Last week, we took a bird’s-eye view of the entire B2B buying cycle, and how you can impact each stage of it. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to zoom in on each step of the way to a sale, and take a closer look at the strategies that can work best for you in reaching buyers.
Let’s start right at the top of the funnel — or even above it — with the broadest, and potentially longest-lasting stage — Education. Depending on the specific industry you’re in, some of your prospects might linger in this phase for months or years. But just think about the benefits of establishing yourself as a valued and trusted source of content and information before they identify a purchasing need.
A hypothetical equivalent in the consumer space would be Ford or GM publishing a blog with car repair tips, objective industry updates and news, and reports on innovations coming down the pike. You probably only buy a new car every ten years or so, but that would be a resource you’d turn to again and again in between. And when it does come back to purchase time, well, who are you going to think of first? (Note to car manufacturers: You’re welcome).
Blog: Want to get potential buyers reading between buying cycles? Don’t try to pitch to them, but address the pain points they face in their day-to-day jobs. Troubleshooting, efficiency improvements, common problems, and so on. New trends and innovations are always popular topics, and the place of your industry in the larger economic landscape is also an ever-changing subject of interest. Take a look at this post for even more inspiration.
White papers: Much more in-depth than a blog, but also potentially much more valuable to your prospects — and eventually, to you. Two key factors to consider in writing a white paper: 1) Be unique. Make sure that you’re adding something to the conversation (or even better, starting a completely new one). 2) Be an expert. Choose a topic that you know inside and out — you’ll have plenty of material to draw upon to educate readers and differentiate yourself.
News releases: Savvy buyers need to always be aware of what’s going on in their industry, and so they’re always turning to news sources to stay up-to-date. By including your product news and company updates on sources, you’re getting the eyeballs of the quality prospects you want — and helping yourself be top-of-mind at purchase time.
Social media: Whether for news or for a little bit of downtime, more and more buyers use social media regularly — especially as a younger crop of engineers trickles in. Again, it’s not the place for sales pitches — it’s the place to forge an association and a future relationship by establishing your value as an information source.
Stay tuned next week as we move to Step 2 of the buying cycle: need identification, and the search process.
Do you reach out to your prospects even when they're not actively looking to buy? What are some other strategies that you find useful?
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