Take these four (often overlooked) steps to attract savvy B2B buyers and increase pipeline efficiency.
Moving toward a buyer-centric marketing model is an essential strategic requirement in B2B marketing today.
As marketers, we have a tendency to indulge in marketing strategies that focus on OUR priorities, our key messages and our current content assets first. A buyer-centric model naturally prioritizes the buyer’s business challenges and the questions they need answered to make a purchase.
And there’s good evidence that the buyer-centric model is working. At the 2011 SiriusDecisions Summit, Athena Varmazis—American Express Director of Corporate Payment Solutions—provided a great case study that proved the success of adopting a buyer-centric marketing approach and technology solutions to support nurturing communications.
Before adopting this approach:
- Precious resources were being utilized to call on cold leads and provided limited visibility into lead quality
- Marketing qualified leads were converting to sales at a rate well below average
After adopting the buyer-centric approach:
- They increased the quality of leads
- They closed a significantly higher percentage of leads
So instead of kicking off strategic marketing discussions with defining messages, tactics, marketing channels and assets you want to promote, take four steps back and start with the buyer!
Step 1: Identify and segment the audience: Who are the buyers (and influencers) of your solution?
If you’re connecting with your customer base—or trying to convert a known prospect base—you likely have the critical information in your marketing database (e.g., the decision-making and/or job roles). Plus you can always consult your sales team for information that can be analyzed to determine “who” this audience really is.
In B2B tech marketing, it’s typically important to consider variances in your business-oriented buyer vs. the IT buyer. It’s also important to identify any key influencer types, or researchers.
If you’re just getting started with segmentation, consider limiting yourself to 2-3 key target segments for a particular initiative. You can always expand once you’ve mastered these!
Beyond identifying your core audiences, sub-segmentation within these audiences will enable you to target your content and messaging to be as relevant as possible.
Sub-segmentation will vary greatly depending on your top-level of segmentation, but may include variables like vertical, organization size or geography.
Step 2: Develop personas
Now that you’ve identified your key audiences, you need to find out what they care about and how to speak with them for best results.
Ideally, we’d always have the time and budget to commission formal persona research, complete with focus groups and well-targeted online surveys. But you can also collect information to inform personas by:
- Reading the blogs and other media your audience reads
- Joining the LinkedIn groups they are active in
- Talking to your salespeople (they are the closest point of contact with your audience, after all)
Step 3: Define the buyer’s journey
The key purpose of the buyer’s journey is to reveal the questions that the buyer (or influencer, or researcher) needs answered in order to make or influence a buying decision. Typically the buyer’s journey can be broken into four quadrants, and should address the key questions your buyer will have.
- Discover: “What issues am I dealing with?”
- Consider: “What options do I have to solve this (these) problem(s)?”
- Evaluate: “Which of these solutions is best? What are the core benefits and disadvantages of each?”
- Advocate: “What will my TCO or ROI look like? What are the best practices for this type of solution?”
Step 4: Map content to the buyer’s journey
Almost there! Next you need to do a thorough review of all content assets to determine which quadrant (discover, consider, evaluate or advocate) they best serve.
Although this can seem daunting at first, you’ll find it’s much easier to “know” what kind content will be relevant to your audience after completing persona development and defining the buyer’s journey.
Additionally, it will become clearer which specific content assets will match each of the personas within the audiences you’re targeting.
Note: Following the content mapping process, you’ll often see glaring “gaps”: quadrants without relevant content. Consider these gaps your roadmap for new content development.
Now, go full steam ahead with your campaign work—and you’ll find you’re already a GIANT STEP ahead!