When should companies face up to the fact that their B2B marketing needs to get customer-centric rather than product-focused?
There’s no better time than when a mega-brand – in this case Dell – raises its hand to say “yes, we’ve made the shift, we’ve been on a ‘content journey’ and it works”.
In a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing webinar, Dell’s UK Marketing Director Simon Hall shared both what Dell did and the reasons why talking exclusively about “product” from a B2B marketing point of view is now swimming against the tide. Or maybe a tidal wave.
As Hall pointed out, the former habit of potential buyers knocking on the door with an open invitation for sales team to sell to them is no longer the way. The customers of today “self-inform” before they ever reach you and are “more accepting of receiving content from a company via various platforms” to assist their consideration phase.
And if you don’t believe his opinion, you might be swayed by his statistics. Research carried out among B2B buyers showed:
- 60% of customers are doing research before engaging.
- 93% of B2B customers do digital research, mostly via search.
- Search leads have a 15% close rate versus 2% for outbound marketing.
B2B buyers are also turning more to video to learn about products and 1 in 4 are now purchasing via mobile device.
And despite what some B2B businesses might believe; that their customer makes decisions based on a logical process, Hall points to a high degree of emotional connection with the buying process and decision – and for good reason: ”B2B buyers need more reassurance as their decisions may affect their career,” he said.
Underlining this, Tony Zambito – buyer insights and personas professional – said: “The role of emotions and goals in B2B buying decisions can account for nearly two-thirds of the elements going into pursuing a choice. Whereby a third is the use of a rational logic and criteria based element. B2B organizations that cannot engage customers today on these most important two-thirds elements will face an uphill battle.”
DELL’S CONTENT JOURNEY
So once Dell had established what was influencing prospective B2B customers, its marketers had to find a way of creating the right kind of content to support that.
Simon Hall, citing the company’s work in the public sector, highlighted the need for customers to find solutions to help them achieve their objectives.
And it was deemed essential to inject the voices of customers into the content, pinpointing their needs and featuring real solutions.
This led to a six-point content approach:
- Customers – their stories told in their language.
- Integration – of services/software/hardware in the content
- Focused on customers’ concern and challenges
- Richer content – diagrams, video, etc.
- Sales – including their commercial propositions
- Relevance – to the target customers
And, not to forget, the content was shared via Dell’s social media channels to help create the broadest reach.
What was the result? Hall described the greater credibility Dell gained in the public sector and the increased number of inbound leads generated. The outcome was so successful other Dell teams in international territories adopted the approach as best practice.
Another campaign, for Dell’s security solutions business, created content based on research findings. And the company found that the richness of content drove excellent engagement metrics and a large increase in visits to the dedicated website established for the campaign.
In targeting its preferred C-suite audience, the company found that prospects needed to consume at least seven pieces of content before making a buying decision.
Hall was candid in his description of this whole experience – a shift from product to customer-centricity – as a journey in marketing to re-calibrate customers’ understanding of Dell and why they should make the choice to buy Dell.
But what about the naysayers, unconvinced of the value in customer-centric rather than product-focused content? As Hall put it, bluntly: “Nobody argues with what the customer says – therefore it’s a no-brainer and encounters less resistance.” And, he added, as long as you demonstrate consistency in message, brand and creative – where there needs to be control – you can still show you’re a responsible brand advocate and marketer.
The content revolution is very much in progress. What B2B content is going to make your customers and prospects treat you differently from the rest?
Image: c/o Dell and the CIM