On February 21, Forbes published “How B2B Buying Decisions Really Get Made in the Digital Age,” by author, keynote speaker, and marketing expert Shama Hyder. In the article, Hyder talks about a trend she saw emerge over the past year. At the business-to-business enterprise sales level, people outside the CIO or IT departments had begun playing a role in making internal technology purchase decisions (both hardware and software).
“As internal communication and tasks grow to depend more on digital platforms, personnel in new positions are now poised to make and influence purchasing decisions than ever before.”
— Shama Hyder, CEO, The Zen Marketing Group
Hyder noticed that companies were spending their advertising budgets differently, too. “Mobile ad targeting and delivery is becoming more popular than print ad targeting for example. And monthly fees for a service are appearing more attractive than outright purchases of software licenses,” she says.
What’s responsible for these shifts? Hyder points to the results from a recent LinkedIn survey of 5,470 global professionals who played some role in making purchasing decisions at their companies. LinkedIn’s researchers separated respondents into age-related demographic categories: younger millennials (19–25), older millennials (25–35), and Gen Xers (36–50). The survey revealed insights about how all three groups respond to communications, including gated content, blog articles, and white papers:
- All age groups avoid filling out forms to access content, and most prefer blog content over white papers
- Millennials prefer content to be personalized
- When being contacted regarding sales, all groups value having some connections in common
- A key difference between young millennials and the other groups: 64% use social media to research products (vs. 59% of older millennials and 56% of GenXers)
LinkedIn’s survey concluded that millennials are nearly as likely as other groups to weigh in on purchasing decisions; as such, they should be included in B2B marketing communications.
In addition, the survey suggested that targeting B2B communications at job titles may not work as well as it did in the past. “More than 50% of tech buying committees consist of at least four people, and these four people are often wearing multiple hats,” says Hyder.
Decision-makers may be a diverse group of people from different departments and with different expertise. Communications should therefore focus on a product’s intuitive, user-friendly qualities and “cultural fit.”
Lastly, in order to build longer-term, repeat business relationships with clients, tech products should include maintenance and follow-up. A service-oriented model, rather than a static package, helps tech companies respond to constant changes in their customers’ organizational structures—and in the economy at large.
To read the article in full, click here.
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