The phrase “the customer is always right” was coined by pioneering retailers Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker, and Marshall Field in the late 1900s. They realized the importance of listening to the customer. Marketers too can learn from this. It is important to listen to your prospects and provide them not only the information they need, but to put it in channels they most frequent.
Buckle up…It’s going to be a long ride
In a recent Forrester survey, they found that fifty-nine percent of B2B marketers say their biggest challenge is creating a personalized experience in the “discover” phase in order to reach new customers. What’s more, seventy-two percent of those surveyed said that an even bigger challenge was connecting with those anonymous buyers.
Many B2B marketers develop buyer personas – Emerson the IT Guy, Lake the CMO, Palmer the Media Buyer – and then try to create marketing content that suits each individual best. At its best, persona development is a somewhat educated guess. Personas work, but developing them and the content that fits them is a lot of work for what amounts to an educated guess about the true nature of your prospects.
Nonetheless, understanding your prospect and giving them the right content is incredibly important. Forrester has revealed that seventy-four percent of B2B buyers will conduct their research online before ever reaching out to a sales person. So you have to be there when they’re doing that research.
Content drives marketing
The days of directly selling to B2B customers is over if they ever existed at all. Fifty-nine percent of B2B marketers struggle to connect with a first-time potential customer, suggesting that something clearly needs to change.
More connected than any time in history, The B2B buyer in 2016 is savvy. They want information and solutions. Another sales pitch does not accomplish much without educational, highly relevant content at its heart. This, combined with a well thought out and strategic targeted advertising program will give you the necessary exposure to reach your target audience.
This, for the most part, is because marketers content is mostly failing their prospects. A marketing team can only develop a finite number of personas or chart a definable number of journeys. It’s increasingly difficult to create content for such a diverse ecosystem, where each individual forges their own path.
Indeed, “the customer is always right.” They know what they want, but do how can a b2b marketer know what they want before they reach out? Like Wannemaker, et al, realized early in the last century, you’ll never know what they want if you’re not listening.
Where we’re going we don’t need roads
The sales funnel is dead. Buyer personas are best-guesses. B2B buying committees are composed of more than five stakeholders. Product research can happen anywhere, at any time, and on any device. The formulae we’ve long applied to marketing are slippery at best. We need to change. We need to be listening.
Increasingly, B2B marketers are turning to intent data and predictive analytics to get a better understanding of what topics they should build their content around and why. By utilizing intent data to create content, they are now able to speak to the specific issues that their prospects may be struggling with in real time. Using intent data allows these marketers to keep their content fresh and relevant, instead of throwing a sales pitch at them and hoping it sticks.
To see more about how intent-driven content can revamp your content marketing strategy, check out this short video: Intent-Driven Content Marketing.