Do you remember the board game Guess Who? You and your opponent would try to guess which character each other selected by confirming various features such as eye color, hair, hats, glasses, and more. As you narrowed down your choices by asking characteristic questions, the winner made the best guess, first.
For a board game, this strategy works well. You take a shot in the dark and hope to arrive at the right answer by process of elimination. For marketers however, maybe a guessing game isn’t the right strategy.
Misunderstanding your buyer can manifest itself in many ways; poor campaign performance or a rise in email unsubscribes due to irrelevant messaging, dwindling conversion rates from mis-targeted website copy, failing sales numbers due to unqualified leads plus a lack of effective training and sales enablement materials, and more.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor. Here are 5 warning signs you maybe don’t know your B2B customer as well as you should.
1. Your product is the protagonist of your story.
Grab the nearest piece of marketing content – your last email campaign sent is a great place to start. Count how many times you see the words “we” or “our.” Now count how many instances of the word “you” or “yours” appears. Hopefully, your copy is skewed towards the latter. But take a close look. Is the copy focused on your solution, its benefits, and its features? Who is the real main character in the storyline of this piece of content? If it’s not the intended recipient, here’s a reality check: they don’t care.
2. You haven’t updated your buyer personas recently.
Honesty time: when was the last time you conducted fresh research to understand your buyers? Is your team relying on information about customers that was created before you had an iPhone (7 years ago)? If so, it’s time to revisit what’s happening in the worlds of your buyers. Business pressures evolve at the speed of life, which moves incredibly fast for many industry segments, especially technology. Understanding your buyers should never be considered a one-and-done project; even if you think you know, there’s likely room for updates. You may be surprised what’s changed.
3. There’s a donkey in the room.
Ok not a donkey, more specifically an ass. Wait, before you get offended, I’m referencing the age-old saying “when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.” When creating marketing content, product strategy, or sales playbooks (for example,) simply relying on assumptions can often lead to incorrect judgements and dangerous conclusions. Some humility in admitting you may be wrong can go a long way in course-correcting deep-seated assumptions about your buyers. If the assumptions are coming from the very top of an organization, it can be seem impossible to convince otherwise; seek to apply as much data as possible to assumptions to help validate, or invalidate, ideas.
4. Your empathy is… nonexistent.
Tony Zambito, an advisor to our business, is an evangelist for a more human centered approach to modern marketing. In a great post about empathy in marketing, he writes:
“In the modern marketing world where content has become the dominant way we communicate, empathy serves as a foundation to stand above the overdosing flood of information experienced by customers and buyers. It requires us to understand the context of the goals and challenges of our customers and buyers. Have you taken the time to put yourselves in their shoes? Lived a day in their life, considered the challenges they face and the problems they seek to solve?”
If the answer to these questions is no… chances are you don’t know your buyer very well.
5. You’re focused more on process than the people you’re selling to.
What’s on your to-do list this week? This month? This quarter? I’m willing to bet as a marketer, there are about a million items on that list. A big one is likely related to the process by which you launch campaigns, or the process of passing leads to sales, or the process of lead scoring. Improving the relationship between marketing and sales is an enormous challenge and one on the top of many lists!
Ardath Albee, also an advisor to Cintell, writes in a recent article about the power of the B2B buyer’s perspective, “rather than marketing programs or sales processes, we should be focused on buyer initiatives first and make them the drivers for what we do.” She makes a great case that by seeking to create a “continuum experience” where regardless of where the interaction is coming from, whether marketing or sales, companies should build on a foundation of consistent messaging and storytelling across all channels, cross-functionally. As she writes, “when we’re all on the same page, it truly makes the label of marketing or sales irrelevant.”