares about: Understand their goals, their problems and speak to them in their vocabulary, don’t know what your buyers care about? Ask them.
- Actually use the information you have about your buyers: Don’t have enough data on a given customer? a whole customer segment? Buy some extended data to round out your understanding of your customers from a systematic perspective for better targeting your messages and offers. Better yet provide folks an opportunity to provide more information, most folks will provide it so long as you use it wisely. Cisco has a great B2B example of how to collect extended customer profile information.
- Treat existing customers as new buyers with every engagement: Don’t assume since someone has does business with you that they will buy again because of a discount or pending holiday. Social engagement is just different and is impacting loyalty overall.
- Buyers often care more about community feedback than anything you can tell them: Provide easy access to what the community is saying about you, your products and your service directly from your website. Make buyers feel included the community immediately.
- Think about how you engage your buyer as a platform for developing a relationship, not generating transactions: Develop the right strategies and goals for your business and your partners (customers/buyers/business partners), then worry about your internal processes and systems. Too many marketers and companies see current processes, systems and internal data requirements as core requirements and typically buyers aren’t interested in what YOU need, just what they need.