Marketing to businesses isn’t the same as marketing to individual consumers. That much is obvious.
What’s not so obvious is what makes a strong B2B marketing strategy today – especially given most professionals are experiencing a totally new way of working since the modern workforce was turned on its head.
This transformation isn’t just changing how B2B buyers think and behave – it’s making them reevaluate their readiness to adapt to change fast, among other things.
Staying in the know about what that change is, and what it means for your strategy is crucial to survive and thrive in the new landscape we find ourselves in.
Our latest wave of research from our GWI Work data set, representing over 330 million professionals across 10 markets enables marketers in the B2B space to pinpoint who their ideal buyers are, what defines them, where to reach them, and what content will resonate most.
Here’s how data like this can provide a window into the world of the new working professional, and what it takes to weave the findings into your strategy for the right results.
What drives the B2B buyer?
1. Information (but in certain formats).
Professionals, like consumers, expect to find the answers they need quickly and easily. The best purchase journeys are those that pinpoint exactly what your customer needs at their stage of the process.
And like the B2C consumer, professionals have certain expectations of the types of content they’re presented with, and where to look to find it.
While you may see social content and reviews as the go-to mediums of product research for the B2C buyer, the B2B buyer might be more likely to seek testimonials, case studies, white papers and personal recommendation.
36% of professionals use social media for product research, compared to 44% of consumers in general.
Being attentive to the kind of information, messages and formats expected at certain stages is key to staying top of mind.
When it comes to making the final purchasing decision, security is valued above all else.
54% of professionals say security is very important when deciding to buy a product.
This specifically refers to the use of data, which they want to be protected and encrypted. Armed with this kind of knowledge about the B2B buyer, vendors can tailor their product offering and messaging to ensure they’re hitting on key requirements.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, professionals are an ambitious bunch.
66% say they’re very career-oriented, and 73% say they’re driven to achieve more in life.
For vendors, capitalizing on this comes down to presenting the ‘right kind’ of value to them on a professional level. Giving your buyer the tools to support their progression and demonstrate to decision-makers that your product will benefit the business makes the process much smoother.
Even though B2B buyers aren’t parting with their own money, the stakes are arguably higher for them.
The aim for any business is to make profit, so this should be at the forefront of your mind when developing your targeting strategy.
Professionals want to see the value your offering will provide, and although money isn’t something you’ll shout about in your content from the beginning, it will play an important role later on in their purchase journey.
51% of professionals state value as a very important factor in the decision to purchase, whilst price is slightly lower down the list at 48%.
Remember, the professional will need to make a case for purchasing a product so they’ll need to demonstrate the rewards are worth the investment.
Steps to shaping a data-led B2B marketing strategy
Crafting an impactful B2B marketing strategy comes down to knowing who your audience is, sizing the market, mapping out the journey, and delivering the right message at every stage.
But the key to succeeding in each of these areas comes down to the accuracy of the research – this is where data takes center stage.
1. Find the right data.
A detailed source that offers a detailed look into the roles, sectors, demographics and behaviors of your target audience goes a long way towards detailing who your audience is, and what they do.
But to take this to the next level, you need to understand the thought processes behind these actions.
Having the ability to integrate psychographic data points into your analysis adds a layer of clarity that demographics and behaviors alone can’t offer.
Combining this with the ability to trend the data over time means you can get to grips with the evolution of the B2B landscape in their field.
2. Define your personas.
Developing a B2B persona appears daunting because of the extra layers of complexity added when targeting an individual as part of a wider business.
And because businesses don’t willingly offer information about their needs, who makes the decisions, who might influence decisions and so on – using third-party data sets like GWI Work is the key to unlocking these insights.
When developing your target persona, here are areas to focus on (with a small sample of the thousands of data points you could collect for each):
- The roles: Who are the people within the business who will benefit from your product or service? Will they make the decision to purchase, or will they need to pitch it to a manager?
- Demographics: How old are they? Are they male or female?
- Behaviors: How and where do they search for solutions, brands and products? What are their preferred methods of communication with vendors?
- Psychographics: What are the main purchase drivers? How do they perceive themselves and their roles? What do they value most from the products and services they search for? What are their top reasons for purchasing new products?
3. Size the opportunity.
Because you’re targeting professionals, which already represents a segment of the wider population, the B2B target markets tend to be smaller than B2C markets.
With GWI Work, once you’ve identified your audience, it’s possible to get an accurate estimate of the size of your market – and the most lucrative areas to target with your content.
With a clear picture of this, you can effectively forecast spend, and campaign returns.
See our full step-by-step guide to market sizing here.
4. Optimize your presence in the right places.
We already mentioned the B2B buyer has specific expectations of the kind of content they expect to see at their stage of the journey.
Solid insight can help you pinpoint exactly what your target sector (and the buyers working there) look for from their products and services, and where they look for them.
This will focus your channel strategy across:
- Paid campaigns: Knowing the lucrative platforms, sites and formats your audience enjoy is key here, and how much budget to assign on a campaign level.
- Organic channels: Knowing where to invest in building your presence, the kinds of information your audience looks for, and the types of content that will cultivate a dedicated following.
Finding your niche and harnessing the opportunity
The challenge of B2B marketers has always been getting visibility into who, what and where their audience is.
This limits how far you can effectively reach your audiences with engaging B2B marketing campaigns.
Armed with the right kind of data, it’s possible to gain clarity into the often murky world of B2B marketing, allowing you to:
- Identify your buyers.
- See how they think.
- Map their journey.
- Track trends over time.
This will result in more refined campaigns, more effective spend and, ultimately, greater returns – it boils down to sizing up the opportunity, and delivering on the needs of your audience.