Just make sure nothing you say, on social media or elsewhere, sounds like marketing. “Customers have, over time, become a lot more tech savvy,” says Jessica Mehring, CEO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based marketing firm Horizon Peak Consulting. “They’re much smarter about filtering out the noise, and from a practical standpoint literally filtering out ads, and emails, and things that don’t apply to them.”
IT providers must therefore emphasize the business pains and aspirations of their would-be clients in marketing rather than their own capabilities and offerings, she continues. “That involves actually talking to your customers and finding out what it is they care about, what’s keeping them up at night, what problems they’re having, and then focusing your content around that. That’s going to get through a lot of filters.”
A Never-Ending Journey
As critical as impersonal tools like websites and search engines are in the early part of the buyer’s journey, everything changes when marketing gives way to sales. With chatbots and automated emails becoming the norm, businesses ready to start speaking with IT partners increasingly crave a more human touch.
“B2B buyers have gotten wise to a lot of the automation tactics, and not just the automation elements but also the robotic voice that can go along with it a lot of the time,” Mehring says. Channel pros with a little gray in their hair often enjoy a distinct competitive advantage as a result, she adds. “Folks that kind of come into this from that old-school way of marketing and selling, which is more relationship based, are in a better position to overcome this, because they’re used to having those one-on-one conversations.”
Attentiveness remains essential after the sale too. Customers today expect white-glove service during the onboarding process, white-glove support after that, and an ongoing dialogue with their IT provider indefinitely.
“There really is no end of the buyer’s journey,” Mehring observes. “If you’re not constantly reengaging with those customers and asking them what their problems are, what solutions they’re seeking, and having those conversations, what you know about your customers is going to be wrong at some point.”