It will come as a shock to exactly none of you that the buyer’s journey has undergone a major transformation in recent years.
We know this in part because we have each ascended to the role of the empowered consumer in our own right. We expect to be able to get the information we need about a product or service on our own, and we recoil from blatant product promotion. We expect brands to meet us where we are and prove their value before earning our business.
As B2B marketers, we stand on the other side of the equation in our professional lives, each trying to determine how best to advance the interests of our organization in the Age of the Customer.
This shift to self-guided, highly expectant customers is a challenge, certainly, but it’s also an amazing opportunity.
What Do Buyers Want?
Once upon a time, marketers were charged with advertising—figuring out how to showcase the benefits of our products in a way that pushed potential customers to pick up the phone and talk with the sales team.
Today, promotion alone isn’t going to cut it. Buyers expect more.
I’m sure you’ve seen the stats: more than half the buyer’s journey is complete these days without a prospect having engaged with anyone in the company directly.
Why? Because buyers want to direct their own discovery process, and it’s our job to guide them in a way that feels seamless and natural.
This begins and ends with quality content.
“Quality” doesn’t just mean good—it means intentional. Every piece of content must prove the value of the brand by building subject-matter authority, giving away insights and advice for free, and becoming a trusted resource in the eyes of your target customer. And you can’t just churn information out into the world as it pops into your head. The best content is created for someone, taking into account not just who they are, but where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Doing so requires a content operation, and having a content operation in place makes great customer experience possible. (More on that in the blog coming next Friday.)
Change Is Opportunity
Adapting to serve a new breed of customer is the only way companies can survive and thrive today. But don’t look at this like a prison sentence—see it as an opportunity to do work more interesting than you ever have before.
When market circumstances shift, the door flies open for smart, hardworking people to shape the way the future looks.
Today, those who implement content operations are doing just that. These marketers have realized that the companies that invest in building the right content for the right customer at the right time will have a huge advantage over those who fail to shift their focus to putting customers first.
We Have the Resources We Need
This shift may feel overwhelming, but we have access to everything required to come out on top.
1. Better Content
Creating content for the informed customer permits us to become industry experts. We don’t just have to understand our product in order to create great material—now we must establish ourselves as thought leaders in our field.
This means we get to dive in, learn up, and create content that really helps people. Leave the selling to the salespeople, and focus on the satisfaction that comes from building content that truly solves a problem for your potential and current customers.
2. Better Tools
We don’t have to dive into this brave new world alone. It’s almost overwhelming just how many tools have sprung up in order to help us plan, create, and distribute the right content to the right people at the right time.
Once you’ve cut through the noise and implemented the tools that can truly empower your team, you’re well equipped to automate the busy work and focus on strategies that will make the difference.
3. Better Channels
Gone are the days when we had to plaster our offerings on billboards, print ads, and direct mail to get people’s attention. Now there are a million avenues online (and in real life) through which we can serve up relevant and interesting content that moves people through the funnel.
4. Better Data
All of these factors are enhanced by better data. Marketing will always involve some guesswork, but as wild conjectures have matured into informed hypotheses, we’re better able than ever to target effectively and track analytics that allow us to constantly tweak, experiment with, and improve our strategies.
The buyer’s journey has changed and it’s never going back. Customers have embraced evolving technology as a way to bolster their control over their own purchasing paths. They’re better informed and have higher expectations about the quality and relevance of the content they consume than those who came before them.
But we shouldn’t be scared. Instead, we should take a lesson from our customers and take the change head-on, using the explosion of new communication channels, better data, and new tools to deliver content above and beyond anything our competitors are offering.
Marketers who see change as an opportunity are the ones who will emerge as the pioneers of the Age of the Customer.
This blog is part one of a five-part series in the Kapost story. Subscribe to the Marketeer to stay updated on the next installment, “How to Create a Cohesive Customer Journey.”