B2B marketing has been changing over the last few years, and if you haven't been paying attention, then you've missed out on one of the most important developments in commerce. These changes are being driven by one important factor: the new face of people who are making the buying decisions.
Out With the Old
Many purchasing decisions are no longer being made by executives who wield unparalleled control over the company. Instead, Millennials are being given the opportunity to find what the company needs, and while their decisions must ultimately be approved by older members of the company, that's quickly becoming more of a formality than anything else.
This means that purchasing decisions are no longer being made by company relationships or a few days down at the golf course - instead, picture a young fellow sitting at a desk beneath a window, writing down the occasional note as they compare a dozen potential suppliers. They're not picking up the phone to answer cold calls - in fact, most marketers don't even know who they are. This is the face of the modern business buyer, and they're one of the reasons that B2B inbound marketing has become so successful.
The Values That Matter Most
Millennials do not like advertising.
This fundamental concept is difficult for many companies to grasp, especially when they're desperately striving for a way to improve their sales and survive during a long economic slump. Television? You're lucky if Millennials are watching shows in a way that airs commercials. Internet ads? Nice try, but there's something called an "Ad Blocker". Direct mail? If it looks like a sales attempt, it's going straight into the shredder.
Inbound marketing is the only form of advertising that they won't immediately reject - after all, it's what appears when they go out to find something. Even then, however, they're going to turn away from you in seconds if they think you're not doing a very good job of helping them solve their problems. Here are the things Millennials care about and how inbound marketing is addressing these concerns.
- The Price of Goods and Services
Millennials prefer low-cost items, often without all the bells and whistles. Don't forget that many of them watched the economy implode just before they gained independence, and many of them are still struggling with doubts about the future.
Inbound marketing is very supportive of a step-by-step sales process, starting with free solutions to a problem they're having and gradually moving up to bigger deals.
- Quick Solutions to Problems
The new buyers for businesses do not want to wait for months in order to get the solution they want. Their preference for immediate solutions carries over into their buying decisions, and they'll often go for something they know works right now over an uncertain opportunity in the future.
Millennials do not want to be sold to, they want to be educated and inbound marketing is educational in nature and allows sellers to focus on the pain points of their buyers, then explain how their product can help solve it. As a bonus, this explanation happens when the buyer is actively looking for a solution, which is the best possible time to make your case.
- Quality and Efficiency
So many groups have marketed themselves to Millennials that the entire generation is used to it - and like each generation before them, they've created filters to block out everything except what matters most. There's a reason that click-through rates on ads have been plummeting.
Inbound marketing allows a company to demonstrate that it's in-touch with its consumers' needs and that the company is taking them seriously... and they know that if you don't step up your game, someone else will.