Is Your Marketing Strategy Optimized to Attract Today’s Buyer?
The operative word in this question is Attract. The impact of pushing your message out to your target prospect via advertising, PR, and direct sales has changed. Leading companies recognize that buyers no longer just listen to your message – that it takes an engagement process to first attract the right prospects and then move them along the buying process, until they are ready to make a decision. An engagement mindset is important because according to Forrester Research, your prospective customers are 67% to 90% through the buying journey BEFORE they contact the vendor.
Consider too, that today’s buyer finds three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece of content marketing or sales pushes out. They perform a web search, go to your website, read your blog, see what you’re posting on Facebook and Tweeting about. They click a banner ad, watch YouTube videos about your product, see you at tradeshows, attend a webinar, and read commentary from other customers. They ask peers about you. And yes, they might even talk to your sales rep.
Complexity, Inefficiency & Opportunity
As you can imagine, the sales funnel isn’t nearly as linear or predictable as we might like. Instead it’s a series of convoluted paths, media channels and entry points where your prospective customers enter to research you and get information about your company. I really like Forrester’s “French Horn” sales funnel because it’s much more representative of today’s buyer journey. The contemporary funnel creates a complex and fragmented process that can thwart most of your marketing and sales efforts.
With such a complicated sales funnel, it’s easy for your marketing and sales efforts to be inefficient, diluted or ineffective. If you don’t have a presence in ALL the places your target customers are, you risk missing out on opportunity AND you're leaving the door open for your more savvy competitors to own the space.
Adjust for Improved Success
Seizing the opportunity begins first by recognizing the shift in the buying process – all else flows from this realization. Here are several steps you can take to optimize your marketing to attract your best fit prospects:
- Perform a thorough and unbiased assessment of your current marketing efforts. What’s working and what’s not working and how do you know?
Most clients are doing some things right when it comes to their marketing; however, there’s usually opportunity to achieve greater impact and value. For example, trade shows play an important role for most of our clients, however there’s almost always opportunity for stronger pre-show outreach, improving show messaging, and upgrading post-show follow-up. Here's a related post on lessons learned from strategy sessions with clients.
- Adjust your marketing budget allocation so that it better supports the buyer journey and sales funnel. That almost always means shifting a greater percentage of your budget to digital channels.
So many marketing budgets are stuck in a rut – and reflect an allocation based on last year’s without regard to what worked. Depending on where you’re starting, budget allocation can be a sobering experience. If you haven’t spent much in the prior year, you’ll most likely need to up your budget. If you’ve been investing regularly, reallocating your budget can be just a difficult because it requires letting go of some activities you’ve always done. We’ve had clients tell us that if they don’t advertise in a trade publication or go to a particular trade show, people might think they are in trouble or out of business.
- Identify and then create content that will attract and engage prospective buyers. In light of the convoluted funnel and multiple media channels, planning is essential to create content that will help the buyer along their journey. Get started by referencing this post on the 5 questions to answer for effective content marketing.
Getting outside content development support for specialized technologies and industries can pose a challenge. Researchers and engineers need to focus on their regular duties, and not necessarily write the next blog post or compose tweets. The way we deal with it with our high tech clients is two-fold; we developed in-house technical capability to offload content creation from clients, and we’ve refined a process for interviewing technical staff to minimize the effort for their technical resources.
Is Your Marketing Strategy Optimized to Attract Today’s Buyer? What's your answer? Regardless of where you are starting, those who embrace the buyer shift have a distinct advantage over those who do not.