Why B2B marketing is not a one-night-stand

Understanding the buyer’s journey is key to building an effective marketing campaign.

By David Dodd, National Key Account Manager, Prime Creative Media

If your sales team is struggling to close deals, they are not alone. A study by Biznology found the average sales process takes 22% longer today than it did five years ago. With an increasing amount of information and advertising being delivered to their desktops and inboxes, buyers in the B2B space are becoming harder to seduce.

Today’s prospective clients need to be properly courted, with strategic marketing campaigns that consider the three critical steps in the buyer’s journey.

Step 1 – Awareness

The old saying “just put yourself out there” applies in marketing as much as it does in the dating world. Marketing campaigns need to begin with an awareness strategy. The goal is to enable your prospective buyer to discover what you’re trying to sell.

A good place to start is to work out exactly who your ideal customer is. Ask yourself what problem your product or service overcomes, and who cares most about overcoming that problem. Once you know exactly who you’re targeting, research the best media that your prospects are regularly engaged with. A multi platform approach in a trusted trade journal  is usually a surefire bet to reach and engage with your target audience.

Step 2 – Consideration

With your prospective customer now aware of your product, the next phase is about engaging with them through education. Catchy pick-up lines only work for so long – this is the “getting to know you” phase.

B2B businesses often make the fatal mistake of putting too much faith in their sales team during the consideration phase of the process. A 2016 study found that 57% of the decision process is made before the buyer engages with the sales team. To reach potential buyers is in this phase, businesses need to distribute branded information and resources the buyer is likely to look for.

Including in-depth content in a marketing strategy is critical at this stage. Whitepapers, solution guides, features, and case studies can educate potential buyers on why they need to have your product or solution. According to research by Meltwater, 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.

Step 3 – Conversion

In any relationship, there comes a time when you need to commit. The same goes for sales. Once a prospective buyer is engaged (awareness) and educated (consideration) it’s time to convert them into a lead, and then a sale.

In this step, ensure that your product is as easy to purchase as possible. This may be via online sales or clear company contact details. Landing pages and product brochures are essential requirements for the conversion phase, and need to be clearly linked from all pieces of content.

Modern technology allows for lead generation from many digital campaigns. Trade magazines and events provide fantastic opportunities to gather qualified leads. Providing your sales team with nurtured leads can lead to increased sales. A study by Annuitas found that 47% of clients made larger purchases with nurtured leads.

When companies try to measure ROI on single campaigns, they are effectively ignoring the process of building a relationship. An effective marketing strategy is about respecting the buyer journey, and delivering to your sales team a prospect that is ready to commit.