Mapping your customer experience journey
In today’s digital marketing environment, you need to truly understand your buyers as individuals: they are not a business, they are people. And they are not waiting for you to solve their problem; they have access to the information and testimonials from their peers to figure it out for themselves. As a B2B marketer, you need to guide buyers through your experience. Have you clearly mapped your buyer’s journey from the moment they indicate their need to their need for post-sales service? Such an exercise is a great start, but it must also include the other four to six people involved in the decision making process. Do you understand how the needs of a complex buying center align, where their independent pain points differ, and where competing decisions will create the most friction? If so, fantastic, you are ready to consider how to build an experience that meets these needs, and puts you in the best position to capture more business. If not, you had better get started.
Define the role of each channel
Each sales and service channel provides your business a different measure of coverage or control, and is provided at a different cost or complexity. For example, a sales account team gives you a high amount of control over who and where they target, is somewhat limited in its coverage of markets and products, but is costly to maintain due to staffing, and is relatively complex to the amount of training, monitoring and management required. On the other hand, distribution partners give you broad market coverage, at a relatively low cost, however control of your brand is ceded to the partner. Moreover, managing this relationship can be both costly and complex. The role and mix of channel usage, whether they are already being used by your company, or are being considered for the future, need to be carefully defined to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness of your sales program.
Focus on the outcomes
The term digital is broadly used, sometimes so much so that it creates a dilution or argument as to what we mean by it. At its core, it is simply a technological way to achieve an outcome. So first and foremost, decide what you want to achieve as a business, and then decide how digital can help you meet those objectives. Want to capture engineers at the time they are deciding on which products they should use in their prototype? Consider using Product Listing Ads associated with information aggregation sites and search engines. Want to be able to offer customers a way to more directly purchase through your company at a lower cost to serve? Online ordering and servicing capabilities may be a good approach. Want to define your brand through innovative experiences in your space? Build emerging experiences that are relevant to your business context such as virtual or augmented reality experiences that bring your brand, product or services to life.
Digital in all of its forms is a big investment, however that is not an excuse to ruminate on your next steps. The pace of digital change in the B2B space is accelerating, not slowing. Get involved today, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be complete, but it does require a crystal clear strategy, roadmap and action plan.