How to Use Insight to Get in Front of Buyers

Posted by JamieKelly on a Friday in July, 2013

Corporate buyers now have access to an ever-mounting volume of information on any solution area they are interested in. New expert analysis, advice, and thought leadership is released by the minute through social media, blogs and a plethora of ebooks and whitepapers. This gives marketers a whole new set of challenges and opportunities to stand out and influence purchasing decisions, and the B2B arena is no exception.

5 years ago, IT organisations were focused on driving customer awareness with outbound marketing campaigns, but now IT buyers can learn about solutions at the touch of a button. They are speeding past the initial stages of the buying cycle and jumping straight to a state where they are ready to define potential solution requirements. And often they’ll take the easier option of contacting the company who Tweets more visibly, or is more vocal in a LinkedIn group.

To break this trend and get in front of the buyer before the requirements have been scoped, it’s critical that technology vendors focus heavily on building their online reputation and influence buyers with targeted thought leadership marketing at the early stages of the buying cycle.

B2B marketers need to follow three principles:

1. Plan and understand your target audience and what stage in the purchasing cycle they are in. Unless you’ve profiled your customers well and have good analytics on areas like licensing, support renewals, budget cycles, and sales trends you’re not going to be able to generate any long term revenue.

2. Use content that is relevant to that audience, compelling enough for them to engage, and appropriate for the purchasing stage they are at. Be sparing but relevant with content; no-one has the time to get swamped in the Twittersphere and blocked by a mountain of blogs offering similar but different advice. The content should be personalised, relevant and action-oriented.

3. The third principle is around dialogue. By nurturing a relationship and engaging on an ongoing basis through content marketing and trigger-base marketing activities, you can move that buyer through the buying cycle in a phased and organised approach.

The traditional ways of engaging around marketing don’t change, but it’s now more important than ever before to be more focused and engaged at each round of the buying cycle.

To really stand out, you need to concentrate your efforts on speeding up the buying process for clients.

Start with detailed data analysis to understand your target audience (both existing and lapsed customers) and their buying behaviours. In that way, identify the hot spots and business needs of individual contacts within the target audience. Going through a RFV analysis (Recency, Frequency, Value) of existing clients can really help to shed light here.

Next is to understand the hot topics in the market place through social media monitoring. Today’s participatory mobile environment means that vendors have little control over where, when and how their information is pulled and digested. Conversations in online communities, apps, and social pages, which holds so many customer perceptions and recommendations, are flashed across multiple countries, organisations and people at lightning-fast speed. Social listening can help you gain valuable insight and highlight trends that, if mapped on to the business needs you exposed through the RFV analysis, will clearly signpost the direction you should base your marketing strategy in.

Of course, it’s not just about listening – but social participation as well. Actively promoting thought leadership by directly engaging in those online communities and fuelling online conversations is a good way to get in front of the buyers during their research phase.  But unless you focus that participation by engaging audiences with value propositions developed for different stages in the buying cycle, you’ll merely be adding to the noise. If you consciously target decision makers according to their readiness to buy (rather than by job role, industry, and other traditional segmentations) you will really extend your digital influence.

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gareth3

Gareth Clark is a Senior Account Director in Quantum with over 15 years experience within the B2B marketing agency arena. He has led sales teams across EMEA and USA, as well as delivered marketing consultancy to B2B marketers within global tier 1 technology clients. Gareth has demonstrable experience in managing, implementing and analyzing bespoke / measurable integrated marketing and sales programs for global brands.

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