By Tyler Lessard
“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Once upon a time, buyers consumed traditional ads across television, radio, magazines and mailers to learn about products and services. They most likely contacted a small number of vendors with whom they were familiar early on in their discovery process to learn about capabilities and pricing. Sales reps hopped on the phone or were invited onsite for a live demonstration. There may have even been a golf game in the mix.
Fast forward to today and buying behaviours have changed so dramatically across both B2B and B2C markets that businesses are being forced not only to evolve their approach to marketing and sales, but to fundamentally reinvent how they connect, educate, influence and earn trust in a digital-first world.
Today’s buyers have immediate access to an infinite pool of online content, connections, reviews and followers, and are much less inclined to follow the buyer’s journey of yore.
In fact, Sirius Decisions and Forrester Research have both reported in recent years that more than 80% of the buyer’s journey now happens online in a self-service fashion. And that was before the “great virtualization” of 2020.
So, what does this mean for today’s marketer and sellers? A heck of a lot.
Now your marketing team is not only responsible for brand awareness and lead generation, but also for educating audiences through the buying process, maximizing online engagement, building memorable relationships and doing it all at scale through online digital content.
Marketing has become the sales rep that never sleeps, and every marketer needs to think more like a seller as they become responsible for an expanding part of the buyer’s journey.
On the flip side, sales teams are being pulled out of their comfort zone. They can no longer rely on “one great meeting” or an onsite visit to progress and close a deal. And as buyers evolve to prefer more asynchronous communications and on-demand learning, so too must sellers.
Here are a few of the key trends that will impact how successful businesses are at transforming their go-to-market strategies.
Outbound to inbound
Marketing teams continue to shift their focus from outbound paid sponsorships and advertisements to inbound content marketing, search engine marketing and community building. As part of this, the role of advertising is changing to become an integrated touchpoint among all of these brand-building and demand generation tactics.
Expand and diversify
The digital channels that are being used to reach prospects are mushrooming as marketers embrace search engine marketing, website optimization, email, social media, webinars, blogs, YouTube, Instagram, review sites, chatbots – you name it. The marketing and sales universe is quickly expanding.
As the demand for self-service content and information rises, marketers have a greater responsibility for generating results throughout the entire customer lifecycle, from lead generation and deal acceleration to post-sale customer marketing. Increasingly, it’s about having a full-funnel marketing mentality.
Offline goes online
Businesses are starting to think online-first across marketing, sales and customer service, a trend that has only accelerated in 2020,
Virtual events, virtual meetings and online digital experiences are now the preferred, and often only, way to deliver programs. Both live and on-demand video is now a key component of relationship-building.
A digital-first approach
Most businesses aren’t thinking about how to transform in this new world. They are reacting, not reinventing. Many still believe that digital-first selling and marketing means more Zoom calls, more emails and hosting virtual events. But that can’t be further from the truth. Instead of doing more, do better. Be different.
Use digital channels in entirely new ways, not to simply distribute information and build awareness, but to build meaningful relationships and create experiences that modern buyers expect.
Develop better self-service, friction-free online learning. Deliver more engaging and human content that helps you earn trust from a distance. Master the art of online networking, community building and communication. Embrace asynchronous video as a way to engage in this new world.
Put quite simply, start marketing and selling the way people actually want to learn and buy in a digital-first world.