The ability to instantly publish content, send email, and Tweet give the impression that speed is a marketer's friend. Maybe so, maybe not. But, just because we can push content out more rapidly than ever, doesn't mean that your buyer's pace for making a purchase decision will match your stride. In fact, quite the opposite is likely true.
Consider these 4 factors impacting the B2B buying process:
- More information availability translates to more work for your buyers. It's noisy out there and the volume increases every day. Given all the informational choices, deciding what content to engage with and evaluating which vendors are truly credible and the right match for their companies is increasingly difficult.
- More people in the B2B buying process means more time to reach consensus. With more people, comes more perspectives that must be addressed. Getting everyone on the same page is a project of its own. A recent Harvard Daily Stat reported that, "Once you've got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%."
- More concern about finances and ROI means business cases must be built and validated in order to secure budget. Interestingly, research earlier this year conducted by Demand Gen Report found that 30% of purchases were made via budgets allocated and approved AFTER a business case was built justifying the decision. If you're waiting to find buyers with budget, instead of helping them secure it, you're missing out.
- More shifting of priorities in line with quickly evolving business landscapes-not to mention a shaky economy-means projects can be derailed or delayed in an instant. In today's marketplace you've got to prove value to drive urgency.
Let's face it, buying today is different than it used to be. Products and solutions are growing in complexity that takes more time to understand, but the kicker is that your buyers don't have more time. They have less.
Marketers must pay for a buyer's time with content and interactions they find truly valuable. This is why I spend so much time talking about buyer personas, profiles and strategies. Just randomly creating content isn't going to get the job done. There's too much of it out there already.
What's needed is content that answers the questions buyers have related to a priority they're tasked to address. Shorter pieces that they can consume swiftly while gaining a meaty insight that helps to shift their perspectives. More examples of how people just like them have found success in similar situations. Win their trust and, by doing so, get them to extend the amount of their precious time they're willing to spend with you/your content.
Your buyers also need content they can share with others involved in making the decision who have different viewpoints about how the solution will impact them. The "what's in it for me" question must be answered appropriately for each of them. Although they may not be able to seal the deal, they can certainly stop it in its tracks if they don't see why they should care.
Even more important is to realize that conversations need to provide just as much value as the content your produce for individual consumption. To provide a very insightful white paper and then follow it up with a sales call to see if they're ready to buy diminishes the progress you may have made. Consider each interaction you have with a buyer from thier side of the equation.
The only reason a buyer will speed up the pace of their buying process is when they perceive that their interactions with your company provide more value to them than to you. So pay attention to the intent that shows through from your side. Are you helping or selling?
All of this means you need an interactive marketing strategy that combines content and conversations to help buyers make the decision to increase their pace. Not just decision makers, but each and everyone involved in the decision. After all, it's up to them.