Why Marketing is Like Internet Dating

Rebel Brown
July 31, 2012 — 1,526 views  
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Our digital world empowers B2B buyers to gather information and make purchasing decisions, without a vendor involved.

Consequently, today's B2B buyers are behaving like B2C buyers. Recent studies show that buyers move through ~80% of the buying cycle before they interact directly with a vendor.*

In yesterday's markets - vendors were a necessary source of information. We were heavily involved in every step of the buying cycle. That's no longer true.

Buyers in control represents one of the most significant shifts in our B2B markets - ever. And that's why I believe great marketing is like Internet dating. 

Today’s buyers can research, select and purchase their products without getting you involved in the decision. You won’t even know they were looking at you. Feels like a dating site to me. 

Buyers spend ~ 60% of their buying cycle reviewing individual vendors' and 3rd party websites, evaluating value, expertise, compatibility and more. Yet they most likely haven't spoken with us yet. Internet dating. 

Buyers are attracted by engaging and relevant content. Vendors who focus on the needs of the buyers, not their own me me me messages, get their interest. That's a good criteria for a date. 

After buyers have reviewed their alternatives, they invite only select vendors to meet with them. Buyers ask the vendors they choose on a date.

Marketing's Goal - Get our Reps the Date

New economy buyers move thru buying decisions at their own speed and in their own directions. They no longer follow our guidance or our funnels. They simply don't need us - until they decide to invite us to their party.

To be successful, we need to shift our marketing and sales think. Our goal is simple: Get our Sales rep that date as one of the finalists in our buyers decision cycle. Yet often we have to do that after those same buyers have already developed well-informed opinions about our solutions and our value - based on word of mouth and 3rd party research, not to mention our own websites.

We need to shift the way we attract and engage our buyers - ahead of direct contact. Getting a date today  takes a whole new marketing perspective!  

Ask yourself, "What kind of vendor would you date?" In the above example there are two choices:

The vendor using traditional marketing approaches -  sharing information about ME ME ME and all the great stuff about their products, company and services. 

The savvy vendor, freely sharing expertise and ideas while focusing on their buyers' needs and situations. No selling, no push, only support as a trusted advisor.

One is all about ego - the other is all about engagement. I think the engaging vendor will get that date - hands down. What do you think? 

How Do I Get That Date?

Getting the date doesn't have to be hard. It does require a shift in the way we think about our funnels, buyers and marketing/sales processes. It also requires a shift in focus - away from selling ourselves and toward our buyers solutions.

In the new economy - it's all about them!

Here are five key steps to get that date with your buyers.

1) Get Relevant Value is in the eye of the beholder-and the only beholder that matters is the one with the bucks. What you want to say usually has little to do with what your buyers want and need to hear. Continuing to focus on our own messages creates a Relevance Gap. That's a sure way to chase away your potential date! Instead of sharing your information, your messages, your stuff - listen to your buyers and learn what they want to know. Then share information that's relevant to them. While you're at it - share your expertise, advice and information that will help your buyers navigate the selection process. Advise them, share stories of similar problems and how your customers have solved them, introduce them to your customers and your community. Help them without any sales push - and let the engagement begin! 

2) Fix that Website One of the biggest marketing disconnects comes from our websites. ~68% of buyers says that the vendors' website is their primary source of information for evaluation and decision making. Yet over 75% of vendors say their websites are ineffective at delivering their value propositions. SAY WHAT? It's time we stepped up to create websites focused on sharing relevant, buyer-focused information instead of our own messages. Forget that product promo an all those darned data sheets. You're out for a date - not a technical review! Learn what your buyers want to know and give it to them. Start by featuring case studies that deliver tips n tricks they need to know (not your promotions), then share deeper expertise on each subject. Heavily feature your customers and partners successes in solving tough problems or empowering new opportunities. Nobody believes what vendors say anymore, so let your market speak for you - that's how you attract that buyer! 

3) Conversation is the New Campaign Campaigns are yesterday's marketing news - pure gravity in action! For decades marketers have wanted to interact directly with customers - even as the sales force wanted to keep control. Today we marketers can converse with any customers we want. That's the power of social media. So why do we continue to plan for five emails and 40 SoMe posts to promote what we want to talk about? Here's an even bigger disconnect. Today's buyers are searching for solutions and making decisions in realtime. How can some campaign, blog or other content that you designed even 2 months ago (or even 2 weeks ago) be relevant to your buyers current needs? We have less than 10 seconds to capture our buyers attentions on our websites and social media outlets. If you're promoting and campaigning instead of conversing with them about what they need and want to know - they'll be gone before you ever knew they were there.

4) Dynamic Content via Relevant Snippets In today's world, Immediacy is the kissin' cousin of Relevance. Forget the canned content and 3 or 6 month campaign and blog schedule. You're irrelevant before you ever hit the street with that content. Instead of creating, outlining, editing and struggling with that 25 page whitepaper to answer a customers question - shoot a 2 minute video that can be posted tomorrow. Answer your buyer in a paragraph right now -instead of a paper in 3 months. Instead of crafting that big campaign of content to respond to a competitive flurry - get out and chat with your buyers about their thoughts and opinions, share your experience and knowledge and help them to decide based on facts, right now. The belief that content has to be delivered as unwieldy documents through the corporate process is one of the biggest gravity processes out there today. Who says content has to be about some doc? You can answer almost any question you're asked with a relevant snippet of information that you create on the fly. Why can't our businesses do the same? Because that's the way we've always done it... sigh.

5) Get Personal Who wants to date someone who is all about themselves, or who isn't interested in what we are all about?  Worse yet, who wants to date someone who groups everyone together into the same categories and then approaches us based on our age, job title, industry or more?  Buyers are people and human behaviors are part and parcel of the buying decision - so engage with buyers as individuals. All those personas do nothing but group individuals into groups that may be accurate but don't tell the whole story. Personal beliefs and experiences influence that buying decision so get personal! Here's how to Get personal and get that date. 

The Bottom Line

Buyers decide who they will invite to their party. They invite us on the date. That means we must be engaging and relevant to them.

If you want to get that date - take a fresh look at your marketing materials and ask yourself, "Would I date me?" 

Rebel Brown

PeopleWhoKnow

I started my consulting business in 1989, after selling large systems to financial services and aerospace markets. Since then I've worked with hundreds of technology vendors to introduce, reenergize and relaunch products and companies.