Content marketing is a great tool for reaching your prospects at every stage of the buying cycle — it’s a benefit we’ve revisited time and again.
This week, let’s take a closer look at that B2B industrial buying cycle — and the marketing tools that are best suited to making an impression at each step of the way.
Education: Buyers and engineers have an ever-changing job — so they’re constantly seeking new information, whether it’s solving a problem they haven’t seen before, staying on the cutting edge of innovations in the industry, or understanding market trends for their products.
Impact Education: Become an information source. Sharing interesting articles and news via social media, spreading the word about your own updates and trends in places like ThomasNet News, and showcasing your expertise through blogs and white papers can all make you a trusted source of knowledge – and bring you to mind when a buyer moves through the next stages.
Search: Once a buyer actually identifies a need, they move on to a top-level search, vetting a broad swath of potential suppliers to first make sure that they can do what the buyer needs them to do.
Impact Search: Leverage your content, capabilities, and product/service offerings to rank highly wherever your prospects search. A robust website, a regularly updated blog, and a strong social media presence can give you an organic SEO boost, while a high rank on a platform like ThomasNet.com makes you more visible to the qualified buyers sourcing there.
Evaluate: Here, a buyer gets more granular in comparing suppliers, with the goal of establishing a shortlist.
Impact Evaluation: Detailed product and service information is key — buyers today do a great deal of research before contacting you, so you need to proactively answer as many questions as possible. Your branding and marketing efforts will also come into play here — the intangible benefits of establishing familiarity and utility to potential buyers at the Education stage become concrete when they provide a leg up during supplier evaluation.
Shortlist: Weighing the factors that matter to them against each other, the buyer will establish a shortlist of suppliers to submit RFIs to. Price matters, but it’s not the only — or even the most important — factor. Potential for a long-term partnership, reputation/security, and innovation/industry leadership all come into play as well.
Impact the Shortlist: Address those other critical factors besides price. Tell your story, showcase your past work, highlight your problem-solving expertise, and illustrate thought leadership in your space. Content on your website, blog, Thomas Network company listing, and social media will all support your reputation and share the information that buyers want.
RFI: The final step – and often the first time a buyer will actually contact you, after conducting all their research.
Impact the RFI: Make your contact information highly visible and available whenever a buyer is researching you: your website, your company listing, product and service information pages, and so on.