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B2B Marketing: How To Understand What Your Customer Wants To Know

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At BrainRider, we’re always evolving our content planning tools to follow lead generation best practices.  The following tip is one of of our favorites from Marketing Sherpa and how we apply it.

Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“.  While you likely agree that you should be focused on your customer it is hard work to get it right.  Just think of all the “about us” content that is sent your way every day!

Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is the strategic question we ask in order to apply discipline around this best practice.  But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, you need to know more about your customer.  While traditional customer research methodologies can provide rich and robust data their cost can be more than they are worth for companies with a limited research budget.  The good news is that you can still get lots of customer learning with the following quick and dirty — but effective tools.

Four ways to profile what your customer wants to know

1. Start by looking at your web analytics.

Google analytics is a great place to start tracking your site if you don’t do so already. Because every visitor to your website leaves a digital footprint you can check your site’s referral data which shows you where your traffic is coming from and if the visitor used a search term to get to your site.  Ignore the table-stakes referrals that just mention your company name, product names, or URL.  These visitors were just navigating by search.  Instead look for terms that indicate what a visitor was looking to understand.  But don’t forget that searches will only get to your site if you have at least some information about what they are looking for.  See our post on http://blog.brainrider.com/2010/03/why-knowledge-marketing-is-like-the-aroma-of-apple-pie/ for more information on how that works. Here are some examples of recent searches that brought prospects to BrainRider.com:

  • “how to increase b2b sales”
  • “find b2b customers”
  • “how do I nurture new customers”
  • “85% of B2B customers use the Internet”
  • “enforcement of pipeda usa”
  • “inconsistent brand b2b”
  • “increase B2B sales”
  • “privacy legislation in Canada b2b”
  • “what are sales nodes”
  • “understanding decision stages”

2. Next, ask the people in your company who speak directly with your customers.

Sales, customer support, who ever picks-up the phone when customers call are great places to start.  They will have a real understanding of customer needs and especially what customers want to know.  Work hard to get them to remember all the questions they get asked, ESPECIALLY the questions that were harder to answer.   It is sometimes easier to dig deeper for this insight if you do a small team brainstorm or at least an in-person conversation.  We use questions like these and lots of repetition of the same question phrased different ways to get the conversation started:

  • Who is your best customer?  What are your 3 best client opportunities?  Who are the key stakeholders?What are some of the questions they ask?  What are some other questions that might get asked?  What are the more general things they want to know?
  • What keeps them up at night? What does their boss want to know?  What information would they love to get?
  • What industry information do they search on the web for?  What are they Googling?  Where else do they go for information?
  • What do they care about most?  What kinds of problems are they trying to solve?

3. Ask your customers to share what they want to know.

Start by putting a search box on every page of your site and tracking what visitors are searching for.  Consider a question form with a call to action like “Ask our experts”.  Include a question on your telemarketing scripts.  Ask existing customers, customers who use your competitors, or new prospects.  Ask them over lunch, coffee, or breakfast.  Even non-customers can sometimes give you great insights about what a customer might want to know.  So ask over cocktails in your neighbourhood!  And the good news is that customers who know that you want to know what they want to know usually think you are smart because you want to know what they want to know.  (Or something like that.)

4. Listen to the questions your customers are asking in other places.

For example, LinkedIn groups, industry forums, association message boards, tradeshows, industry publications can all be a rich source of intelligence.  And don’t forget the questions that analysts and experts in your industry are answering.  These sources are often paid to keep current with high-value questions from your customers.

Using these quick and dirty research approaches you can start to build an understanding of what your customer wants to know.  And that is the first step to practicing Marketing Sherpa’s lead generation best practice advice that it is “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU).”

And one last point.  We would really love to know what you want to know more about.  So please send your question to info@brainrider.com.  We promise to try and answer it!

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Quick follow-up and thanks for the emails!  Check out laddering as a tool to gain more insight on what your customer wants to know.  See this post from @Savvy_B2B: Steps to Success – Using Laddering in B2B Marketing  http://www.savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/629611/steps-to-success-–-using-laddering-in-b2b-marketing

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15 Responses to B2B Marketing: How To Understand What Your Customer Wants To Know

  1. Scott Armstrong says:

    Check out two great resources from Jared Spool and User Interface Engineering on: Spending Quality Time with Your Search Log

    http://www.uie.com/articles/time_search

  2. Another related post worth checking out is from Social Media B2B:
    THINK, REALLY THINK, ABOUT YOUR B2B CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

    http://socialmediab2b.com/2010/03/think-really-

  3. Pingback: B2B Marketing Content: How to plan website, sales collateral, email, blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other marketing copy for my business « BrainRider Blog

  4. I agree with you…The optimum utilization of the various source for the betterment of the sales promotion will be held in the B2B marketing…keep sharing.

  5. I agree with you…The optimum utilization of the various sources for the betterment of the sales promotion will be held by the B2B Marketing…keep sharing.

  6. Best way to know about the customer psychology and the further steps to be taken in the promoting their needs and requirements.keep sharing.

  7. ReachForce says:

    Great post, Scott. At ReachForce, we find another good way to discover what our customers want is through our customer satisfaction surveys. We try to run them once a year, and in addition to getting feedback on the quality of our service, we also discover a lot about our customers’ greatest challenges within their business. nnHere are some ideas we explored in a recent blog post: hadn’t thought about employing our sales team to solicit feedback, but I certainly will be going forward. Thanks for the great ideas!nnBest,nDrew SollbergernReachForce

  8. DrewnnGreat post!nnLove this quote “Prospects that engage in 2 touch points are 25% more likely to be in a buying cycle.”nAnd amy’s blog post ideas are terrific.nnThanks for posting.nnCheersnnS

  9. Great @GlobeandMail series from @omarelakkad on business blogging.nPart One: Does your company need a blog?nPart Two: Should you go big with your blog?nPart Three: Electrify your blog with simple tools and plug-insnDiscussion: How to use a blog to boost businessnnCheck it out at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/your-business/business-categories/web-strategy/electrify-your-blog-with-simple-tools-and-plug-ins/article1776125/n

  10. Thanks for the post Scott!

    Being in the business, your primary responsibility is the costumers. How satisfied
    they are with the product and services you offered them. Customer satisfaction first
    + Profit would be the factor to be considered. Staying your costumers happy would
    mean that your company is successful. These four points that you had mentioned
    can be a helpful guidelines towards growth and development of a company.

  11. Sonia Groody says:

    All in all, it’s all about communication. It’s important that you build your relationship with your customer with good communication. It can be done directly and indirectly. Some say that they gain more trust if they communicate personally… I must agree because customers can see the sincerity of the representative talking to them. But don’t you think it would also be effective if customers hear and feel the sincerity over the phone? They’ll think, ‘what more if I see him/her in person’, right? :D
    Sonia Roody

  12. Sonia Groody says:

    Determining your target market and knowing their needs and wants are essential in running a business.By listening to their suggestions,you can have an idea what aspects of your business need improvement.Achieving customer service satisfaction is the key to business profitability. A fully satisfied customer can make testimonials, which can be considered as a good form of indirect advertising

    Sonia Roody

  13. Pingback: B2B Marketing School: sharing what we learned in 2010 | Brainrider

  14. Pingback: Accelerating Your B2B Pipeline: Best Practice Lessons

  15. Pingback: B2B Marketing: How To Understand What Your Customer Wants To Know

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