We talked to 20+ B2B marketers and gathered their thoughts on the Buyer’s Journey to uncover trends and thoughts around the new problem that all B2B companies face. With the recession continuing to determine an undetermined fate for companies, standing out in a saturated market is your sure fire way to success. But what can brands do? How do brands pivot? Our series Marketing Experts on: the Buyer’s Journey hopes to answer all questions and provide more insights.
SKEPTICISM TOWARDS SALES
Buyers are buying differently. There is no secret about that. What’s affecting this change? The amount of information that is readily available at the tip of our finger. As consumers, we are able to access over 5 million terabytes of information in less than 5 seconds – depending on your thumb-typing speed and connection, of course.
To put that in perspective, Google only accounts for roughly 0.004% (200 terabytes). THAT’S CRAZY.
As UGC and other consumers or buyers are given the platforms to voice their own opinions, the power and main information holder is no longer the brand, but in fact, the people. Millennials which make up more than 35% of the workforce are more increasingly skeptical of sales people, 2x more resistant than baby boomers and 40% more reluctant than Gen X. The willingness to talk to sales on the phone is not there anymore.
Carol Meyers breaks this down further:
According to Gartner, only 17% of time is spent meeting with potential and multiple suppliers. However only 5% of the buyer’s journey is actually spent talking to one brand or sales rep. And because of the skepticism and reluctancy met with sales, buyers now spend much more time (over 80%) in the awareness and consideration stage of their journey.
So what can brands do to stand out? What are buyers looking for?
1. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Buyers want and need more self-serve options. They need to be spoon-fed information.
Often times, buyers are directors, C-level execs, or VPs. And frankly, they’re aware and proactive, but at the same time, there is just not enough time in their day to search for the optimal solution. It’s like looking for not just that one needle in a haystack, but the BEST needle in MULTIPLE haystacks. It’s doable but who really has time? There are so many different solutions out there for each pain point.
Alice Ko and Justine Woo both all weigh in with their different opinions here:
2. SELF-SERVE HELPFUL CONTENT
And brands can help narrow down exactly what buyers need with content. Lots of content.
Make your customers the hero. Address their pain points and point buyers to options or answers. Not necessarily that your brand is the answer, but a possible answer. Be helpful and intentional when creating content. More than 60% of C-level execs said they were more willing to pay a premium to companies that create thought leadership with a clear vision.
And who knows, by being helpful you may even resurface a pain-point, creating a higher sense of urgency and priority.
Not just at the end of their journey, but throughout the entirety of their journey. The best B2B companies are positioning themselves as thought leaders – guiding B2B buyers through every step of the journey. And guess what? 95% of buyers choose the company that provides them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the process.
Matt Lim sums it up in the best way possible, saying that there are many different types of content and it all depends on how we like to consume content.
Not to sound cliche, but it’s not the destination, but the journey to the destination. And as buyers change their buying expectations and habits, so should marketers.
Sean Sandhurst’s bottomline is: Brands need to be there at the right time with the right message to the right people on the right channel.
And as easy as that is in a sentence, accomplishing this isn’t the easiest. But that’s why a marketing led strategy is of utmost importance and the shift that needs to happen.
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