Buyer-Centricity and Other Marketing Insight From TechTarget’s Boston #ROISummit

Garrett Mann
Garrett Mann

Director, Content Marketing

roisummit buyer-centricityYesterday, October 29, some of the best and brightest technology marketers gathered at TechTarget headquarters for our annual Boston-area ROI Summit. The jam-packed agenda featured incredibly actionable advice from marketing practitioners, experts, analysts from top companies like CommVault and SiriusDecisions.

While all the advice and takeaways were too plentiful to squeeze into one recap, there was one theme that came through loud and clear through the day: buyer-centricity. Taking in all the presentations and content, it is clear that the days of “me-centric” marketing are squarely in the rear-view mirror and that marketers must focus on buyers first, then on solutions.

Find your buyers on their terms

It’s very easy to be me-centric when your buyers come to you and want to engage with you on your own turf, but guess what? Mike Cotoia opened up the event by sharing the cold hard fact that your buyers are not with you about 90% of the time. Which means your me-centric approach will most likely fail 9 out of 10 times. You need to move beyond your own ecosystem and connect with your buyers in the right technology media environments. In other words, engage them on their terms and on their turf.

Be a good listener

The day then got under way with a very insightful panel of IT leaders from Harvard Business Review and API Systems in which we all got tangible advice on how to best influence IT decision-makers. It turns out that what you say is a lot less important than what you hear. According to the panel, here are the top things that you as marketers and sales people can do to move from shortlist to selection:

  • Be a good listener (rather than a good salesman) – Anybody can talk the talk when it comes to their own solutions, but how well can you incorporate what you hear into your pitch?
  • Be a good teacher – With up to 12 hours per day engaged with online media, buyers are constantly learning about new technologies, new problems, and new solutions for their environment. For marketing to IT pros to be effective, it must help buyers really learn about your solution, not just what your marketing platform is. Don’t be afraid to get technical.
  • Be transparent – Buyers need proof from you, not speculation. Communicate to them how your solution will in their environment and how it has worked for your other customers. And you must provide comparisons to competitor solutions. One of the panelists said that one of the key reasons that they selected one vendor (from a shortlist of 20 to start) was that they were able to provide a better, more comprehensive comparison of their solution vs. the competition. But don’t just leave it to your sales reps to do these comparisons – create comparisons that can be used in marketing campaigns – according to TechTarget’s most recent Media Consumption research, vendor comparisons are one of the most effective late stage assets for buyers.

Use good content habits when engaging buyers

Next up, Courtney Kay helped us learn the top habits of today’s successful technology marketers. One of the most important things I learned in this session was that the best way to be buyer-centric is by providing the type of content that your buyers prefer and to make it as easy for them to consume as possible:

  • Cover the entire lifecycle with your content – 77% of buyers want different content for each stage of the buying cycle, so it is your job as marketers to deliver it.
  • Make sure you have enough content to keep your buyers satisfied – 95% of purchases are from vendors that provided an adequate amount of content, so brands with most and best content will win every time. Audit your content to determine whether you have enough of the right content for each stage. Create content or work with partners and third parties to fill gaps as necessary.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs) don’t just belong at the end of your content – as 57% of buyers will not read your entire asset (TechTarget), you need to make it clear what next step you want them to take throughout your content with the use of progressive CTAs.
  • Match your content goals to your buyer’s goals – By understanding what the buyer needs in his purchasing journey, you can better engage buyers by focusing content to meet those needs.
  • Personalize – Persona-based content development can be challenging, but is the ultimate embodiment of buyer-centric content marketing.

Stop talking at your buyers and start talking with them

We heard earlier how important it is for you to be a good listener, because it allows you to make the transition from talking at your buyers to talking with your buyers. Talking is a one-way communication – conversation is two-way communication. In order for you to have an effective conversation with buyers, you need to provide buyers with the information they need and be flexible enough to adjust strategies based on what you are hearing. Talking with your buyers means that you sell them solutions based on their needs, not products.

buyer-centricity - CommvaultWe heard from an expert team of marketers at Commvault that being buyer-centric is not just for your marketing, but for your marketers as well. Just like me-centric marketing talks too much about you and not enough about your customers, me-centric marketers worry too much about getting credit/attribution and not enough about working together with sales to create good opportunities. Becoming buyer-centric only works if sales and marketing are aligned.

As evidenced by the figure at right, Commvault and TechTarget proving out firsthand how creating integrated buyer-centric programs will help deliver better results to the business.

Putting it all together

jaygaines buyer-centricityIn one of the featured sessions of the day, Jay Gaines, Head of the CMO practice for SiriusDecisions shared some very compelling financial reasons that marketers should transition from a one-and-done marketing approach to an integrated, buyer-centric approach. According to SiriusDecisions research, a buyer-centric approach will double your marketing sourced pipeline while reducing pipeline cost as much as 75%.

Buyer-centricity is not just a buzzword, but a real strategy that needs to be operationalized. According to Jay, there are 4 steps to establishing a buyer-centric marketing approach:

  1. Build an audience framework – It all starts with your audience. It may sound simple, but that is where you need to start and make sure you are on the same page with sales about. Develop a framework which marries your offering with market issues and buyer needs across industries, verticals, regions, org types, and buying targets.
  2. Relative targeting – identify the characteristics of your target segments and their likelihood to purchase. This is done by assessing both external factors such as buying trends, category spending, and competition, and internal factors such as your domain knowledge, messaging, sales readiness, and your database. External factors are beyond your control, but you can focus on internal factors to hone in on the buyers that will be most effective for your marketing programs.
  3. Identify demand type – this is very simply identifying what type of demand you want to create for your solution. Your market position will dictate you go-to-market strategy. If you are selling a new concept to the market, you must take a leadership position when creating demand. Conversely, in an established market, you must take a more competitive position. Marketing/sales alignment is crucial here. If marketing and sales cannot agree on what is being sold, they will never be aligned.
  4. Build personas – Now that you have identified your buying segment, you must now build personas to develop marketing campaigns around. Personas can involve such things as title, job role, demos, pain points, content and tactic preferences, and more.

Using intelligence to make it work

You’ve identified your buyer, you’ve identified your segment, you’ve developed your content. How do you make sure you are successful? Just because you know who to target doesn’t mean you know when they want to hear from you or when they have projects going on in their organization. All the online research that buyers do before engaging vendors has put organizations in a weakened position when it comes to the buy cycle.

The traditional offer-response-react model does not work anymore. You need to understand and identify where buyers’ interests lie and where their attention is focused and ride that attention wave. By seeing where they are spending their time, you don’t need to wait for them to reach out – you can intersect them where they are doing research and making decisions. And as we already learned, it is probably not in your own ecosystem.

To this extent, our own Justin Hoskins shared a suite of new intelligence-driven marketing and sales tools that can monitor buyer behavior and help teams understand the buying signals and purchase intent of key accounts in their segments.

Trying to pack a whole day into one blog is not easy work. If you want to learn more, feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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