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Eric Got Me Thinking About The Next Buyer Revolution

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In my most recent article, Boost Demand Generation Using Target Ready Buyer Models, a comment was posted by the ever thoughtful Eric Wittlake, author of the blog B2B Digital Marketing and a member of the team at the Integrated B2B Marketing Agency – Babcock and Jenkins.  Here is a portion of what he said:

 “As more buyers wait to engage with sales and as more companies, in order to attract potential buyers, open up their content, the need to meet your audience’s needs before you know who they are is likely going to be one of the next revolutions we see.”

This comment really got me thinking.  What I have been thinking about is that we are in the midst of the next revolution right now – that we are in the midst of a business version of the Arab Spring.  Business today has its’ own Buyer Spring taking place today and some businesses are yet not awaken to the reality of this revolution.  Like the chaotic nature of revolutions, I am going to share the random thoughts I have been thinking about since reading Eric’s comment:

Anonymous Environment

Eric, in the same comment, also used the expression “creating demand in an anonymous environment.”  In many ways, it is a buyer’s revolt against years of having to first identify themselves before they can get an ounce of information.  The registration debate is really not about registration.  It’s about attempting to block a buyer’s revolt about identifying themselves.  Business needs to accept the fact that it will never know who is behind the door – until they knock and say let me in.  If your business has been engaged in knocking on the door of a buyer endlessly and no one is opening it – it means no one is home to greet you on your terms.

Organization Infrastructure

Many businesses still have not adapted their organizational structure and operations to an anonymous environment.  Marketing and sales functions as well as operations are still geared to the days when a buyer had to pick up the phone and let it be known they need information.  Buyers realizing that they were going to identify themselves in the process.  I hear the “but, but – we have a website” cries out there.  Take a hard look at it and see if it is any different than the phone – what are you requiring of visitors to do to get an ounce of information?  Is your sales function still geared towards that “first” call, designed 25 years ago, under the presumption the buyer knows nothing yet?

Research and Insight

Businesses that know they are in the midst of the Buyer Spring revolution are going to double down on research and insights.  Identifying buyer needs and goals, before you know who they are, are going to make the difference between surviving the next revolution and being exiled.  Business will need to connect the quantitative with the qualitative to make this work.   And I am not talking about buyer personas here folks – which have been bastardized to mean everything but the real research and insight intent established in the late ‘90’s.  I am talking about real world buyer research that means getting out from behind your computer, laptop, or tablet screen and knowing buyers in their environments.

Rush to Tactics

The rush to tactics such as content marketing, demand generation, marketing automation, inbound marketing, and more is a rush to meet mass Buyer Spring movements where they are marching in the buyer square.  B2B marketing is rushing head on into tactics without thinking about some of the ramifications of this next revolution.  While there are businesses enjoying success with these tactics, there are equal numbers or more getting little return because they haven’t yet figured out what their new strategies and business models need to be in this next revolution.

Smart Content

I like this term which has been bantered around – more so than content marketing.  Why?  Because it makes you think about how to make your content smart for buyers.  A big part of this next revolution – this Buyer Spring – is buyers not wanting a return to old style push marketing.  No matter how you cut it – and I am talking on the basis of buyer interviews I’ve conducted – when buyers hear and read that you are doing content marketing they still see it as a mental image of push marketing.  And believe me I am continuously amazed how companies are broadcasting to their buyers about their great content marketing.  Shutting down automatic defense behaviors is no easy feat so why make it harder?

 The Waiting Game

Buyers are waiting longer and longer to engage with sales.  Getting predictive about what’s happening in this waiting game is going to test the abilities of businesses to anticipate and be in a state of readiness when buyers do identify themselves.  B2B leaders are going to be measured on how well they can get their organization in a state of anticipation and readiness.  A significant majority of businesses are still oriented towards persuasion.  In the next revolution buyers are saying – be ready to tell me something important.

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These are random thoughts and I am sure I will think of more as you will have more.  One thing is clear, just as in the Arab Spring, the Buyer Spring will result in old regimes being thrown out and old ways of doing business being cast out like furniture being thrown out of the palace window.  Revolutions and democracy building is a messy affair as we are seeing with the Arab Spring.  In terms of the Buyer Spring revolution, it is going to be messy at first.  Businesses need to start figuring out today whether they are going to fight or join the revolution.  Which side are you going to be on?

Hey Eric, thanks for making me think!

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  • Kenny madden

    2 million IT buyers agree.

  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your reactions. Great stuff here, I’m not believing that my simple comment sparked all of it!

    Love this line: “The registration debate is really not about registration. It’s about attempting to block a buyer’s revolt about identifying themselves.” I whole-heartedly agree. Registration is about companies saying “do it my way” instead of focusing on helping their audience and buyers “do it their way”. 

    Collect the information you need to deliver what your audience is asking for. If they ask for a phone call, get a phone number. If they want your newsletter, get an email address. 

    Mini rant: If they want a white paper and your registration form has the question “how soon do you plan to make a purchase?”. First, what purchase? So often, this question is so poorly worded that the information can’t possibly be accurate. Then, what are you possibly going to do with this information that has to do with delivering the info your visitor is looking for? Answer: Nothing.

    I have been watching the EU and Canadian privacy regulations with some interest. Marketers seem to be blind to this trend right now, but if similar laws come to the US, it could quickly drive changes to today’s prevailing registration practices.

    • http://www.buyerology.com/ Tony Zambito

      Believe it Eric!  It was a great comment and it did spark plenty of thinking.  I love the mini-rant.  I always do the “you’ve got to be kidding me” bit when I see that.  It is a “nothing” question indeed and more offending than anything else.  I am not up to speed on these changes in EU and Canada but I am sure they are going to mark significant rethinking about registration.  And here is a public invitation for you to write a guest post Eric – will welcome it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.tobinhess Aaron Tobin-Hess

    Great
    article. The most valuable information marketing can deliver to sales
    is related to a prospect
    or customers’ propensity to buy specific products. B2B Purchase Behavior
    Data–what companies buy and how their behavior changes over time–is
    the most reliable indicator of a prospects’ intent and/or capacity to
    buy. Fortunately, B2B purchase behavior data
    is now available and is rapidly becoming a highly-valuable corporate
    asset.   

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