- Why do businesses buy? No business buys a product or service for pure “fun”. All business purchases are for a business purpose. These would include buying machinery to make something that the business sells. Or it could be buying raw materials to use on the machine. It could also be buying consulting services to advise on their tax, marketing or manufacturing. Compare this with the pure fun an individual consumer feels on buying and enjoying popcorn and soda at a movie. Try to better understand why your business customer buys your product or service. This why is the business reason and is something that needs to be really clear to the marketer.
- The Buying Center makes the buy decision: The buying center makes the buy decision for most high value products and services. And the buying center is an informal group of people who weigh in on buying something for the organization.
- The current supplier has a big “relationship” advantage: The current supplier or your competitor has a big “relationship” advantage. Your competitor deals with many people across the buying organization over years and buyer and seller employees become friends. Beyond personal friendships your competitor has developed the ability to understand changing B2B market requirements well. To break in to markets where existing suppliers work- you need to come up with a more innovative solution. If there is no competitor already in place, your challenge is to educate the customer. When there is no one supplying your product the buying firm probably is not aware that they need your product.
- How to reach members of the Buying Center? Every B2B marketer is challenged with being able to reach the “right” person or the “decision” maker. The problem is that in buying centers there is no individual who decides as a sole individual. There may not be a formal committee and there may not be documentation of who suggested what. A HR-Safety Training influencer might make a comment on the corridor like “we need to provide more safety training on the new XYZ machine” and the buying organization suddenly has to find a new supplier who packages safety training with equipment. Ask yourself if you are only trying to reach the VP of manufacturing or do you also have outreach efforts to folks who manage workplace safety and training in HR?
- The buying or supply chain manager manages the process but does not really decide: The purchase or supply department is a mystery to the inexperienced B2B marketer. In the Buying Center language this person is called the “buyer” but is merely in-charge of the process. For the supply folks it is more important to keep the internal user happy. In fact, purchase departments consider users as internal customers. The supply or purchasing department is generally organized as “indirect” and “direct” purchases. Indirect purchases are items that do not go into the main product but help the organization. These could include stationery items, cafeteria,facilities and travel.In such situations, the buyer is part of the “indirect” spend group where they regularly put out Request for Proposals (RFP’s) for indirect but regular items like stationery,travel etc. If you supply direct items that directly go into the business for its specific mission then the buyer wants to make sure that the using department is happy with your product. Yes you would technically consider them as buyers because they do the Purchase Order paperwork and make sure that you get paid. For example, a supply or purchase department cannot hire an advertising agency unless the marketing folks actually initiate the request with specific vendors in mind. The interesting part is that the CEO might be in the room when each advertising agency is invited to pitch. However, even if the CEO favors a particular agency’s pitch she/he cannot decide unilaterally to hire that agency because the marketing folks must own the decision. Therefore it’s important to start with the User in the buying center.
- The B2B Customer has to get the work done: At the end of the day, the customer is trying to get the work done. A top manager wants the team to be motivated and is very unlikely to push for a product or service if people who will use it – seem to hate it from the start. Unless there are huge advantages to the organization and your organization is willing to support the customer team to success. It is never about just buying and forgetting in B2B markets, at least for direct use supplies and equipment. An emphasis on great after sales support can go a long way in winning B2B customers.
Once you have figured out the general structure of the buying center for the industry you are trying to market to , it’s time to roll out your marketing strategy. Here are some ideas to use for Google AdWords and other digital advertising to reach the Buying Center members. Note that digital advertising augments all your off line outreach efforts like sales calls, trade shows etc. depending on how effective you find them to be.
- Campaign by Buying Center role: It’s a good idea to organize your campaigns by buying center roles. Thus you could have a separate campaign for users of your product or service that speaks to their concerns (pain points) and aspirations. Within the campaign for users you can create separate Ad Groups for each pain point that you can address. Similarly, a separate campaign can pinpoint the concerns of the manager of the unit that uses your product. If existing customers tell you that there is 20% less defectives using your system then that’s a campaign and message that will go well with managers of other potential B2B customers.
- Geographical targeting: Using geographic targeting around where your customers are and you know where they are.
- Time of day and mobile: Do use the time of day and day of week features to target your Buying Center members accurately. And yes always emphasize mobile display of your ad.
- Make it easy to connect: Make it easy to connect once they click on your ad.
Since you control the budget – it is easy and important to keep advertising. When a salesperson makes a sales call and you ad is running – it can only help your sales effort. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.