33%. One third. If you have 3,000 buyers, this means 1,000 buyers. Having 10,000 means 3,000. Up to 100,000 means 30,000. This is how many buyers you can potentially be frustrating. This is a lot of buyers.
A Big Problem
As I was reviewing the Buyersphere Report 2013 produced by Base One and B2B Marketing (in association with McCallum, Layton, and Research Now) a brief footnote on frustrations caught my attention. Yes, it is only one survey. However, when approximately a third of respondents faced frustrations in their search for information to help them make decisions – this is not good.
This serves as another indication, despite the buzz about content marketing, B2B marketing is falling short significantly when it comes to providing information buyers need. Here are the themes, which came out of this survey:
- Information too generic or vague
- Slow response to request for information
- Lack of comparative information
- Lack of information in general
- Too much information
- Information incorrect or not credible
- Sales speak
- Lack of clarity
- Difficult to find unbiased information
I was frustrated just reading this list.
While one can argue about the statistics of surveys, these still rings true and are similar to the recent CMO Council and Netline report. A disconcerting story of buyers not receiving the information they seek. There is a lack of information period. Buyers saying there is too much irrelevant information. And, credibility is beginning to be a serious issue.
What is interesting about where information is today versus pre-Internet is this: if it is not the information buyers seek, then the fact information is lacking is more visible. Having the right information is a much higher stakes game than it has ever been.
Automating The Bad
There has been tremendous investments made in marketing automation by many organizations. The growth continues in this industry at a rapid pace. Automation is good. When automating the bad – then it is not good. Automation is an engine. Whether you fill with good information or bad, it is going to do its’ job. If you fill it with information lacking in buyer understanding, it is still going to do its’ job of sending it out to every click imaginable. What is accomplished is the automation of the bad.
The One Thing
Usually it comes down to one thing. In this case we can call it guessing. We can call it lack of understanding. We can call it not having a clue. We can call it many things. But it is one thing. The one thing is – not knowing your buyers deeply. Without knowing your buyers, there will be ineffectiveness in providing them the right information or knowing how to speak to them.
We have been hearing the mantra buyers are changing. But, do we really know how? Most surveys are focused on activities and what buyers do. They are severely limited in getting at the heart of what buyers think and what they are attempting to accomplish. This is the deeper place organizations must go to make their information mean something to buyers.
The Right Information
What is the right information? Here are some guidelines:
- It helps buyers learn how they can accomplish their goals
- The information is informative towards a decision
- It can be shared with others to discuss
- A path to a resolution is seen
- It is relevant to what buyers are facing in the moment
- Information helps buyers envision a different future
- Buyers learn and become knowledgeable
- It helps them to communicate with others
- The information provides a clear course of action
- The information helps them to articulate their issue
These are a few and there are more guidelines I am sure. The important point is in order to make these guidelines work; you need to know your buyer deeply.
Buyer Insight Research
Surveys are, by nature, a quantitative exercise. To get to the deeper layers; B2B companies must embrace qualitative buyer insight research. This allows for getting at the heart of what matters to buyers. It gives the ability to know how buyers think and speak. These are two very important ingredients for getting information right. And, enables you to achieve the guidelines mentioned above.
Information Versus Content
There has been a big push for content marketing these past two years. What B2B marketers must not forget is content and information can be two very separate things. Content marketing calls for sound strategy and good tactical execution. Information provides insight turned into knowledge.
Let us not forget about information in the whirlwind buzz about content marketing present today.
(Need help with making sure you have the right information? Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you. I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how not to frustrate buyers. Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are frustrated and so are their buyers.)