The VAR Guy Blog

The Need for Digital Marketing in the B-to-B Buying Landscape

Buyers in the Internet age are far more educated than ever before, and as a result, are now in the power position as navigators of the sales cycle. The need for an early digital relationship has never been higher.

A few weeks back, I was fortunate to sit in on a presentation given by Maria Chien, research director at SiriusDecisions, who discussed the major shifts that are happening in the industry when it comes to B-to-B buying and selling. “Currently, 58 percent of all leads come from the web, and that number is expected to increase to 71 percent by 2015,” she noted in her presentation. Only a few years back, the typical sales cycle started with the seller in the driver seat, and continued down a road in which the buying and sales cycles were directly aligned.

Today, more prospect interaction is occurring online, which is shortening the actual time for sales engagement. Buyers in the Internet age are far more educated than ever before, and as a result, are now in the power position as navigators of the sales cycle. Most buyers also favor digital interactions over in-person meetings, so by the time a sales representative engages with the buyer, a digital dialogue has already begun and opinions have been formed. The need for an early digital relationship has never been higher.

Interestingly enough, few marketers receive formal marketing training relevant to today’s dramatically changing industry. According to the presentation, more than 75 percent of polled clients claimed to have honed their marketing skills on the premise of trial and error. So what do these shifts in the buyer/seller relationship mean to channel marketers? It should mean they put the majority of their focus on inbound marketing and react to these B-B changes by leveraging the role of the web.

Reacting and Taking Advantage of These Changes
So how do you begin? First, it's important to understand as much as possible about your buyers and their purchase process to market your solutions most effectively. Typical customers start their purchase process by going to their search engine of choice; thus, understanding the search terms your customers are using is critical to ensure your company shows up. This relates directly to SEO and how well your website is working for you.

Customers then work to become informed by spending time on the software vendor and relevant third-party websites to become educated and form an opinion. From there, customers often talk with their peers or engage in social channels to learn from “people like themselves,” to make their decision.

With all of this in mind, you want to ensure your digital presence reflects well and is aligned with your company’s brand, your content is current and dynamic your calls to action are compelling and you are investing in SEO to ensure you are getting the most qualified customers to your site. With those three steps in mind, how effectively does your company show up digitally? It is imperative you have this insight to respond accordingly and potentially invest to build your digital muscles.

Second, it is important to generate content that points your customers to valuable information or a great resource. Think about what your customers are reading or where they are going to get information, and try to offer them key pointers that could help them with their business. Introducing the “voice of the customer” is always compelling, whether promoting through case studies, videos, blog posts or webcasts. Videos and webcasts provide the customer a platform to talk about their pain points and how their partner’s solution helped to solve the challenge at hand. Generating this kind of sought-after content will enable you and your company to be seen as an expert in the industry, thus ensuring the highest level of marketing effectiveness. 

It’s All About Execution
Once you have these assets complete, it’s now time to take them to market. The recommended best practice is to do this by sprinkling your content over influencer blogs, partner blogs, social media, analyst blogs, association sites, content curators, YouTube and Wikis, to name a few. Combining marketing activities is more important than any one tactic, so be sure to tell a connected story that ultimately drives customers back to your website.

Now that you better understand the B-to-B buying landscape, and how to gain optimal visibility on the web, it is now time to apply these changes. 

Your marketing efforts today matter more than ever before as the purchasing pendulum continues to swing. Given our collective increased dependency on digital marketing, there is a great opportunity to improve a prospective buyer’s experience on your website and ensure they are getting the information they need. In return, you are securing the most qualified leads to your site. As noted above, this is also the time to look at increasing your presence across digital mediums to ensure you have exposure where your prospective customers are looking for information. This also includes your social presence, such as educating your sales reps on maintaining a professional LinkedIn profile.

Developing a strong digital strategy is a critical part of any marketer’s arsenal. Customers will be able to find you in their searches and use your content and resources to help guide their choices. It will also help position your company as a trusted thought leader in the industry by providing customers with solutions that address their pain points, and ultimately drive traffic to your website. By developing an effective digital marketing strategy you can play a leadership role helping to drive sales, tap into new customers and increase your company’s online presence.

Chandra DuFrene is director of Global Partner Marketing at VMware. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.

Discuss this Blog Entry 0

Post new comment
or register to use your The VAR Guy ID
Hybrid Cloud InfoCenter

Sponsored by VMware
VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, enables businesses to thrive in the cloud era by transforming the way they build, deliver and consume information technology resources. Leveraging VMware vSphere®, the most widely deployed foundation for cloud computing, VMware enables enterprises to adopt a cloud model that addresses their unique business challenges.
Hybrid Cloud Information
  • Six Habits Infographic - This visual infographic outlines key questions for partners building a cloud practice, as well as six crucial action items of successful cloud service providers and partners.
  • Whitepaper:  WMware vCloud Air Network - As enterprises continue to move their data and apps to the cloud, they’re faced with more options than ever. Businesses need security, compliance, performance, availability, flexibility, extensibility, global access and more. Download and learn what it takes to join VMware vCloud Air Network: a global ecosystem of service providers that are uniquely positioned to supply modern enterprises with the ideal solutions.
  • Whitepaper: The Road to Hybrid Cloud Signposts - Enterprise IT is going through an extended transformation period, with increasingly complex virtualized and hybrid cloud infrastructures being used to support the needs of line-of-business users. This new guide explores the accelerating trend in the way “hybrid” customers and all-important “hybrid” IT partners are collaborating to take advantage of rich, new vendor offerings.
  • Whitepaper: The Road to Hybrid Cloud Partner Lessons - Most people can quote Darwin’s theory that survival is not dependent on strength or intelligence, but on response to change. This concept has recently been updated to fit the modern business world — and this guide explores how to apply it to hybrid cloud solutions for today’s Channel partners.
  • Video: VMware Horizon Air Desktops and Apps Overview -  Watch this short video introducing desktops as a service (DaaS), and the VMware Horizon Air product.
  • Case Study: Phoenix Nap (partner) with Sure Tax (their customer) - Learn how SureTax used cutting edge private cloud and virtualized solutions to meet the privacy, performance, and high availability needs of its growing client base while realizing a rapid return on investment.
  • Capturing the Cloud Managed Services Market - Download this whitepaper to get a blueprint on the recommended steps and considerations for incorporating a recurring revenue business model based on managed and cloud-based services.
  • VMware Partner Network Brochure – Download this document to see all of the benefits the VMware Partner Network has to offer and how you can expand your market opportunities through the partnership.
  • Ten Reasons to Partner with VMware - Learn more about the benefits of this award winning program.
  • Your Cloud. Accelerate IT and Business with VMware - Learn how VMware ensures security and control, preserves existing investments, and avoids vendor lock-in. VMware, the trusted virtualization leader, is uniquely positioned to enable your transition to the cloud.
  • Partner Competency Recommendation Tool - VMware Solution Competencies differentiate your business as a virtualization and cloud computing expert and lead to increased revenue. The Partner Competency Recommendation Tool will assist you in identifying the competencies that are a best fit for your company.
  • Video - Actel Story: No matter what path you plan on taking with virtualization or goals you have for your datacenter, chances are that as technology and customer demands evolve, so will your Journey to Your Cloud. Learn why VMware competent Partners have the expertise to meet customer’s needs.
  • VMware Partner Network – Consulting and Integration Partner Program - Learn more about the Consulting and Integration Partner Program and about the expanding focus and investment in expanding richer CIP partnerships across the VMware Partner Network.


Sponsor's Tweets
VMWare Video
VMware Software Defined Datacenter: Frank Rauch

What is VMware's Software-Defined Datacenter strategy for partners and where does vCloud Suite fit into the conversation?

News and Insights
News and Insights from Talkin’ Cloud

Talkin’ Cloud covers cloud services providers (CSPs), cloud integrators and channel strategies for public and private cloud initiatives. It is the first blog dedicated to cloud computing in the IT channel.

News and Insights from MSPmentor

MSPmentor is the ultimate guide to managed services. It helps aspiring MSPs march toward monthly recurring revenues (MRR), and it offers established MSPs the latest trends and business models to fine-tune their performance.

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×