Developing strategies for B2B marketing requires taking into consideration the unique circumstance of working between companies. Buyers are expected to be far more cognizant of the products they're researching and buying. More importantly, it may take some time before they even consider becoming a customer for a specific business. A recent survey uncovered that most leads are going 80 percent down the sales funnel before they show intent on purchasing the products they're researching (1). With this in mind, a content marketing strategy should be in place to help companies develop a stronger relationship with their customers. Notably, however, the last thing that should be on the minds of marketers and executives is making sales.
The beginning of a beautiful relationship
The important thing to understand about content marketing is that it's not entirely advertising. Instead, it's meant to be a sort of partnership with a prospect, so that they eventually transition into being a buyer. Instead of trying to earn revenue, a marketer is looking to attract attention. By that virtue, clients should be treated not as transactions, but as real people.
What marketers must do then is looking to their content as way to build trust and thought leadership in their companies (2). More importantly, they should be trying to increase awareness of the brand. By regularly offering information and insights to purchasing managers and other buyers, these people will come back without having to feel like they're being sold to. While the process therefore becomes more time-consuming than straight selling, it's far more rewarding, as a company will be able to not only acquire but retain clients in this manner. Other businesses will look to this company for guidance, advice and perhaps some service to fulfill their needs.
Pushing them in the right direction
At the same time, the end result of marketing should always be a sale. The question then becomes when it okay to turn the discussion into a sales proposal. The answer is simple: When the buyer inquires about doing so.
However, even when that happens, there is an expectation that the relationship is to continue until the very end. That is why the marketer should then engage in lead nurturing with the purchaser in question. The buyer at this point in time has an idea at this point of what his or her company wants. Nudging this person to make a final decision requires further discussion and guidance, but with a more direct focus in mind.