Thursday, May 7, 2009

Detecting Buyer Roles in B2B Marketing

Understanding what role a buyer plays in the buying group is critical in effective B2B marketing. With a good understanding of what role each person plays, we are better able to cater our messaging, and our nurture marketing.

Each buying process is unique, and much as we can map the stages of the buying process for our products or services, we can also map the key roles in the buying process. These roles are likely to be very similar to the roles that your sales team has mapped out, just that they may be earlier in their investigation than when sales typically engages.

For each potential role in the buying group, we can define what the typical digital body language of a person in that role might look like. The specifics of this will of course depend on your buyers and what you have available on your web properties.

A generic set of buying roles might look like:

Economic Buyer/Decision Maker: This person is the gatekeeper to the budget and evaluates projects from an ROI perspective. Look at digital body language for viewing or searching for ROI focused case studies and calculators, vendor viability information such as investors or management team, and risk mitigation factors such as warranties.

Technical Evaluator: This buyer brings specific technical expertise to the buying situation, and evaluates projects on their technical merits and viability. Look for digital body language that indicates deeply technical investigation; product specifications, precise searches for highly technical information on your solutions, and activity on technical discussions and blogs.

User Buyer: The user buyer represents the users of your product or service. They are looking to understand its effect on their day to day lives, and as such may be seen looking at trials, demos, user documentation, or support sites in order to understand how they will operationally use the products.

Influencer/Coach: As a participant who is somwhat involved in the buying process, and/or highly supportive of your efforts, look for activities that suggest internal promotion of your ideas, such as frequent forwarding of content internally, referring of key internal stakeholders to your material, and searching for material that would bolster internal support for your offering.

Much as we looked a mapping web assets to stages of the buying process, we can look at mapping assets to roles in the buying process, and by doing so, gain a better understanding of what role each buyer plays in the buying process. With this, we can make our marketing efforts much more precisely targeted and effective.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
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