As a B2B marketer, if you had to pick between prioritizing one of the following tasks, which would it be: attracting a new audience and creating demand for your product, enabling your sales team, or creating a personalized buyer experience?
It’s a trick question — you shouldn’t have to choose. In fact, all three of these items should have an equally important role in your marketing and selling strategies. But how do you make sure you’re giving all of these tasks the time and attention they deserve in order for you to be successful?
Here’s my advice: look at it not as three separate tasks, but as a single task that can be accomplished by paying close attention to the buyer’s journey. Allow me to explain.
The modern B2B sales cycle has changed. It’s no longer a funnel, but a fluid, cyclic process with branching and overlapping paths that represent the buyers’ tendencies to conduct their own research to the point of purchase, then constantly re-evaluate those choices over time. Buyers are no longer telling companies exactly what they need to complete this research process, but they do expect companies to anticipate their needs and have the exact, personalized content they’re looking for, when they need it. Sounds like a realistic set of expectations, right…?
For B2B marketers, this means we need to be more agile with our content creation in order to support every stage of the buyer’s journey. With buyers not even approaching sales until they’re a majority of the way through the sales process, marketing needs to cover a lot of ground with their content creation. This is where a stage-based marketing approach really comes in handy. By developing a mixture of top, middle, and bottom-of-the-funnel content, you’re giving your buyers the ability to move themselves through the buying cycle — no sales attention required.
(To get more advanced with this, distribute your content across a variety of channels that you know your audience is active on. Pardot’s 2/26 webinar, featuring Ardath Albee, acclaimed B2B marketing strategist and author of Digital Relevance, will dive into this in more detail).
Not only does content help create demand for your product, it also does a number of things for your sales team. First, it generates leads. With a marketing automation tool in place, content can be gated behind forms and landing pages and used to collect data from prospective customers. This, coupled with the insight into their interests and pain points (based on their browsing history and content downloads), gives sales reps a great jumping off point for sales conversations.
Second, content helps educate the buyers who aren’t quite ready to speak to a sales rep. This takes the burden of constant follow-ups off of the sales team, but also ensures that when a buyer is ready to speak to sales, they’re already educated. That way, sales reps can pick up right where the buyer’s research left off, without having to waste time building the relationship from scratch.
Combined, catered content and intelligent sales conversations can create a buying experience that feels highly personal to each buyer. Not only are buyers finding answers to their questions via your brand’s content, but they’re also receiving targeted sales communications based on the data that you’ve gathered about their interests and motivations.
As a marketer, you can take this personalization on step further by using data to better inform the web experience and your marketing communications. Dynamic content, a popular feature of marketing automation, allows you to display targeted website content based on a user’s location, job title, industry, and more. Similarly, this data can be used to segment your email database into smaller, more targeted groups, allowing you to send the most relevant, personalized messaging possible.
Through close attention to the buyer journey, you can ensure that you’re creating continual demand for your product and enabling your sales team, while still creating a unique buying experience in the process.