One of the many differences between B2B and B2C marketing is getting your message in front the ultimate buyer: the decision maker. In B2C, every potential lead is a potential customer. Even though spouses make important purchasing decision together, each of them has an equal power of decision.
In B2B, things are very different. Many leads you will collect via LinkedIn and Facebook™ ad campaigns are company interns or junior buyers. Of course, if your products are basic office supplies, an office administrator or assistant manager is qualified enough to make the purchasing decision. But what we are talking about here is specialised business products and services, such as an ERP software suite or a video security system.
The More Disruptive the Product, the Higher the Position of the Decision Maker
The rule of the thumb is that the more your product will change the operations and business processes of a company, the higher you must go in the organisational chart in order to find a qualified decision maker.
Of course, along the way, you will encounter lots and lots of gatekeepers, starting with the junior buyer and ending with the CEO’s executive assistant. What you really need is to get your marketing message in front of the CEO or, at least, in front of the purchasing manager. According to a research conducted by Kinesis Inc., 4.5 persons are involved in a corporate buying decision.
In order to increase your chances of reaching at least one of these qualified persons, you need to:
1. Build Relationships All the Way to the Top
As we hinted above, you will reach a lot of gatekeepers before you get to meet the decision maker. Although they cannot put their signature on the purchasing contract, these persons need to be cultivated and nurtured with content and targeted ads. In the end, their word will have some weight in the ultimate purchasing decision.
This is proven by a survey among decision makers conducted by eMarketer. The respondents stated that they base their corporate buying decisions on:
95% peers and colleagues
86% independent content
81% vendor websites.
Thus, you should not discard the lower corporate ranks from your target audiences. Indirectly, they are a part of the decision making process in the organisation.
2. Tell Interesting Stories Instead of Pushing Sales Pitches
B2B decision makers know that marketers see them as big, fat wallets – and they are tired of this stereotype. Sure, they do not purchase the products and services to satisfy their own needs, but those of an abstract entity – the company they work for. But they are still people and want to be treated as such.
In the end, the products and services they choose will make their own work more efficient and productive. So hone your B2B marketing messages to include the human touch you generally see in B2C marketing copy.
3. Understand the Organisation behind the Decision Maker
In the B2B world, marketing personalisation has a different approach from the same activity for B2C marketing. In this situation, your message must be adapted not only to the role of the decision maker (financial manager, CEO, purchasing consultant) but also to the specific of the company.
Is this a laborious task? Probably, but in the end it pays off. Of course, you do not have to go in very deep detail for each individual organisation you pitch to. But you should have at least a specific approach for tech companies, another for financial-banking institutions, etc.
4. Use a Multi-Channel Approach
Corporate decision makers are active on various digital channels. Many of them start their day by reading their email and then checking their LinkedIn newsfeed. You should understand the patterns of behaviour of your target audience and create a multi-channel approach.
Why is it important to do so? Decision makers are notoriously busy people. You may have attracted their attention with a piece of content, but it will be soon lost as important work tasks occur. This is why retargeting and multi-channel approach are so important in B2B marketing. You need to work hard to remind the potential lead of the interest they originally had in the solution you presented them and decide to download the lead magnet you prepared for them.
5. Leverage the Power of Referrals
As indicated by the survey we shared above, decision makers rely primarily on peers and colleagues in making a purchasing decision. Some of their peers are your existing customers. So, leverage the good relationship you have with them. Ask them for testimonials and, as far as NDAs allow it, share as many details as possible about the referrer in your marketing content.
This kind of endorsement will add weight to your claims; especially if the author of the testimonial is a person your prospect has done business with and knows them personally.