Profiling leads: Don’t just look in the shopping cart, read the ingredients

Chris Rudnick

Marketing Manager

grocery-cartI recall a discussion that took place in one of my MBA marketing courses about looking at the behaviors and characteristics of prospects to build a profile. The exercise that the professor used was asking the class, “If you stopped 5 people before the checkout line at the grocery store and looking in their carts, how much information could you gather and how easy would it be to build a top-level profile of that person? How could you use that information to your advantage in understanding each person’s needs, interests or priorities?” This was my first exposure to “persona building and marketing” and a simple way to showcase how powerful gaining intelligence on people based on their current consumption behaviors can be and leveraging that insight into one’s marketing strategy.

As marketers, we have taken this approach and built campaigns that profile our prospects and nurture them with the most applicable content in hopes it will make them receptive to a sales discussion. However this top-level profile is not enough and we need to start digging deeper into what is being consumed. A person buying a bag of potato chips may tell you something, but knowing that bag of chips has the least amount of calories compared to the others at the store may tell you something different. We must look deeper at the information our prospects consume and determine whether or not they are ready to talk to sales, because most will do whatever they can to avoid that engagement. This is the focus of TechTarget’s latest Media Consumption Report, showcasing how IT buyers are using content to consume the information necessary for effective vendor and solution evaluations.

Similar to prior studies, this report does identify the media types, white papers, case studies, online videos, etc., your prospects prefer based on their stage of the buy cycle, but it also exposes the new reality for content marketing: it’s not the type of media that can help profile a prospect, it’s the information they are gaining from that media.

 The 2300+ respondents made it unanimously clear, good information is good information and it’s up to us as marketers, to give it to them. If we don’t, they will move on and find someone who will. So it’s time we give in to their demands, provide information they need to research without us and use intelligence to know when they are receptive to sales engagements.

So what is that information?

AMediaConsumption-2013-thumbnailccording to the study, IT professionals worldwide want technical and comparative information to be featured in the content they consume. This, along with implementation insights, is what they need to know about you and your solution before their first engagement with your sales rep. Having your reps call without intelligence on the prospect can drastically damage your opportunities. To quote one respondent, an IT Manager in the US, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you. You can email me, but make a phone call without me scheduling it, don’t expect to make my short-list. All I want from sales is pricing. Phone calls are an interruption.”

As prospects continue to evolve – becoming more independent in their research preferences and less receptive to engaging with sales – it’s up to us as marketers to dig deeper and look more closely into the proverbial shopping carts of our prospects. We need to look at the information they have consumed (regardless of media type or content source) and alert our teams when a prospect, and their team members, have the right information necessary for engagement.

To get the full scope on how the research and purchase process has become more independent and how content marketing strategies need to adapt, I encourage you to read the 2013/2014 TechTarget Media Consumption Report. Also, be sure to check back to Mktr2Mktr for more insights and takeaways featured in this study.

content, content marketing, content strategy, international buyer profile research, international marketing, IT buying research, media consumption, sales engagements

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