What B2B Media need to know about B2B buyer behaviour

b2b buyer behaviour

Why B2B Media need to understand B2B buyers

As a B2B publisher, your advertisers are facing a rapidly changing environment as they target your audience (their customers) to build awareness of their products and services, from technology to professional services, and convert to sales.

B2B buyers (aka your audience) are becoming more elusive and their decision processes are more hidden. This in turn is driving changing behaviour among larger B2B marketers (aka your advertisers).

B2B Media who are courting large organisations for marketing solutions and sponsorship need to understand these changes and adapt their propositions to suit the new environment.

Last week I attended Ignite, a conference for corporate B2B marketers, run in London by B2B Marketing.  Here’s what I learned and how I think it should affect how B2B publishers should respond.

B2B Buyer behaviour (aka your audience)

Big ticket enterprise purchasing decisions are becoming scarier, and more complex. And the buyers themselves are changing as Millennials reach senior roles. Here’s how B2B buyer behaviour differs from previous generations.

  • Prefer to research buying options online – and avoid sales people
  • Terrified of making the wrong choice (like peer recommendations and companies that feel like a safe choice)
  • Choose a known brand – with prominent thought leaders
  • Prefer video or data visualisation to a copy-heavy report
  • Only 3-5% of audience in a buying cycle at any point in time
  • Slow decision processes – large buying committees

B2B marketer behaviour (aka your advertisers/sponsors)

B2B marketers have to provide more content to everyone involved in a buying decision, track who responds, and quickly nurture their prospects.

  • Easy to define the TAM (Total addressable market) and target segments but hard to discover who is in the 3-5% ready to buy – people who are not ready to buy avoid sales rep calls
  • Keen to market the right content for each part of the funnel – top/middle/bottom
  • Want to build trust with brand and thought leadership
  • Need multiple contacts per organisation (decision maker and influencers)
  • Run long campaigns (6-18m) and aim to nurture people through the buying process
  • Measure everything, and be prepared to pivot based on results
  • Target telemarketing to the very best prospects – but avoid being too late
  • Brief sales teams thoroughly, and pass them hot prospects in real-time

How B2B media companies should respond

Smart B2B publishers need to make life easier for their advertisers, by providing good data, smart content advice and flexible, trackable campaigns.

  • Make segmentation easy – build up good first party data on job role, org type, location – and include influencers not just decision makers
  • Understand how your audience consume content – what topics, format and time of day (reports, data viz, audio, video, live…)
  • Advise your client on what format works for each segment – and support in co-creating content
  • Provide opportunities for thought leadership – live events, round tables
  • Plan campaigns that can target top, middle and bottom of funnel
  • Track everything in real time – to allow campaigns to be tweaked in flight
  • Build peer recommendations, case studies and community to allay buyer anxiety
  • Deliver leads to clients with deep data and in real time

Next steps

Consider how well your current marketing solutions proposition matches the new needs of your advertisers. Upgrade the quality of your data, and your ability to track engagement and responses to client marketing activity. Take a more consultative approach with your top clients to tailor campaigns across multiple channels to help them generate the best prospects. And try out new, more engaging formats for client-sponsored content.

To share experiences with over 80 other specialist media owners, join the Speciall Media Group on Linked In. It’s free (for now) and invite only, with discussions under Chatham House rules. Media owners and publishers only, no suppliers or vendors.

Or get in touch for an informal chat over a real or virtual coffee.

About the author

Carolyn Morgan has acquired, launched, built, and sold specialist media businesses in print, digital and events. She now advises niche consumer and B2B publishers on developing new products and digital revenue streams as a consultant and NED.

Read more about Carolyn

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