Early Stage Buying Phase Gains Ground in B2B Marketing

Earlier this month, I reported on an Eccolo Media study that reviewed the growing importance of hybrid collateral in the B2B market. While B2B merchants are updating their content to appeal to tech-​savvy buyers, there’s another change taking place in this sector. Marketers are realizing they can sway a purchase by focusing resources on decision makers who have control over the early stages of the buying process.

UMB TechWeb’s recently released study focused on the purchase process used by over 850 tech and business professionals. To begin, researchers identified the triggers that prompt a purchase cycle. These triggers include: “a business problem that needs to be solved, an operational or process-​related issue that must be addressed, or a market opportunity that creates more revenue or competitive leverage.” The purchasing organization then interacts with marketers who have created content that often targets senior managers who are close to buying a product or service. Researchers see several problems with this  process.

First, marketers are often designing content for decision makers by job title instead of the specific role a buyer has in a purchasing organization. Next, most marketing content targets decision makers who have influence at the end of the process. But employees who have significant influence over what gets purchased are often involved in the early stages of the buying process as the following figure show:

  • Determine need: 61%
  • Define requirements: 58%
  • Evaluate and recommend: 64%
  • Selection: 46%
  • Approval: 25%
  • Implementation: 44%

In addition, researchers say that a B2B marketer can increase the chances of a sale by developing content that targets each step in the purchase cycle. Jonathan Vlock, Director of Client Marketing Strategy at UBM TechWeb says marketers “should conduct a content inventory and audit annually, if not semi-​annually, to refine and optimize their marketing communications strategy." Doing so will improve the outcome of the promotional and sales effort.

[Source: Marketers Missing Critical Opportunity. UBM TechWeb. 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.