How Living in the 57% Will Impact Your Content Marketing Strategy in 2015
In their 2012 study The End of Solution Sales, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) revealed that 57% of a typical B2B purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier. This study, completed in conjunction with Google, provided insights into the buying habits and patterns of B2B buyers and also served to confirm the tectonic shift that is impacting marketing and sales professionals today.
While the shift in buying process now seems commonplace for the buyer, B2B marketing and sales professionals in most cases are still adjusting to this new world buying order. CEB states the following as part of the study:
“The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to. In recent decades, sales reps have become adept at discovering customers’ needs and selling them ‘solutions’ – generally complex combinations of products and services. This worked because customers did not know how to solve their own problems, even though they had a good understanding of what their problems were. But now, owing to increasingly sophisticated procurement teams with troves of data, companies can readily define solutions themselves.”
While there is some adapting that is occurring due to customers not needing sales reps the “way they used to,” there is a similar adjustment for marketing as they now live in the 57%.
The problem is this – in response to needing to live in the 57%, many marketers are developing content that attempts to define solutions for their customers. In their 2014 B2B Content Preferences Study, DemandGen Report findings show that 68% of B2B buyers advise B2B content marketers to “curb the sales messaging” and 64% advise to “focus less on product specifications and more on value.” This should come as no surprise as the CEB quote from 2012 clearly states that customers are quite able to do define solutions for themselves.
Given that buyers need less solutions content and more value content, this should have a monumental impact on the content strategy of B2B organizations. Throw out the excuses that I hear so often of “but sales is wanting . . .” It does not matter what sales wants, it matters what buyers are demanding.
As we begin 2015 and final strategies are being developed and budgets finalized, it is incumbent upon marketers to understand that not all content is created the same. It is now our job to develop content that engages and nurtures throughout that 57%, and once they do engage with sales, enable and train them on conversion content.
This requires more than just pumping out content to fill various channels which 57% of marketers do “all the time,” according to Forrester. This requires an understanding of the buyer, their buying path and content consumption patterns. It requires work to get this done, but this is the world in which B2B marketing now lives, welcome to the new world!
This is a guest post from Carlos Hidalgo, CEO/Principal at ANNUITAS. Download the full B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study here.