Welcome to Part 2 of our blog series on marketing disruptors referenced in the 2017 Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing Report. Today we’re going to focus on the changing human trends and how shifts in buyer preferences and procedures are creating new challenges for marketers.
Buyer behaviors are changing almost as fast as anyone can document them. Keeping up with the trends is more important in marketing than ever before, particularly in an indirect sales organization where keeping partners on the same page is a necessity. Let's examine the biggest human behavior factors disrupting marketing strategies.
1. Authentic Content. Salespeople are no longer the gatekeepers of information about products. Quite the contrary, these days a salesperson may be among the last to know when a particular lead is interested in their product. From YouTube and social networks to review sites, there is a true wealth of product information online for consumers to peruse when making buying decisions. Marketers must address this and ensure there is plenty of content of their own creation available for viewing, and not just on their own home pages.
2. “Can I Talk To A Computer Please?” One growing trend is buyers simply avoiding direct human interaction entirely when it comes to buying products and services – particularly if the products are digital in nature. The possible reasons for this are many, but marketers and sales personnel will need to accept that a chunk of their buyers simply don’t want to talk to them and may even preferentially choose brands which allow for such antisocial buying.
This is one area where advances in AI could be a big help – smarter chatbots may be able to bridge the gap to socially-adverse buyers.
3. Decision-Making Decentralization. Hubspot respondents agreed that decision-making in B2B is becoming more decentralized, with more participants contributing ideas or having veto power. This is no surprise, as many purchasing decisions can have systemic effects, and all affected departments want a say.
From a marketing\sales perspective, it emphasizes the need for a wide variety of promotional materials targeted at a wide range of buyer types. Even if you’re pitching networking software, for example, merely targeting IT isn’t sufficient. You may also need to prepare documents emphasizing the TCO/ROI value for CFOs or big-picture strategic integration options for CEOs.
4. Extreme Media Diversification. Once upon a time, there were three or four major TV networks which could be assured to have millions of viewers every night. Those days are now long gone. Media consumption is now completely fragmented. On a given evening, buyers might be watching TV, YouTube, Netflix, or doing social media, or playing online video games, etc.
Deeper buyer demographic analysis is an absolute must to understand which media outlets they prefer. Targeted marketing now requires going to your buyers, in whatever activities they engage in. The better you understand their lifestyles, the more chance you have of reaching them.
So, what hasn't changed? The one thing that hasn’t changed is the power of word-of-mouth and social referrals. Those remain, as they’ve always been, the most powerful drivers of sales decisions. Whatever marketing tactics you embrace, whatever media outlets you pick as being likely sources of new leads, you still need to put a high focus on customer satisfaction while encouraging buyer advocacy. A single Facebook or LinkedIn post to friends asking for recommendations could still be more influential than millions of dollars in advertising.
There you have it – the biggest disruptors in marketing for 2017. In our next blog -the last in our coverage of the Hubspot report- we’ll take a look at the bigger picture and some of the key takeaways for inbound marketing overall. See you then!