Insight into customer behavior is more important than ever in B2B marketing. It used to be good enough to say, “We know our customers. We know who they are, where they are, what they want and how they buy.” In fact, it wasn’t really good enough, what with job changes, new people, new positions, new roles, etc., along with shifting priorities and competitive threats.
But now, it is even more important to challenge long-held assumptions and make the effort to find out more about your customers. Why? Well, aside from the demographic shift that will only accelerate now that the baby boomers are turning 65 at a pace of some 10,000 per day on average, technology has changed the game completely.
First, there is the consumption of media. Back in the day, if you did a good job with advertising and PR in your industry trade magazines, had a decent “brochure online” website and participated in key industry trade shows, you could feel pretty good about your outbound marketing program. Today, the media landscape has evolved plus there are new platforms (Smartphones, tablets) coming out all the time. B2B buyers have an expectation for highly relevant and even personalized engagement, and they use any number of “media” technology platforms and devices.
Second, there is the impact on the whole marketing and sales process. Before, marketing did advertising, PR, web, etc., and then turned inquiries or leads over to sales to continue the conversation and close the sale. Today, more conversations are happening online, on multiple new channels, with virtual groups and online communities of colleagues, friends and followers. And buyers are doing more evaluation of suppliers and products online, before they ever engage a salesperson.
Insight into your customers’ behavior goes way beyond knowing how they might react to an ad or what kind of information they’d like to see in an article. It extends to where and how they consume information, how they make decisions, how they use websites (at different points in the buying process), how they use technology and how they like to communicate with the people they rely on to help them in their job.
So begin gathering that intel. It can be a real game changer in your B2B marketing. Primary and secondary research, interviews and surveys–these types of insight are key to tapping your customer base and delivering messages that will resonate with them and incite action.