Gaining deep insights into buyer behavior is a necessity for today's highly competitive seller market. A well-crafted core business proposition can easily place you on your buyers' map.
A Product Marketer's checklist to get started:
- How well do you know your buyers and their journey?
- Is your product messaging directly aligned to the problems your buyers are trying to solve?
- Why are customers buying or not buying or buying only certain products or services?
- How do product marketers gain critical customer insights into buyer behavior and redesign selling strategies to meet new customer expectations?
- What are the buyers using to research their purchase options?
As a product marketer, when working on your product marketing strategy, your buyers are the core influencers driving your positioning and brand message. Buyer insights automatically become a product marketer's invaluable asset. With the right buyer insights, you can ensure the success of your marketing campaigns, impactful sales enablement, and create desirable outcomes toward achieving your business goals.
A good starting point here is to educate the buyer about your product to help drive a purchase decision that is both fast and right. Go more in-depth than just telling people what you do, and shift your messaging to address the buyer's pain points. Tell the customer how he/she will benefit from your product and make sure your messaging directly answers the problems the buyer is trying to solve.
Decoding 'jobs to be performed' - Understanding how people buy products
Realistically speaking, most products or services would be used by 2-3 personas. These generally include the actual buyer who purchases the product, the influencer who drives the ultimate purchase decision, and the end-user who finally uses the product. Each of these personas goes through their own buyer cycle and hence their unique ‘jobs to be done’, and it is essential to map this journey to the product that you are selling.
For example, a Data Science Platform for the retail industry which caters to the Data Science market would have to be appropriately positioned to capture the attention of the Chief Data Scientist who is the primary influencer here. The Data Science platform would also have to be mapped to appeal to the buyer, who could be the Chief Marketing Officer/ Chief Revenue Officer/Chief Digital Officer. And finally, the tool would be used by Marketers, Campaign Managers, Data Scientists and a few business teams who are the end-users or consumers.
As a product marketer, your messaging would need to overlap the problems faced by each of these user groups and explicitly talk about how it would benefit these three personas. Therefore, a sales pitch that superficially explains the benefits of the Data Science platform without addressing the "Why" and "How" - in summary, the benefits to these personas, would not meet the objective.
In the last five years, there has been a radical change in the B2B buyers' journey. Today the marketing function needs to realign targeted product marketing content to this new reality.
The nonlinear reality of the B2B buyer journey
One alternative approach to content marketing and sales support is buyer enablement, which helps guide customers through critical buying tasks. Most marketers single-mindedly focus on quickly moving prospects toward the final sale and ignore the complex, nonlinear reality of B2B buying and the relevant jobs that need to be done. This can overwhelm buyers with information overload and sets up purchase regret. Here are three recommendations for how product marketers can grasp deeper insights about their buyers.
Mapping the buyer's job title
Once you have understood your buyer's journey based on the personas, the next step is to go one level deeper and study the buyer's job title. The objective here is to convey the value that the buyer is going to experience by investing in the product/ service. This helps build a content strategy that maps across these different buyers, influencers, and end-users. The job title can be a critical deciding factor here.
With the complexity of today's new markets driven by diverse buying and purchasing patterns, it becomes imperative to understand the buyer's job titles. Differentiating between job titles can get you closer to your ideal buyer persona. Broadly there are two segments of job titles today:
A mature job title - When you address a mature or well-established buyer job title, you are dealing with a segment that already has an established presence. To target a mature job title buyer segment, it would be a good idea to discuss with people who carry a similar job title or do a similar job within your organization, to understand their pain points. You can also step out of your organization and get a border perspective from companies within your network doing similar business or selling related products or services.
An emerging job title - As markets are opening to hiring people with newer skills, we observe a pattern of unique emerging job titles across business units. For example, a Chief Happiness Officer or a Chief Experience Officer are titles that never existed a few years back. Diverse customer needs give rise to these new job roles to help cater to their own unique needs. To address emerging buyer job titles, it would be good to talk to companies who are hiring for those titles and map the skills and technologies they are looking for.
A more granular analysis of how the role differs in different geographies could also help understand the multi-cultural influence on their characteristics. It is also a great idea to explore tech forums where people with similar skills engage, to help get into the skin of these emerging titles. Having conversations with industry analysts from Gartner, Mckinsey, or even C-level industry experts can additionally give you the necessary insights into how the industry trends are shaping to hire for these new roles.
Interpreting the missing dots - mapping current and future trends
One important tool that most new-age product marketers are increasingly using is Google Trends and Analytics to gain expert insights from hiring trends. As market dynamics change rapidly, it can be challenging to grasp how the buyers' needs are evolving. With a quick mapping using Google Trends by narrowing your search on popular keywords, job skills, geographies, etc. product marketers can quickly arrive on future trends and understand where the market is heading. These can then be worked backward to see how your target persona needs jobs to be done, vis-a-vis the aspirations of nice-to-have things. Finally, you can apply these learnings across the marketing messaging to target the right persona.
Understanding buying behaviors
A simple study of around a thousand qualitative buyer interviews revealed how rapid changes in customer buying behavior are taking place. Product marketers need to know that companies can no longer be satisfied with the fact that they have "understood" what the buyer is looking for. This is a constantly moving target that is dynamic. There is a need for marketers to create a content strategy that has built-in capabilities to make "understanding customer/ buyer behavior" a core competency. Several strategies are being used here, including:
- Immersing yourself in the business of the customer
- Analysing the various paths they take before making a purchase decision
- Observing how they think and view the world
- Understanding the various situations they are confronted with in their day-to-day lives
- How they respond to them, can all influence their buying behavior.
Modern workforce paradigms are opening up new ways of selling. Sellers are deploying innovative techniques to get as close to the buyer and as quickly as possible. Over the last few years, the number of buyers that research before contacting sellers has grown exponentially. Therefore, it becomes vital for product marketers to get into the buyer's skin even before offering a sales pitch.