Some of our recent work at Mind Methods Agency reminded me of the importance of another fundamental sales and marketing process. Early on in my career, I ensured that every campaign I developed was grounded in fundamental principles. I would use that foundation as my base and then evolve, test and challenge it to suit the context, incorporating new tools and tactics that applied most appropriately at the time. I stuck to this formula with success. I still do.
So here's the example.
In the land of Business to Business or B2B, (yet another killer business acronym), the Buyer Decision-Making Journey is an essential fundamental process to remember. It involves understanding the ways in which your customers/clients and prospects go about purchasing a product or service from you (or your competitors).
If you market and sell to businesses, the buyer decision-making journey is a process that you should be making a top priority. As you look to service the needs of your prospects, you will need to ensure that you are giving them the right pieces of information at each point within their own purchase decision journey.
Customer Buying Journey
Below I've provided a simple summary of this journey. I also outline a few examples that you could incorporate into your own marketing communications plan (because, you obviously have one...)
1. Need Recognition
The solution to every problem begins with recognising that the problem exists. Often, there are problems or opportunities that a business may not be aware of. Your B2B Marketing should provide communications that help businesses identify these needs. Even when they are aware of the need, they may not fully understand the impacts of not addressing the need, so your marketing can help shed some light on these issues.
Your B2B Marketing Activities should include a range of initiatives or communications that are aimed at helping businesses identify specific needs they might have. Within these activities you can clearly illustrate the ways that your offerings help with addressing those needs successfully. Some example activities to deliver these messages include Events, Blog Articles, Targeted Emails (eDMs), and Social Media Posts.
2. Information Search
Once the need to address a problem or capitalise on an opportunity is recognised, a business will commence their information search. Your B2B Marketing Strategy will need to be robust in it's design so that your information is quickly found when businesses are searching for information.
More than ever before, consumers are conducting extensive research prior to engaging with any one provider. This is no different in B2B, as the information search can be quite extensive prior to making contact with any one provider. It is for these reasons that your B2B Marketing should include detailed information through a range of materials such as Whitepapers, e-Books, and Templates.
The other critical aspect is to ensure that your material is found. In 2016, a large part of this is capitalising on the power of online marketing techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO, Online Advertising, Online Re-marketing and Social Media). These can be used alongside your traditional sales & marketing techniques to ensure that your information is found by interested businesses.
3. Evaluation of Alternatives
Information Search then leads to the business evaluating their alternatives. Here it is important to illustrate the features, benefits and value that your solutions offer in a way that contrasts those typically available in the market and from your competitors.
Your B2B Marketing Strategy should include a range of materials that provide the right amount of "comparative" or "evidence-based" detail to assist with the buyer's decision and these can come in many forms including things like Brochures, Fact Sheets, Case Studies, Testimonials, Pen Portraits and Credentials.
4. Purchase Decision
Once you have a clear opportunity with solid interest from a potential B2B customer, it is time to consolidate your key points-of-difference and to strongly communicate the value of your offering as you illustrate your unique approach to solving the problem or capitalising on the opportunity.
Your B2B Marketing Strategy should include a range of materials that help businesses make their final decision to purchase and these can include Tailored Sales Presentations, Pitches along with the aforementioned Case Studies, Testimonials and Pen Portraits that are most suited to the prospect's specific needs.
5. Purchase Evaluation
We all know that retaining customers/clients is much cheaper and more effective than acquiring new ones. Once you have a new client on board it's only the beginning of the relationship. From here it is all about fostering that relationship so that it continues to evolve and remains healthy over time.
It is for these reasons that your B2B Marketing Strategy should also include a range of initiatives that help you better understand your B2B Client's purchase experience and their continued needs going forward. These needs may be in shape of service and support. They may also be needs that result in further sales of your offerings. Some of the components you could incorporate include Surveys, Post Implementation Reviews (PIRs), Formalised Review Meetings, Cross/Up Selling Campaigns, Upgrades and Email Marketing.
Selling into businesses comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Formalising your B2B Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan is essential for achieving results. Using this B2B Buyer Decision-Making Journey to help with building the necessary marketing communications activities can significantly improve the way you market and sell to businesses.
Smart & Effective B2B Consulting
At Mind Methods Agency, we offer a flexible consulting model assisting organisations with their approach to selling and marketing to businesses. We take into account your unique internal resources and constraints, becoming an extension of your team.
Get in touch with one of the partners directly to discuss your B2B approach.