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The shifting B2B marketing landscape: Then vs Now

This blog is part of the 'Behind the Scenes' series - an insight into just some of the content being presented at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference 2016 where Mogrify will be presenting.

Savvy, self-educating buyers, social media and ever-advancing technology – these have changed and continue to evolve the role of marketing. Making sense of this new landscape is no mean feat. For B2B marketers, it requires a new outlook, a new skill set and the ability to engage the rest of the team in what is now a whole-of-business focus.

We take a look at some of the key buyer dynamics and present a comparison of the 'then' vs 'now' of B2B marketing – how much of ‘then’ activity are you still doing?

The modern B2B buyer

The modern B2B buyer is self-sufficient, self-assured and very much in control. We’ve all heard about it and experience also tells us its happening.  Much of this may sound familiar:

  • By the time you hear from them, your buyers are 60 – 90% through their buyer’s journey. The various research estimates vary somewhat but the message is clear: prospective IT buyers are anywhere between 60 – 90% their buyer’s journey before they decide to talk to a sales person. Some cloud vendors may not even be aware of a prospect’s interest until the money hits their bank account – think Xero accounting software as an easily recognised example.
  • They don't want to be sold to. Buyers are actively looking for solutions to their business problems but will avoid a sales conversation. They have all the information they need at the tap of a screen or keyboard and will research their problems, consider various solutions and consult their network well in advance of making contact with a sales person.
  • They are spoilt for choice. New technology means lower barriers to entry and more competition in most industries, including IT. With so many options available to them, the buyer is well and truly in control.

B2B Marketing: Then vs Now

Marketers have had to adapt. Successful teams are focused on engaging buyers and building relationships. Here are a few comparisons of the ‘then’ vs ‘now’ in the world of B2B marketing.

 1. Product push vs knowledge sharing

THEN: Gone are the days of pushing a product where the marketer with the biggest advertising budget wins. Product brochures and specs are still important, but only to the small percentage of prospects that are ready to buy – any only once they have navigated their own way through the buyer’s journey.

NOW: Customers want to talk to someone who understands their world, their challenges and who speaks their language. Make it easy for them to find you – share your knowledge and expertise through valuable, relevant content that helps them do their job better.

 2. One-off campaigns vs ongoing conversations

THEN: One-off campaigns – usually product focused - used to result in a spike in sales. The result was rarely sustained for longer than the duration of the promotional activity. But over time you have probably noticed that this this less-than-perfect strategy has become even less effective - and now is likely to cost more in time, energy and salaries than you get back in revenue.

NOW: Customers are over the hard sell. They want to work with people they know and trust and building these relationships takes time. Invest in creating regular, relevant content that sustains ongoing conversations that nurture buyers over time. When extra funds become available invest in additional, high-value content pieces or extend your promotional activity – of your content that is, not your products!

 3. Generic messages vs targeted communications

THEN: A ‘one-size-fits-all’ message may have worked when the conversation was focused on product. And when the biggest voice and the biggest budget was king, having the one message may have meant a bigger bang for your advertising buck.  But it is difficult to build trust when you don’t appear to know your audience.

NOW: With so many competitive options - and so much content! - out there, only the most targeted message will cut through the noise. Build a clear picture of the living, breathing people you are selling to. What segments do they work in? What are their interests, professional and personal? What are their key pains and challenges and how can you help them? Tailor your communications to suit.

 4. Marketing-as-a-silo vs  whole-of-business marketing

THEN:Marketers just used to do their thing. Sometimes they would work with sales but often there was tension rather than collaboration between the two teams – and finger-pointing on both sides if targets weren’t met. Today, this model just doesn’t cut it.

NOW: Marketing needs to build relationships and trust with prospects and customers – it needs to engage them with relevant content that is based on the unique knowledge and experience of your company. This is not the role for one person or team. The marketer may be the driver, and the change agent, but your whole business needs to be involved – sales, product, service and technical.

How does YOUR marketing measure up?

Think about the way marketing works in your business right now. Are you still doing more of the ‘then’ activity than you would like? If so, this is likely to also be having an impact on your sales pipeline and revenue figures.

If you’re not quite sure where to start in transforming your marketing activity the Marketing Track at this year's APC will provide some invaluable insights.  Mogrify will be presenting three sessions (one focused on content, one on marketing strategy, and one on resourcing), and running two Masterclasses (one on strategy, one on content). See the program here.

Please follow our LinkedIn company page for more insights.

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