As a B2B marketing agency, you spend your time marketing products or services to other businesses on behalf of your clients. And there’s a notion that, when you’re selling to other businesses, there’s never just one buyer who makes the decision on their own — there are various influencers around them.
For example, the CTO of a company could be the buyer of the goods in question, and her influencers would be the CEO, CFO, CMO and HR director. You usually reach these influencers by exposing them to communication that will help them make buying decisions. But, the truth is, that’s not enough.
Because these influencers also need a tactile and tangible experience with the brand that’s selling to them in order to create trust. That’s not always possible, given the budget of a brand but, generically, I believe that client mapping is fundamental in order to do this.
If you’re selling into another company, you first need to map the organogram of that organisation. Then you have to create the buyer journey, thinking about what steps the company would need to go through to make the final buying decision.
Then you have to overlay that purchase journey on the organogram, so that you can see whom to interact with at which stages. For example, in the ‘interest’ phase of the buying journey, the type of information you would expose the influencers to is designed so that the influencer goes to the buyer and says, “Have you thought about this particular issue or option?” This triggers the buyer to think about a potential solution to that problem.
Let’s say our client is an ICT company, and that it has a cloud-based solution that it wants to sell to another company that has a few thousand employees. The buyer in question would then pay on a monthly basis, per employee, in order for employees to have access to the cloud solution.
The decision on which ICT company the CTO chooses rests with her. But employees are also influencers — and it’s important to remember that. Therefore, you should start by mapping out the organisation and then ask: what is the typical purchase journey that the buyer (CTO) goes through? They might read an article about how a competitor is reducing costs because of very tangible benefits, such as a cloud solution, and this could be a trigger.
The triggers kick off the purchase journey. Once the CTO is triggered, what does the purchase journey look like? It could begin with a research phase, heading on to evaluation, pricing and, eventually, buying. The influencers would have different impacts at these different phases. These employees may not have a say at the pricing phase, for example, but they would have lots of influence in the research phase.
As a marketer, it’s only once you understand who these influencers are, and what their roles are per phase, that you may then create the best content to help the influencer influence the buyer at each given phase. You couldn’t, for example, send emails to thousands of employees as you don’t know their email addresses nor do you have permission. But perhaps they work onsite in a factory? You could then put billboards outside the factory tailored specifically to those employees.
Here’s the high-level process you should follow when client mapping:
This whole process could take 24–36 months so it’s not a ‘quick fix’. The purchase journey in B2B marketing campaigns is much longer than the typical B2C purchase journey, and it takes research and expertise to execute on this.