A couple of coins to drop on top of last week’s 2¢, change is maybe the bigger challenge for B2B buyers, so, what do we do?
This week’s thought is a bit of a continuation of last week’s 2¢, where I shared some ideas about who you might be competing with in B2B sales and marketing. It may not be the traditional vendors that appear in your category.
In summary, the prospective customer may see the problem differently, and your enemy could be something left field outside your category, the example I used was the competitor to the car hire company I was regularly hiring cars from, was not other hire car companies, it was me buying a car.
And, I dipped into a bit of Theodore Levitt with the example from Marketing Myopia of the US railways who competed with each other, while the automobile and highways took their business, as they failed to spot that their competitive battleground was not other railways, but they were in the transportation business – or to use the parlance of B2B – transportation category.
It could be “do nothing”.
Which, in B2B sales, is WAY scarier. You can have all the battle cards in the world, all the silver bullets, but “do nothing”, that’s a tough competitor. Plus, it hangs like a spectre across the whole sale process, you may identify the need, beat the competition, be in the final 3, final one….. and yet, they do nothing.
Which led me to this week’s thought – all that category stuff aside – the enemy is change.
Well, not quite, ” the enemy is change” makes a better title. It’s the fear and the potential friction (which is shorthand for more work, personal risk and discomfort) that the change resulting in a decision to buy your product might bring.
Put another way, peddlers of B2B software and technology are selling pain.
But, when we do our marketing planning, do we think about that?
We kinda assume our product is a white knight riding in to save the day, a story arc that reads like a typical case study:
Customer was in pain, caused by the existing solution or lack thereof and then The Solution arrived and immediately there was sunshine and rainbows.
The truth of course, is that for anything to be better, it requires change, and our real customer hero story has them defeating some scary change on the way from pain to rainbows. But, in our marketing, who wants to talk about the pain of change?
Yet, as a prospective customer gets deeper into the process of solving its problem (and buying your product), they discover that this change may create some pain. Or maybe some old sage, consultant or analyst on the buying committee nods (sagely, of course) and says, “that’s gonna hurt”.
So, as marketers, that’s our problem and the pain of change is not something we can ignore, we need to think about it when we are doing our marketing strategy and planning.
My thought on this, and the point of this post – is that change should be part of our persona development.
Is there something this persona will need to change?
How will this change affect them?
How might they feel about that?
How can we help them with this change?
How can we help them sell the change internally? (Especially if they are a sponsor)
Of course, when developing personas, especially taking a needs-based approach we tend to focus on the positive changes, the benefits and how we can help them with their needs.
But, they also have a need to bring change to their job or organisation.
How can our content help them with that?
And to mangle the quote:
The enemy of my friend is my enemy, and that’s change.
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I’m a 3xCMO, now a marketing strategy advisor and podcast host at Rockstar CMO. Although, I’m not a rock star, but a marketing leader, strategist, content marketer, columnist, speaker, industry watcher, and creator of ART (Awareness, Revenue, and Trust) for the companies I work with. But most of all, I am an enthusiastic tea drinker.
The half-baked thoughts shared on this blog may not reflect those of my employer or clients, and if the topic of this article is interesting or you just want to say hello please get in touch.