O.K., b2b marketers have always had the inside track engaging with their prospects and customers. It`s hardly surprising as b2b numbers are generally fewer than even specialist b2c market segments and many product `buys` are technical decisions and require pre and post purchase guidance.

But just how far have things moved on?

A new ball-park.

I`m sure that we have all picked up the numerous pieces of research that say the majority of the search and appraisal process for b2b purchases is now likely to have taken place before your prospect contacts you. – according to Forrester,Oct.`12, it`s between 66% and 90%.

Added to this, buyers are now putting transparency, trust and sustainability high on their list of needs.So, if buyers now aren`t talking to you until much later in their deliberations, then the personal contact you have previously relied on may struggle to shift opinions at a late stage.What we are looking at is how you create the best information gathering and opinion-forming environment for your product or service that will get you considered early in the prospect`s processes.

 What are the key factors?

  • Currently you may have a fuzzier `picture` than previously of who is appraising your offerings and that is likely to get worse.
  • Every prospect will have their own way of researching and appraising and you won`t be sure of any DMU composition.
  • The need to be transparent, helpful and to demonstrate expertise and sustainability is now high on many `lists`.
  • That access to your messages is `any channel, any device, anytime, anywhere` and you have to ensure that you have thought this through
  • Many prospects will want to expand their understanding, develop their own specification and make an initial product choice for comparison before getting prices.
  • How to make buyers` interaction with you easier, once the process is nearing a conclusion.

So many strategies are possible, but most would need to encompass a search/delivery mix that enables easy access to a broad range of information so that your complete offering is appealing and powerful, your approach open and your expertise seemingly invaluable!

 Engagement 24/7!

Fortunately, you have an unprecedented range of options to create the right environment for them to be informed and inspired by you!

Twitter (now with video), blogs, PPC, SEO, Pinterest, LinkedIn company profile, YouTube, native advertising, traditional print media, trade shows, own media, sponsorships and more…. the list is greater than ever.So developing a 24/7 and 365 days a year programme for access at work, at home or on the move is going to be your aim and finding the right messages and delivery routes is going to take insight and some trial and error.

It goes without saying, that your website is the core of your programme and we all know that video and blogs are a great way to be both helpful and achieve opinion-leading status. Add to this some outbound, more traditional activities like print ads and digital ads in your segment`s strongest trade journals and you will have a good start point.

Going full circle?

However, the marketing revolution continues and maybe you should be looking forward to applying marketing automation when we all understand it better!  When that happens, you will be able to track what, of your content, prospects are accessing and respond with tailored messages.

So then you can get back to being personal at every stage!

Dudley Masters, Acumen Marketing Communications, Sevenoaks, Kent