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B2B: Too much emphasis on the deal, not enough on relationships




DatingGameB2B is a lot like dating. You find someone with similar interests, ask them to join you for coffee. You talk about yourself and you ask questions about them. You find out their desires and life goals and if all goes well you see each other again. And then the deal making process starts. I’ll cook you dinner if you take me to the movies. I’ll go to your cousin’s wedding if you go to Comic-con with me.

Forrester Research says that many B2B marketers need to brush up on their courting skills if they want to enter into a long-term relationship.

Business Marketing Association Chair Steve Liguori says,

“The majority of marketers find producing content that engages buyers to be a major challenge. And that’s for good reason. Our survey results show that the majority of B2B content practices focus too narrowly on early-stage buyer acquisition — which fails to engage buyers throughout their lifetime. To create content that attracts and builds customer relationships throughout the customer life cycle, B2B marketers must make a fundamental shift from writing about features and benefits to delivering valuable information that drives business results.”

This all goes back to the piece I wrote yesterday about the Adaptly study on Facebook ads. The study found that a series of storytelling (aka content-driven) ads performed much better than a series of explicit call-to-action ads. Customers want to be wooed. They want to feel as if they’ve come to this decision on the own. Your job is laying it all out so it’s hard to resist.

How we doing so far? Only 14% of the marketers who responded to the “Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity” survey gave their content practices high marks for delivering value back to the business. Wow. If that’s true, that’s a lot of wasted effort and money.

The report continues with these sad facts:

B2B content. . .

  • Fails to highlight how products and services help customers become successful. While 71% of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories, only 3% admit this is a primary focus of their efforts.
  • Lacks forward-leaning insights that buyers can turn into action. Only 12% of respondents make publishing research and perspectives the main focus of their content marketing, and no one said they engage external experts to validate those ideas.
  • Focuses on closing the deal, not on building relationships. While more than three-quarters of respondents say they frequently communicate to their customer base, only 5% make this a priority, proving that marketers are too focused on acquisition rather than long-term loyalty.

That last one pretty much says it all. Everyone’s looking for the one-night-stand, the quick sale, then its off to find another conquest. But when you add up the dollars spent trying to find new customers versus the potential profits of properly wooing a current client you can see where it’s all going wrong.

Happy, current clients, spend more, are more easily persuaded to buy upgrades and – best of all – are highly likely to recommend you to their contacts. So in a way, the time you spend keeping your current clients happy should actually result in new clients after all.