Choice Has Changed How We Buy B2B Products
The buyer now has all the power
A couple weeks ago, I highlighted some SaaS trends and predictions for 2021. The market is saturated, and the abundance of SaaS companies leads to the question:
How do you set yourself apart?
If you’re like most SaaS companies, you’ve probably tried to map your content and ads to pain points. This worked for a while, until it didn’t. The inbound leads plateaued, and you’re left wondering where to find more leads.
The reason it stopped working is twofold. First, buyers don’t fully see or understand their pain yet. If the buyer doesn’t recognize their pain, your content focused on that pain point provides exactly zero value — and they will spend zero time with it.
Because of this, a focus on pain points won’t ever outpace demand.
You have to move beyond pain points and shift your marketing approach to a Buyer Led Growth formula.
B2B & SaaS Buyers Hold All the Power
Marketing used to be all about getting attention.
If you could grab a prospect’s attention, they would convert to a lead and engage with the sales team. From there, it was sales’ job to overcome objections, shift their beliefs, and make an offer — with some urgency to convince them that buying now was better than waiting for tomorrow.
But all that has changed.
Today, prospects don’t have the time or attention to spare. They’re savvy; they don’t want to connect with your sales team or give sales the opportunity to shift any beliefs they already have.
So marketing’s role has changed. It’s not just about getting attention by being the loudest or flashiest — marketing must take on the role of shifting beliefs.
And the research backs that up. In 2017, Forrester reported that 68% of B2B buyers prefer to do their own research. They’re not reaching out to your sales team with questions.
COVID-19 accelerated this shift. McKinsey found that “self-serve and remote interactions have made it easier for buyers to get information, place orders, and arrange service, and customers have enjoyed that speed and convenience.”
Customers aren’t going back to the old ways. If your company tries to stick to marketing advice from the early 2000s, you will lose customers and revenue.
In a world where customers seek out their own information, again—how do you set yourself apart?
It’s simple, but not easy.
You go where the buyers are and you stop focusing on tactics and start paying attention to strategy.
Focus on Strategy Not Tactics
Every marketing team wants to answer “why us”. So they start spouting claims, facts, statistics, features and benefits.
All your competitors make the same claims you do about how your SaaS can fix their pain point. Buyers tune it out.
Instead of raising awareness about your solution, you need to shift marketing to focus on your buyers’ beliefs, so they actually care about their problem.
99% of buyers aren’t in buy mode yet. In fact, they don’t recognize that they’re in any pain — so they certainly don’t care about content focused on their problems. In today’s world, your job is to show them with your marketing that they should recognize and care about solving their problems in the first place.
But most marketing departments aren’t doing this. They’re focused on tactics — looking for better emails, optimizing landing pages to squeeze another fraction of a percent from their conversions, endlessly split testing ads…
Focusing on tactics doesn’t provide meaningful growth. You need a shift in overall strategy.
Here are three strategies to consider.
Focus on the activities that create demand, not leads
The value behind your marketing material needs to be measured in the consumption of the content, not the leads it generates. This requires a shift from traditional marketing metrics. You have to move away from the idea that everything needs to have a clear attribution report. Third party reports will almost always steer you wrong.
Instead, focus on marketing that creates brand awareness, builds brand equity, and starts the process of product consideration. With your content, build a brand narrative that helps your customers realize they have a problem. The result will be higher quality leads because you’ve stirred up the demand.
Shift how you acquire new customers
You need to communicate with your buyers how they want to hear from you and where they want to hear from you. Go where the people are.
Social media is the new email marketing — it has 100% open rate. You can run ads to your target and an ad view is an email open. A click is a link click.
The best part? You can hit your entire target market.
Buying behavior is changing and most businesses aren’t signing up for newsletters. I haven’t signed up for one in 3 years.
Most of the ones I get? They’re automatically filtered out of my inbox and I don’t read most of them.
You have to stop blasting ‘buy now’ ads all over. Turn off the sales intent. As I wrote above, you need more marketing that creates brand awareness, builds brand equity and starts the process of production consideration.
Build your demand gen engine around how your buyers want to buy
You don’t need better emails in your nurture sequence.
You need to stop gating your best content behind an email request. B2B customers don’t want more emails. Their inboxes already have 28,783 that are unread!
With 99% of SaaS companies following the gated content approach, your buyers will remember that you offered value differently than your competitors.
Stop forcing your buyers to buy your way— set yourself apart by giving away your great ebook. It should be as easy as possible to find and consume.
Why are you creating extra friction for your customer? Marketing, by its very nature, creates friction because it preys on prospects’ anxieties and fears; yet most marketing fails to address anything else that may be pushing or pulling them, like their habits or beliefs.
And when you’re not considering the prospect’s whole experience, it creates friction. It impacts your customer acquisition strategy.
I’m not saying get rid of email nurtures, I’m saying it cannot be your only (or even your main) strategy.
What you need instead is to focus on creating content that communicates your brand narrative providing real opportunity for buyer-led growth.
Choice Has Changed How We Buy B2B Products
Content that maps to your buyers’ operating narratives when they don’t realize they have a pain point begins with their current beliefs and habits. It helps them realize they have the pain point.
Understanding that buyers have more choice than ever — and creating a marketing strategy that makes your competition obsolete — will set you apart and attract better leads and customers.
Edelman Trust Management’s barometer found that competence only drives 24% of the trust capital of business.
Purpose, dependability, and integrity? They drive 76% of it.
Accessible brand awareness content helps grow that trust capital so that buyers come to realize they have a problem, want a solution, and come to you to fix it.
With today’s buyer-centric market, the best marketing isn’t about features and benefits. It’s about so much more and we can help you out with that.
To date 100% of our customers have seen positive ROI. This has happened from shifting marketing from lead based to demand based to buyer led growth that gives rise to your buyers needs.
Book a discovery call with our founder and see if buyer led growth is right for your company.