The notion that effective marketing requires deep customer knowledge seems obvious. After all, how can a business cater to their requirements unless it understands its customers?
Yet many B2B marketers appear to be failing to connect with them. A recent survey reported that 71% of B2B customers are either indifferent to their vendors, or actively disengaged.
Why is this the case? It might come down to the perception that B2B marketing is impersonal; a feeling there isn’t a need to connect on an individual level in the same way as a B2C marketer does. Customers today have high expectations from their experience of the B2C world. It is only natural that they want to apply those same expectations to the B2B world.
B2B marketers must try to build relationships with a prospect whose needs are inherently not as impulsive or changeable as those of a consumer. Yet the B2B buying journey is also far more complex, not least because B2B services have to be considered with the challenges of organizational and individual needs in mind.
Forbes say improving customer experience is the number one trend marketers needs to develop. So, building an understanding of these unique objectives is essential.
For starters, the effective collection of data is essential to evolve your approach to marketing, and connecting with clients. Without a foundation of accurate customer and prospect data, you’ll be relying on potentially misleading insight to guide your customer-centric strategy.
In particular, you’ll need to look at the structure of a client's business and the purchasing decision journey. How does a customer buy? When do they buy and how long does it take? More important, who makes the final decision? Use this to develop an understanding of the commons interests, motivations and expectations these personas exhibit and shape your marketing appropriately.
Just as B2B marketers must show clients that their solutions can serve their organizational and operational needs, they can also invigorate their connection with customers. This requires an approach that suits a prospect’s organizational framework.
This assures customers that, not only does a vendor have an understanding of how their business’ objectives are met, but can accommodate the purchasing procedures of that specific business.
Customer-centricity in B2B demands attentiveness and compatibility, and a commitment to developing a meaningful relationship with customers that will continue long beyond the sale.
With this in mind, a vendor’s relationship with its client must evolve along with that client’s market and industry needs. Key here is putting the user at the forefront of what you do, which actually takes priority over your product or service. Technology cannot provide any value if nobody is using (or can use) it.
Core to this is a critical eye towards your own model. It requires a willingness to understand how and where you failed and succeeded with previous clients. Without this awareness, a vendor will find itself slipping back into the behaviors that create the unstable relationships.
In order to build a meaningful, long-lasting, and mutual rapport with a client, a vendor must treat them with as much attentiveness and care as they would an individual customer. The alternative model will prove to be ultimately ineffective, and—in that case—it’s the vendor who will end up taking the fall.
Marketers now have to focus more on the experience than the goal, simply because your customers and clients demand control of how they get from point A to point B.
To do that, marketers need to understand the customer journey, as well as find new ways to intervene appropriately, at the best times.