Rethinking B2B Marketing In The Customer’s Context (Report)

Posted on July 1, 2014

Markting Report Forrester

Is Your Marketing Strategy Aligned To The Customer Life Cycle?

If you are a CMO at a B2B company you better be asking that question. The good news if you are a midsized company, you have an advantage over your bigger marketing war chest brothers and sisters at enterprise companies. A CMO at a midsized company can effective a course correction, but large companies trundle along under the weight of their inertia.

Where should you start? Have you asked yourself, How are we adapting to our customers’ changing behavior? Sheryl Pattek, along with David M. Cooperstein and Alexandra Hayes asked about that in their Forrester report on the dramatically changing behaviors of B2B buyers. (A subscription is required to access the full report.) But don’t worry. I am going to give you a peek behind the curtains. Follow me…

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Forrester Fires A Shot Across The Bows Of B2B Marketers

In the Forrester report they note: Business-to-business (B2B) marketers must face a new reality: Customers seek a range of inputs as they embark on solving business needs.

Some executives prefer vendors that can create and deliver on a vision, and they want to educate themselves through professional and peer-created content that is available online. Other buyers are comfortable doing research on their own before contacting sales.

Customers’ control over their decision-making forces B2B marketers to put the customer life cycle at the center of their marketing efforts, capturing customers before and after they seek out help for an issue they face.

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Caution. Detour Ahead.

In The B2B Buyer’s Journey Grows Up; It’s Time For Your Approach To Grow Up Too Ms. Pattek shares a few hard, but ultimately liberating, truths that CMOs must embrace to thrive.

  • Put the customer at the center of marketing thinking. Today’s market realities demand that B2B CMOs replace internal sales-driven marketing funnels with a full customer-life-cycle approach that aligns with the ways customers now make purchase decisions and build relationships with their vendors.

  • Map the B2B customer life cycle to define your marketing strategy. As the customer buying journey progresses from discovery to exploring options, your marketing efforts must help customers navigate to their final purchase destination with relevant content targeted to the questions they are looking to answer at each stage.

  • The map of your customer’s life cycle must support initial decision-making as well as the ongoing engagement process.

  • Adapt to changes in B2B customers’ behavior. In what Forrester defines as The Age of the Customer, two elements are essential to success: a customer-obsessed approach to defining the business and marketing strategy and an in-depth understanding of customers’ behaviors and needs.

  • The onus is on B2B CMOs to integrate intimate knowledge of customers into marketing activities that serve the varied needs of these customers as they move through the decision process.

  • The initial trigger by a potential customer serves as a flashpoint that should kick off a series of marketing and sales activities that focus on driving specific and observable buyer outcomes.

Before you address the above points, go talk to customer service. Ask lots of questions. Take a different sales rep out for lunch every week, ask what they are working on, shut up, eat your sandwich, and listen. If you are not  going along on 20 Sale’s Ride-Alongs a year, you need to put that on your calender and start.

Additionally, I encourage you to subscribe (free) to and read Sherly’s blog, and to follow her on Twitter. I do both!

About The Author
Steve Farnsworth is a Demand Generation Strategist for The @Steveology Group: A Content Marketing agency that drive sales and dominate markets for high tech B2B. You can contact Steve or connect with him on Twitter as @Steveology.

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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

And a special thank you for the very cool team at Racepoint Global for their outstanding work and continued support.