For years, prospects and customers have been self-educating, conducting research on their own without contacting a sales rep to learn about a product or service they are interested in buying. Marketers have risen to the occasion by creating more content designed to positively influence the purchase decision. In fact, CEB found that 84% of CMOs expect to spend more on content in the next year. But another research finding from MarketingProf’s and Content Marketing Institute cites that just 22% of marketers believe their content strategy to be successful and only 50% use sales to measure the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.
It’s not surprising that marketers find it difficult to track the effectiveness of their content. The number of people involved in a B2B purchase decision increased from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today (CEB). The buying committee, this group of 6.8 people, now involves a greater variety of roles, functions, and geographies. This additional complexity makes it challenging for marketers to target purchase decision-makers and more delicate for sales reps to build consensus and close deals.
Now more than ever, we need to understand the role buying committees and content marketing play in advancing the purchase decision and supporting sales efforts.
Buying Committee Persona
Before you can dig into the individual buyers and their needs’ and pains’, you must understand the members of the buying committee. Like individuals, buying committees have their own personality, role, and operating procedures. Some are quite formal, while others may operate very loosely. Begin by describing the ecosystem of the organization as it relates to your product or service. Then, identify the different individual buyers’ roles you’re more accustomed to.
Buying Committee Flow Chart
Next consider the dynamics of the buying committee:
Draw a map of a typical buying committee. Start by categorizing each individual role and title into decision maker, project lead, user, internal influencer and external influencer. Once the roles are mapped, show how the communication flows. This distinction is key to the next step of journey mapping. It helps to demonstrate how content should relate to each persona and how it impacts progression through the buyers’ journey.
Buying Committee Journey Map
Once you have a good picture of the buying committee and the dynamics within the committee, it’s time to map the reactions at each stage of the buying journey. The buyers’ journey map showcases how each piece of content can be used to build decision momentum.
For instance, content that targets individual users should frame the problem so their managers and the project lead immediately comprehend the benefits of change at an early buying stage. Whereas, the content served to executive members later in the buying cycle may include data sheets comparing the costs of change verses the opportunity costs of doing nothing.
Used together, these three tools to understanding the buying committee will help to define a more effective content strategy – one that can truly drive sales. No matter what, each piece of content should be developed with a specific target and a specific purpose in mind.
Want to learn more about how to implement a fool-proof content strategy designed for buying committees? Join Matt Heinz and Robert Pease for an interactive online workshop ABM: From Strategy to Action and Results to learn the strategies, pitfalls and best practices that make a successful ABM program.