What are the key issues facing B2B marketers? According to MarketingSherpa's Sean Donahue (who spoke last week at the Demand Generation Summit in San Francisco), the top 5 issues are as follows:
- The Growing Committee. Sales cycles are now being extended and complicated by the addition of more decision influencers and decision makers. Research suggests that the average number is 21
in companies over 1000 employees (nearly 7 at companies with 100-500 employees). That's quite a gauntlet to run.
- The Right Content at the Right Time. Given the expansion of the buying committee, marketers are challenged to present positioning and messaging content that is relevant to varying parties at different stages of the buying cycle. In the awareness and research stages of the buying cycle, it's vital to provide content that addresses high level issues and buyer problems. This is where sellers are least confident in their development of messages. In the negotiation and purchasing stages, it's appropriate to produce content that's more product and solution oriented. Unsurprisingly, sellers are more confident about producing this type of material.
- Getting Landing Pages Built and Tested. Research suggests that marketers feel they have too little time to create stellar landing pages and believe like their departments are too overloaded with other work to do this right. This is a problem. It's where the rubber meets the road. If the copy writing and layout are all wrong, conversions will collapse -- or never rise in the first place.
- Being Everywhere. In 75-80% of cases, buyers say they found their vendors (not the other way around). This has to be a discouraging statistic as far as marketers are concerned. Won't their bosses slash their budgets if they find out that marketing is only influencing buyers in 20% of all cases? Not so fast. The point here is that you have to be available when the buyer is ready to act. Buyers may or may not remember that you influenced them in the first place. But you have to be there when they need you. As we've written previously, you better be in their peripheral vision.
- Handing Off the Right Leads. Many marketers continue to confuse mere leads with qualified or "sales-ready" leads. Big mistake. Better to have fewer leads, but better leads. Best practice marketers tend to generate fewer leads, but turn more of them into prospects and more of those into sales. The question is: What will it take to generate the right leads instead of merely more leads? If your marketing department is obsessed with the raw variety of lead, then its obsessions are misplaced.
What all this tells me is that organizations are going to have to get increasingly serious about generating relevant content that engages the right decision makers/influencers at the right moment. Strategically developed and compelling content can enable marketers to address all of these challenges. It's all about relevance and credibility. Without that, you are, well, incredibly irrelevant.