Our latest eBook, The Right Mix: A B2B Marketing Allocation Guide, takes a close look at the classic buying process (Awareness | Interest | Information Search & Evaluation | Purchase |Post Purchase Evaluation) and the role that each marketing tactic plays in moving prospects along this continuum.
As we wrote on our last blog post, we realize not everyone has time to read a 55-page e-Book - as good as it may be. So we've carved out the key sections and turned them into a series of blog posts. This post looks at the B2B buying process, Enjoy.
When deciding which tactics fit into your marketing plan and how much money and resources to allocate to each, it helps to take a step back to review the B2B buying process – sometimes called the purchase decision funnel – and the role of each marketing tactic. Here is a simplified version of this process:
A prospect must become aware that you exist before anything else can happen. Your marketing messages and calls to action (CTA) have to grab the prospect’s attention. The problem is your prospects are bombarded every day by a multitude of marketing messages. Somehow, you have to find a way to be heard over all of that “noise,” and repetition is an essential first step. Repetition also helps you maintain contact with prospects who don’t need your product or service at the moment but eventually might.
It’s not enough to merely grab your prospects’ attention. You must also persuade them that your product/service addresses their pain points or serves their needs. This requires effective calls-to-action. It is at this stage of the buying process where you truly generate “leads.” Lead generating campaigns build awareness but they go a step further by encouraging prospects to engage with and respond to your key messages.
After prospects decide they need a particular solution, they begin to gather information – often doing so online. The Internet dramatically improves your buyers’ ability to find information and alternatives. HRmarketer’s research confirms that HR decision makers turn to the Internet first when beginning their information searches. Visibility and credibility, therefore, are absolutely essential. The more you are present online and the stronger your reputation as a thought leader, the better you will fair at this stage.
When your prospect has decided what alternative they will go with – because it offers the best-perceived combination of goal achievement and minimization of risk – they buy. Be sure to make the purchase (and implementation!) of your solution as seamless as possible.
The final phase of the buying process is the customer’s evaluation of whether a purchase accomplished its objective. This ultimately determines whether they become advocates of your brand. Remember, their satisfaction is based on perceived results relative to their expectations. Although you don’t have direct control over the post-purchase evaluation, you DO have control over the critical elements affecting it. Smooth implementation, timely sales follow-ups, and effective account service all have a tremendous positive impact on the post-purchase evaluation. The more attentive you remain after the sale is made, the more favorable the review is likely to be.
The Clogged Artery Effect
You cannot force people to change their behavior and quickly jump from awareness to purchase. But you can facilitate behavior change by building awareness, informing and educating, and establishing trust and credibility. This leads to meaningful conversations and, eventually, sales.
Most marketing fails because of bottlenecks that occur along the purchasing process.
We call this the “clogged artery” effect.
And most bottlenecks occur for one of two reasons:
- Inadequate funding of marketing tactics that support the flow of buyers along the buying process or;
- Poor marketing / sales processes (e.g., insufficient or non-existent lead nurturing programs).
Fortunately, you have complete control over these.
To learn more download the full eBook (no registration required - just grab the PDF).
Labels: B2B, eBook, lead nurturing, marketing