3 Key Factors B2B Buyers Look For When Choosing Service Providers In 2021
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the traditional B2B buyer journey has changed significantly. As a result, the way B2B service providers market their brands to buyers has changed, and companies that have adapted have gained measurable competitive advantage.
However, when the pandemic ends and the world returns to in-person events and face-to-face sales pitches, B2B buyers are unlikely to immediately revert to pre-pandemic buying habits. Some things may have changed permanently.
With this in mind, it is important that B2B brands understand the “new normal” of post-pandemic marketing. According to Hinge Marketing’s Inside the Buyer’s Brain study, there are three key factors B2B buyers are looking for when choosing service providers today, and companies changing their marketing strategies and investments to prioritize these factors will be in 2021 and beyond generate more sales.
1. Visibility When and where buyers seek help
Coronavirus not only required a short-term change in some preferences for supplier assessment, it also accelerated a long-term change. In particular, B2B buyers have for years ranked recommendations from colleagues and colleagues as the best way to search for work-related topics, find solutions to their problems, and learn about vendors. However, digital methods are taking over.
In 2020, B2B buyers rated “Ask their peers for recommendations” on a 10-point scale at 8.0, followed by “Perform a general web search” at 7.7. “Looking on Social Media” took third place with 6.4. That’s a significant increase from Hinge Marketing’s 2018 study, when social media ranked twelfth. Reading an article or blog post ranked fourth (6.4) in 2020, followed by attending a conference or event (6.2), attending a webinar (6.0), watching a video (6.0), reading a research report, listening to an e-book or guide (6.0) and an expert speaking on a topic (4.8).
The dates are clear. B2B brands need to be visible online when buyers are actively seeking information and help. That doesn’t just mean B2B brands need to advertise their services online. This means brands need to post useful, meaningful, and relevant content that educates audiences and helps buyers get the information they need to believe a brand can be trusted to provide solutions.
It all starts with a corporate blog where your brand can post the type of content your target audience is looking for without openly promoting or selling themselves. Share this content on social media, send it to your email lists via email marketing campaigns, and use it to generate new leads and nurture existing leads as they make their way through the buyer journey.
2. Digital content that establishes a brand and a team as visible experts
The researchers at Hinge Marketing wrote, “Visibility must be a top marketing priority, right behind content development and differentiation. You need to be visible and respected wherever your prospects look. But you don’t have to break the bank. Try to target thought leader content through blogs, articles, webinars, collateral, and email. “This advice is 100% accurate for B2B brands.
Visibility is important to prove that your brand and your team members are subject matter experts. According to Hinge Marketing’s research report, the percentage of B2B buyers who rate “industry knowledge and expertise” as the first way to evaluate service providers has increased by 56% since 2018. 32.2%) for the evaluation of service providers among B2B buyers as “talented employees / team skills” (31.7%), “relevant experience and past performance” (31.2%), “customer service (flexibility, responsiveness , Timeliness) ”(22.2%) and“ ability to deliver results ”(16.5%).
For service providers in the cannabis and hemp industry, the data means that it is imperative that you invest time and money in developing your brand and your team, not only as subject matter experts for the services you provide, but also as industry experts. This is especially important for service providers who mainly operate in other industries and are expanding into the cannabis and / or hemp industries. Make sure your team fully understands the cannabis and / or hemp industry before you start promoting your services!
You can use content to establish your brand and team as visible experts. Publish authoritative blog posts, e-books, research reports, white papers, videos, etc. to prove to B2B buyers that you understand their market, industry, issues, and needs. Without this content, buyers cannot find the trustworthy evidence they need to consider your business when making a selection.
3. Transparency to review expertise, ability to deliver on promises, and cultural fit
Being visible and establishing your brand’s expertise is only part of the equation to consider when evaluating B2B buyers in 2021. Hinge Marketing’s research found that the two main problems B2B buyers face when choosing service providers are providers who promise too much and deliver too little (19.6% (an 80% increase from 2018) and providers who a bad fit or the wrong values (19.2%, an increase of 68% from 2018).
Here, too, content marketing offers the perfect opportunity to prove your brand’s know-how and ability to deliver on its promises and to communicate your corporate culture and values. Write blog posts, social media posts, create videos, and share through digital channels to prove that your brand can be trusted to deliver on its promises.
Consider the following: Price is a smaller part of the supplier evaluation process than over-promising and legacy products, poor fit, or incorrect values, and poor quality results. In fact, price ranks fourth today in terms of B2B buyers concerns when choosing service providers, but it ranks first in 2018.
In other words, as the buyer’s journey has changed in recent years, the way B2B buyers rate service providers has changed too. The award has lost its relevance, while expertise, promise keeping and cultural fit have grown in importance. As a result, the way you market your services and what you tell potential customers must also change.
Key takeaways on what B2B buyers are looking for when choosing service providers in 2021
Digital communication and marketing will dominate in 2021. Buyers are using digital methods more than ever to find and evaluate providers. This trend is unlikely to be reversed. The winning brands of the future will be the ones who tweak their marketing plans to meet buyers where they are (online) as quickly as possible.