The most significant thing that differentiates B2B marketing from its B2C counterpart, is the length of the Buyer Journey.
B2C decisions are typically simpler and can even be made instantaneously, for example grabbing a chocolate bar at checkout. Obviously, there are other B2C decisions that require much more consideration, such as the purchase of a new car, which will involve a significant amount of research and evaluation of the different alternatives.
The amount of consideration here, however, pales in comparison to the B2B buying decision.
B2B purchase decisions often involve the consideration of a number of parties, as the end user of the product or service is typically not the person who is actually buying.
For example a large accounting firm requires software that is used by admin staff, accountants, management staff and other people throughout the business, however, the decision on the actual software will be made by one or two members of top-level management. Convincing them to choose your product or service over others can be an uphill struggle.
The fact that the key decision makers are not always the end user of the product or service makes the B2B Buyer Journey even more complex.
In some cases, the decision maker, or procurement team, may be unaware that a problem exists with the current products or services, or they may not realise that there are products and services available that can help bridge gaps in the current processes. As such, they are often not directly looking for what you are selling.
Through working with a number of B2B businesses across a range of industries, we created the Digital Marketing Mountain to help explain the varying stages of B2B Buyer Awareness.
By applying this, B2B marketers can better understand their audiences and the marketing messages and channels that can be most effectively used in order to move the prospect towards the peak, where they are directly looking for your services.
THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF BUYER AWARENESS
Each of the first four categories, from ‘Directly Looking’ through to ‘Unaware Prospects’ can be relevantly targeted through B2B marketing campaigns.
These categories sit at different stages of the buyer journey, with each requiring different communications, promotions, offers and digital channels.
Prospects who are in the buying process and are actively looking for the products or services that your business provides.
These prospects will be using search engines to research and evaluate their options before finally deciding on a solution. Communications to this group should be direct and prescriptive, detailing how your solution is better suited to their needs than your competitors.
As this audience is actively researching your products and services, targeting should be primarily search engine based on paid ads and Search Engine Optimisation. The most effective keywords to use should be associated with buying intent and evaluation of alternatives.
OPEN TO IT
The ‘Open to It’ group is made up of prospects who are aware they have a need for your products or service and are passively considering their options.
These prospects still have to go through the evaluation process, but require a direct communication approach to drive action.
As they are not actively considering your product or service, you need to spark this group’s attention. Communications should focus on the benefits of your product or service and how it can add value to their business.
This group will be made up of your ‘Target Customers’ and you will have a good idea of their characteristics, job role, business size and industry.
As such, with its unrivalled targeting options based on behaviours, demographics, and geolocation, Facebook or LinkedIn advertising is an excellent platform to reach this group as they are browsing online.
NOT THINKING ABOUT IT
‘Not Thinking About It’ prospects have a problem that your products or services can solve, but have not yet looked into solutions.
This group requires broader communication options to influence the motivations, overcome their objections and convert them into ‘consideration’ mode.
For this group, communications should focus on demonstrating how your products or services can help their business. T
he best way to do this is through Content Marketing, by creating eBooks, white papers, blogs, articles and other resources that educate the audience on your industry as a whole and show them how your brand can add value to them.
This information is only useful to the audience however if they can find it, so it is just as important to consider how to distribute the content, for example through Social Media and Paid Advertising placements.
DON’T THINK THEY ARE INTERESTED
These prospects are unaware of the problems that your products or services can solve, and as such it is much more difficult to engage them.
As above, the group requires broad communication that introduces them to your products or services and highlights how they can be of benefit to them.
This group are ‘cold prospects’, who are well qualified but that have little or no awareness of your company.
They can be reached through a range of advertising methods such as public relations, cold calling and networking to showcase your unique selling proposition.
The more you can interact with and engage these prospects, the quicker you can change their behaviour along the buyer journey from ‘awareness’ to ‘interest’.
KNOW THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED
This group is made of people who do not have the need for your products or services, who are not relevant to your business and should not be a focus of marketing efforts.
Identifying this audience will help reduce effort and waste of marketing resources.
At The Lead Agency, we love databases (such as email lists). But in what may be considered counterintuitive, we also want to reduce these databases and remove the unnecessary contacts that will never use your product or service.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR B2B MARKETERS
Your marketing budget is not exhaustive, and it’s important to focus your resources (both time and financial) on the segments that are most likely to give you results.
Targeting the ‘Directly Looking’ segment only will give you some quick wins, however, you are likely to run out of prospects very quickly. By targeting segments further down the mountain, you are effectively quadrupling your opportunities to introduce your brand to prospects.
You can then tailor your communications to start pushing prospects upwards and further towards purchase.
For more information on increasing awareness of your services in your target audience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Lead Agency.