5 Buyer Behaviors Reshaping B2B Marketing

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Tony Zambito

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One thing we can count on is by the time you have finished reading this buying behavior may have been altered one again.  Changes in buyer behaviors continue unabated.  This is making it difficult for marketing and sales leaders to plan the right mix of strategies and tactics resulting in a winning formula.

5 Buyer Behaviors B2B Marketing Must Keep An Eye On

New buying behaviors means B2B marketers have to become more responsive today.  Creating nimble organizations and improving knowledge in buyer understanding.  Here are ways buyer behavior will continue to reshape marketing:

Buyers Embrace Collaboration

Social and digital technologies have allowed for progress in the area of collaboration.  Meaning the sphere of influence and interaction not only has widened but increased.  Old ideas about roles on buying teams are being shattered as we speak.  The era of collaborative buyer networks has arrived.  We now have to consider internal as well as external members of collaborative networks impacting decision-making.

Buyers Want Co-Creation

Collaborative networks are fostering a new environment for co-creating products, services, and for solving problems.  This new development will put pressure on B2B organizations to get in line with flexible products and services which allow buyers to play an active role in co-creating.  Buyers and their collaborative networks will demand it.  For B2B marketers, this means a broader view on how you deliver messaging.

Buyers Want Less Content

I am sure some will do a double take on the above sub-header.  The fact is buyers are overwhelmed with content.  Here is how one buyer put it to me: “Look, I think twice now about putting my name in a form – not because I am not willing – but I know this just means I am going to get a flood of emails to download more information.”  Buyers want less content – yet desire smart content.

Buyers Want 1-to-1

A funny thing happened on the way to marketing automation.  Marketing may be inadvertently dripping back into the mode of 1-to-many as opposed to the coveted 1-to-1.  I came upon this thought after conducting two reviews of lead generation and nurturing campaigns.  Buyers can see right through this screen.  They can smell automation.  A buyer’s voice on an email she received: “What is this?  I really don’t know because it doesn’t say anything to me.”

Buyers Want More Than Insight

There is the old adage “too much of a good thing.”  I think we may have such a situation happening.  We have embraced the idea of the Challenger Sale and you see organizations racing to offer insight.  An issue here is too many items are being classified as insight.  This can actually counter-balance the act of contributing insight.   What this means for B2B marketing and sales is they will have to be more judicious in what they label insight.  Why dilute a good thing?

Adaptive and Agile Marketing

With rapidly changing buying behaviors, B2B marketing will need to be more adaptive and agile.  I foresee buyer behaviors shifting in waves.  This means marketing must be able to see these waves and make adaptive shifts in how they connect with buyers.  This will certainly not be easy to do.

Predictability will become even more important as we look ahead.  While Big Data holds promise, it will equally take developing the qualitative ability to anticipate where the new buyers of today are heading.

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15 thoughts on “5 Buyer Behaviors Reshaping B2B Marketing”

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  2. Brian Hansford

    Nice post. Instead of less content, I would argue buyers want BETTER content. Too much B2B content is still poorly developed, too promotional, and irrelevant. The companies that do really well with content produce a good amount and they keep it flowing. They key is finding the balance between educational, engaging, and entertaining content. That’s my .02 🙂 Nice Article Tony!

    Brian Hansford

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your comment. Appreciated. I think you offered a value of more than 2 cents. I believe finding the balance you speak of is critical. Attention spans are decreasing so creating engagement while being entertaining at the same time is the magic potion. Tougher to do than say however what should be strived for.

      Thanks Brian!

  3. Hugh Macfarlane

    I’d agree with Brian on two fronts, Tony: that this is a nice post, and that buyers want more-relevant content. One of your key themes is B2B personas, and this is a part of the answer. In another article (http://www.customerthink.com/blog/5_buying_behaviors_of_the_persona_buying_cycle), you described personas suggesting that they change as the buyer’s readiness to engage and engagement with you changes. I’m not sure I agree. Who they are (size of company, industry, role, people they surround themselves with, what they read) doesn’t change as they move through their buying process with YOU, then change back again when they are buying something else from someone else. What changes is their readiness for certain key messages and the tactics that best convey those messages.

    A more powerful approach (in my insufficiently humble opinion) would be to marry these two concepts rather than to assume one as a proxy for the other. My content should be shaped around both who you are (persona) and where you are (buyer’s journey). A quick example:

    I might use a 2 minute video on my home page to welcome you and to present the core problem we solve. If I honour the personas, I might weave into this short video, language to reflect these differences like “…and lack of alignment [the common problem in this example] plays out differently for different businesses: The sales leader in a mature industrial is probably frustrated that Marketing has not delivered anything to hard-won revenue; the Marketing lead in a sophisticated IT company is plain angry that so many of their leads are ignored by Sales; the CEO of a … [and so it goes through my personas]. And you then offer calls to action in the video for each of these named personas.

    Each call to action though, doesn’t make a product pitch (wrong stage in the buyer’s journey), instead it is a version of content for each persona expanding on the problem allowing the buyer to see that you understand their world. Then you might move onto a self-assessment. Again, one version for each persona so that your questions are relevant and invite critical self assessment (assuming we’re still at the problem stage of their journey).

    Sure this is more work, but if we agree with your assertion that buyers are becoming less-welcoming of generic content (and I do agree with this BTW), then we have little choice but to write more precisely – both for who they are (persona) and where they are (buyer’s journey).

    1. Hi Hugh,

      Your thoughtful – and informative comment much appreciated. I like your thinking and approach on this topic. My point – which is evolving – on the article you reference was more about focusing on the behaviors of personas. Addressing operational issues I have found in organizations. While an identified target buyer persona can be one, they may take on different behaviors depending on where they are in the buying cycle. I have seen this in my interviews as well as seen how frustrating it is for various teams to work with generalized personas having no relevance to their particular. You are inspiring me to keep thinking about more clarity in language and vocabulary on this front.

      And I agree – writing more precisely is the goal. We are learning how but I believe B2B has a long way to go yet.

      Thanks Hugh!

      1. Hugh Macfarlane

        Thanks Tony. Your writing is thoughtful, provocative, and clear, and I look forward to following this discussion and your thinking over time. You can read more on our take on the buyer’s journey here: http://www.mathmarketing.com/taxonomy/term/23. When I coined the term in 2003, it wasn’t met well. Fortunately, this has changed and the term is widely used. Buyer personas have been more openly accepted, but not yet widely acted on. The two concepts are powerful, distinct, and together they represent opportunities for smart marketers to leverage to their advantage.

        1. And thank you Hugh! I will take a look and let’s have some further discussion in the near future on the power of these two concepts making a difference.


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  10. devendera singh rawat

    dear sir
    i,m exporter handicrafts item and house hold item i,m form moradabad(india)
    how can reach to buyer.who purches our item form india
    pls advice me
    devendera singh rawat

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