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What B2B Professionals Want From
B2B Marketing?

By: Robert Hennessey

What B2B Professionals Want From <br> B2B Marketing?

We begin with some observations on what B2B professionals tell us they want from B2B marketing and a B2B marketing community. This input could help to restructure the B2B marketing mindset.

Below is a sampling of what we have found. Read on to learn more.

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So what do B2B Professionals want from B2B marketing?

B2B Professionals Want…

Self-Directed Marketing

Buyers are engaging in a self-directed marketing process where they systematically “target” specific solutions to their everyday business problems. Using the Internet customers can quickly find solutions efficiently among many sellers. Buyers seek content that is relevant; and insightful to help them evaluate options note of who is providing these solutions in a way that places the needs of their customer first.

This self-directed marketing process ensures total buyer control over the gathering, learning and acquiring information for making an informed purchase decision with minimal privacy invasion. This process is the foundation of a buyer-centric reality that many have failed to recognize. The fact is that buyers are in charge on the Internet, not the sellers.

We are barely into the new “targeting” by marketers, but the surprise will be who is ultimately doing the targeting. In the B2B world, it will be done by the buyers, not the sellers.

Buyers targeting Sellers has been underway for some time. Look at the facts that (some say as high as 80% or more) buyers go to the Internet first to find solutions and evaluate potential suppliers. They used to talk with vendors first, not anymore.

Need more proof, how about the fact that buyers, not sellers have collapsed purchase cycles. In many industries, purchase cycles have shrunk by 50% or more. Buyers go to the Internet first to source information and solutions than when they are ready to buy; they contact sellers. Not when a seller wants to sell them something.

A Desire for 1-to-1 Relationships

B2B professionals do not want to be the object of targeted marketing no matter what you call it. The advent of marketing automation and application of content marketing in combination are driving us all away from the promise of using the Internet to develop 1-to-1 business relationships. It seems to B2B professionals that we are automating ourselves back to the old ways of 1-to-many in today’s marketing communications.

Lest we forget, the old way of the Web was about getting people’s attention. This way of Attention marketing has been a natural way of thinking about advertising/marketing since its inception and was carried over to the Web. After all, advertising and marketing are conducted by sellers that want to “attract” and now “target” buyers.

The problem is the desire to entice buyers is so high; it compels many to accept the myth that B2B marketing can persuade a buyer what is true; all you need to do is target them. A contrived reality and assumption sold to business by the media to sell “targeting” in B2B markets.

Now with the advent of big data and social media capturing all our personal information the latest marketing buzzword is “targeting.” However, there is a fatal flaw in this approach to marketing to B2B professionals targeting will not work with them.

David “Doc” Searls, wrote an article in 2006 in the LINUXJournal about what he called the “Intention Economy.” Searls said, “The Intention Economy is about buyers finding sellers, not sellers finding (or “capturing”) buyers.” Unfortunately, this lesson has yet to be learned by the vast Internet media.

However, no matter what is thrown at business buyers eventually they figure it out. B2B buyers are not being fooled any longer. If it smells like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck. An automated email sent in response to content marketing one after another does not support 1-to1 relationship building. Just the opposite they generate the feeling of alienation. A typical comment from buyers, “If the emails I receive, do not specifically address my needs and concerns and are just broad-based fishing expeditions disguised as “insightful content then it means nothing to me.”

Relevant & Less Quantity of Content

B2B buyers are also overwhelmed with the ever-increasing deluge of content now targeted at them. The marketing automation revolution is in full swing and is so pervasive to the point of diminishing returns. Many B2B buyers are now thinking twice about completing Web forms that will result in a never-ending stream of email. Many others complain about the poor quality of the content they do receive. The combination of sub-par quality, lack of relevance and the excessive quantity is turning B2B professionals off.

Useful, Quality Content

Another marketing wave that has sent everyone overboard is content marketing. Almost every piece of content marketing coming to B2B professionals claims “real” insight. This amount of information is already hurting all content including the extraordinarily insightful. B2B buyers want insight, but it has to be legitimate. Also, they want practical applications of ideas so they can use the content to solve problems and get results.

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