Stop wasting your money; or why B2B marketers waste 19% of budgets

It's vital for every marketer to make their efforts effective and profitable without spending extra time and money

Sometimes 19 cents doesn’t seem like that much. For example, if you are in a hurry and your change from your purchase at a convenience store is less than 20 cents, you might tell the cashier to keep the change. Likewise, if you notice a dime or two on the street, you might not make an effort to pick that up. Of course, things would quickly change if those 19 cents was taken out of every dollar that you spent with nothing to show for it. It would certainly mean something if you woke up and realized that 19% of your grocery budget had disappeared. As a CMO or other B2B marketing professional, you would surely go ballistic if you learned that your team was squandering almost 20 percent of their budget. Wouldn’t you? Well, the truth is, on average B2B marketing efforts lose nearly 20 percent of the money they spend due to poor spending choices according to a recent study.

Obviously, nobody wants to lose that amount of money in their marketing efforts. The challenge is to figure out why this is happening. After that, the obvious step is to figure out how to avoid this kind of waste in our own marketing efforts. Here is some solid advice for doing just that.

Use segmentation to properly target everybody involved in the buying process

If you’ve closed even one B2B transaction with a medium or large company, you know that you have to reach out to multiple business areas before the deal is done. This often includes Accounting, IT, Administration, Operations, Business Development, and Finance. You also know that each business area has its own unique set of needs and concerns. Obviously, what it takes to get buy-in from operations isn’t what it takes to get buy-in from finance. Keep in mind that there are between 3.1 and 4.6 groups involved in a B2B purchasing decision.

Unfortunately, too many B2B marketers simply hit everybody with the same content and the same pitches. Then, they have to go back and spend additional time and money filling in the information that certain business areas feel they are lacking. It might be a good idea to take a popular page out of the B2C handbook and market segmentation instead. While B2C customers frequently segment on areas such as age, gender, previous consumer behavior, and interests, B2B marketers might benefit from creating segments based upon a business area. This way, content can be tailored to the needs and focus of each segment. For example, the content that you show operations staff might contain lots of information about the equipment that you sell with emphasis on ease of use and efficiency. On the other hand, you might want to show finance and accounting content proving the overall savings benefits of switching to your product over a 5-year term.

Understand what content your audience wants to see

Understanding the needs of the different business area is important. It is also important to understand the different types of content that work as potential customers move through the sales funnel. All too often, marketers fail to understand what customers are really looking for.

For example, at the top of the funnel, it’s all about building the relationship and letting people get to know your organization. There, blog subscriptions, follows, social shares are some of the most important things. Moving down to the middle of the funnel, and knowledge and information become significantly more important. People begin to explore whether or not you can solve their specific problems. This is where how to posts, trust leadership posts, white papers, and other content fundamentals that establish your company, as a source of knowledge and authority. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel are the customers who really want to see the goods. They seek product demonstrations, free trials and samples, and detailed descriptions of products and services.

Unfortunately, marketers often fail to deliver what customers wanted, based upon where they are in the funnel. For example, a month long product trial might be a much better incentive to answer a bottom of the funnel CTA than a free eBook. In addition to this, marketers often overestimate the value of case studies and peer testimonials to mid and lower funnel customers who are more interested in knowledge base posts, product data sheets, and video demos. Another consideration is the time sensitivity of the content needs of customers. Customers at the bottom of the funnel need actionable information and they need it as quickly as possible.

Emphasise trust over value

When asked, many customers will say that their relationships with their vendors are quite good. In fact, favorable comments are quite common. Unfortunately, generic superlatives don’t necessarily guarantee that a customer will continue a relationship with a vendor in the future. This is why the focus should be on identifying what it is that makes a customer-vendor relationship strong, and what makes that relationship grow. It may seem as if good pricing would be very important, but data shows that this ranks quite low. Trust is the number one indicator of a strong vendor-consumer relationship. This is followed by personal relationships and responsiveness. Focusing on improvements also ranks ahead of pricing. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that interaction and engagement are more important over the long term than cutting prices. The customer who feels as if they are getting the best discounts from you may not be nearly as loyal as the customer who feels you have their back.

Conclusions

The study referenced clearly indicates that a lot of the money wasted in B2B marketing is a result of wrongly predicting what customers value, what they want, and when they want it. This can be resolved by segmenting according to business area, working on building trust throughout the relationship with the customer, and shifting both approach and content offerings as customers move through the funnel. B2B marketers who do these things are far more likely to get a better return on their investment when it comes to marketing spending.