By Jon Franko, Thinker & Partner at Gorilla 76.
The following was taken from Chapter 3 of The Definitive Guide to Industrial Marketing, an educational resource from Gorilla 76.
When it comes to the Xs and Os of B2B marketing, many traits are shared across niches. One such trait is the fact that the buying process is phased. Seldom does someone buy on an impulse or at first pass. Knowing and understanding these phases is crucial to industrial marketing success.
As highlighted below, you’ll see that industrial marketing typically involves a much more in-depth process. Following a buyer’s realization that he or she has a need that must be filled, three distinct phases of the buying process ensue.
The three stages of the industrial buying process
|Stage||Buyer’s interaction||Role of marketing|
|Research||The buyer begins a search process to discover answers to questions, solutions to a problem or providers of a product/service.||The seller should aim to be discovered by the buyer as early as possible in the buying process. The earlier this discovery, the more influence the seller can have on the often long buying process.|
|Evaluation||The buyer develops a short list of products or service providers and begins evaluating each in depth.||The seller’s job is to qualify his or her business and prompt a sales conversation. Note that 57% of the industrial buying process happens before contact is ever made with a salesman. Educational, qualifying website content is critical.|
|Purchase||The buyer has reached the point of decision.||Marketing should have done its job and its up to sales to close the deal.|
How to align your industrial marketing strategy with the industrial buying process
Because the mindset of a buyer – your potential customer – is very different during each of the three distinct phases of the buying process, you must carefully consider how you can fulfill his or her needs and solve his or her problems during each. These six steps should help guide you along the way.
- Identify your buyer
Who is involved in the buying process within your target audience’s company? Engineers seeking specs? Purchasing departments seeking low bids? Business owners seeking long-term partnerships?
You must clearly identify your buyer before you can think about making a sale. If you don’t, you’ll be inefficient in your marketing efforts.
- Identify the buyer’s need
What problems is your buyer trying to solve? What challenges are they trying to overcome? What solutions do they think they need? What solutions do they actually need?
Answer these questions and you’ll start down your path of truly providing value for your potential customer.
- Learn where buyers go to seek out answers to their questions and solutions to their problems
Where do your buyers gather information online? Do they first go to search engines like Google and Bing, or is there primary reference industry directories and trade journals? Are industrial sector resources like ThomasNet or GlobalSpec relevant?
Insist on only fishing where the fish are. It’s common sense, but it’s surprising how many companies settle for less.
- Learn what specifically they’re trying to learn
What keywords do you suspect they’re using in their searches? Are they searching by product? By service? By problem? By solution?
Real data can be gathered through sources like Google AdWords Keyword Planner to validate or negate what you suspect to be true.
- Answer their questions
There’s simply no better place than your own website to answer common questions and provide the beginnings of solutions to those problems through written, visual or watchable content. Educational content actually helps your buyer and begins to establish trust in a way that promotional marketing language very rarely will.
This is web-marketing 101.
- Compel your website visitor to take a lead-generation action
Right now your website visitor is an anonymous person. No face. No name. No phone number. No email address. You need to assure you prompt a real conversation before that anonymous visitor leaves and never comes back.
“Gating” educational content behind a form that requires at least an email address in order to access allows you to trade something of value for your prospect’s contact information. And this in turn allows you to take control of the sales conversation. This concept is explored in depth in this Industrial Marketing Tactical Execution Guide, which you can download for free here.
So there you have it…
That’s how you can start to align your marketing with the buying process of industrial professionals. Don’t be fooled – it’s not as simple as it might look. But the hard work is well worth the effort. And it will get you headed in the direction of better marketing ROI and ultimately more sales. After all, that’s the point of marketing. Spend money to make even more.