B2B buyers are changing the way they make purchases so marketers also need to modify the way they drive demand, says Matthew Stevens
A new self-service purchasing economy
There’s a saying that goes: “Business buyers are changing the buying process faster than marketing and sales organisations are changing.” In B2B, this couldn’t be truer. We’re now in a self-service buyer economy; an era where B2B buyers can source information on your brand and products, make their minds up without your help and be ready to buy at the click of a button.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
If we rely on an inside-out view of driving demand – ie. controlling the entire purchase within your marketing infrastructure – we risk being left behind by buyers.
When you consider that 75% of business purchases are influenced by social media sources, or that 90% of buyers will consult a peer as part of the process, relying on inward-facing automated programmes or cold approaches just won’t support purchasing behaviours any longer. This means we need to seek new ways to seed influence alongside them.
Moving from inside-out to outside-in
The modern model for driving demand should be founded on the idea that buyers can access all the information they need to progress almost all the way through the purchase cycle. This philosophy starts the shift towards a marketing ecosystem that’s built on an outside-in view on driving demand.
Outside-in is simply the process of building marketing engagements based around customer needs; marketing planning that’s continuous and centres around real-time market insight; messaging and propositions that are tailored according to their needs; and influence that’s placed through channels, platforms and people defined by their purchasing behaviours.
We should be aiming for ‘almost real-time’ engagements
To truly capture the eyes of our self-service buyers, the marketer of today must be empowered to act swiftly, in ‘almost real time’. Today’s buyers are all online, leaving continuous digital footprints that present an unparalleled advantage to marketing and sales.
By combining social intelligence, predictive analytics and programmatic, you can identify and target buyers in real time. But marketing teams are not currently set up to respond. We need to move to a more nimble approach whereby we can spot opportunities and respond with marketing content in ‘almost real time’.
Social intelligence starts the shift
To make the transformational shift towards seeding influence in a self-service buyer economy, you need to understand where your audience buys, what they’re motivated by, and who they listen to. This means that if you don’t have a social intelligence hub, you need one.
Continuous monitoring of buyer behaviours across the web means marketing and sales are empowered to identify opportunities to build real-time engagements based on customer needs.
A demand planning engine but not as you know it
Current planning cycles and approval processes are the biggest barrier to engaging with B2B buyers on their terms. The marketing team of tomorrow will not only be armed with real-time insight, but must be empowered through technology, process and culture to act on it. This means creating teams that can imagine, create and seed content into market in minutes and hours, rather than days and months.
Build your modern demand centre
It’s time to re-imagine your demand centre to stay relevant – a framework that empowers your buyers to take control of the purchase journey, but keeps your brand at the top of the shortlist. Let’s get started. We’ll bring coffee.
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