Archives For buying cell

One of the things I really love to do (apart from this sort of stuff) is say “I told you so”. I know, its petty and vindictive but by god it is satisfying. I don’t get to do that very often, so I’ve lowered the bar to: “See, some smart people have done quite a bit of hard work and they’ve produced some research that confirms a hunch that I’ve kinda had for a year or two.”

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B2B, buying, purchase, decision

Playing for the same team, but not necessarily on the same side.

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I got to say that earlier in the week when this article appeared in Forbes, shining a light on group dynamics in the B2B buying process. We all know that these kind of purchases are collegiate decisions (this is one of the key differences with B2C marketing), and the research was able to put the typical size of what we call the ‘buying cell’ at 5.4 people (based on North American companies). Patrick Spenner, who wrote the article, made the implication pretty clear:

“The punchline is, if your commercial approach

isn’t attuned to group dynamics, you’re in trouble.”

So far, so expected. But the new news here is not that there are several people who need to agree on a single B2B purchase, but that the lack of agreement starts very early in the ‘buyers journey’. By the time the buying is even a third of the way through the process (typically before your marketing has even shown up), they’re arguing. And they’re generally not even arguing about the price, or even which vendor, or even the solution. In a lot of cases, they can’t even agree on the problem.

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B2B, buying group, purchase

Show where the gaps are, and you can help the group structure a more productive argument.

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Yikes!

But also: “Yay!” – that’s pretty fertile territory for creative marketers to be working: defining problems, rallying groups, offering possible approaches to problem-solving. Notice how the product (arguably the least interesting bit of B2B marketing), doesn’t get much of a look-in?

What’s interesting here is how ill-equipped ‘funnel-oriented’ marketing automation tools and technologies are to respond to ‘buying cells’ in general, let alone one that might be in open conflict. The creative opportunities lie instead in the application of a little psychology and also through partnership with publishers.

Group dynamics, illuminated.

We’ve been exploring the idea of approaches that target the ‘buying cell’ in a particular company, where the offer (of distance education or networking or custom site visits) is made on the proviso that the entire cell takes part, as a cohesive unit. We’ve also had great success with publishers who track their users, not at the individual level, but at the company or even department level. When enough people from related roles in a single company start consuming a specific type of content (say, data centre migration), you can safely assume that a major data centre migration project is being kicked around.

The question then is, what can your brand offer that is genuinely useful (no, not another whitepaper) to this group, knowing that they are probably arguing mightily about whether they even need a data centre?

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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Build assets that prompt registrants to refer their colleagues

If your objectives are quantity or quality of attendees, then referrals are a good way to achieve them. And the wonderful thing about digital in general, and social in particular, is that is very social. Even in a B2B setting.

Some creative thinking can generate some new offers and incentives to encourage registrants to bring their colleagues, partners and contacts along to your event. It can be as simple and materialistic as a cup of coffee or bottle of wine (rules and regulations and budgets permitting), or as sophisticated and product-focused as private, tailored demos, or an offer of consulting time.

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b2b, events, digital, referrals, social

Not everyone enters your story through the same door.

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For events that are promoting larger solutions that require multiple decision-makers, think about constructing your incentives so that a registrant is compelled to bring along the other members of the ‘buying cell’ in their company, including perhaps representatives from Finance, Operations and Talent, as well as Technology. It’s far easier to get the buy-in of a group when they are present as an actual group. 

A word of caution: You’ll need to ensure the actual content of your event is also tailored to these particular POVs and that you’ve got experts on hand who can engage these individuals on their own terms and in their area of focus. People often talk of multi-channel marketing as a way to surround a prospective audience, with the message tailored to each channel and context. A similar philosophy is at work with multi-character storytelling: the complete message is woven together by individual storylines that speak to different audiences.

Tech brands are used to telling tech stories to tech audiences, but tech audiences are no longer the single decision-maker. Don’t make the mistake of inviting other members of the C-suite and then continuing to talk only about the technology. If there are there cashflow benefits of your solution, a CFO may be interested. If there are productivity benefits, the Operations people will tune in. If there is a user-experience angle, tell that side of the story to the HR or talent representatives. Once you’ve got these ‘story threads‘ worked out, go back and offer them to your primary audience as lures to get them to bring these other decision-makers along, to hear the side of the story that answers “what’s in it for me?”, for them.

This is the sixth instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #5 How to profile & segment attendees    

> Up next in this series: #7 How to extend the reach of your event  

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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