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How to discover the personal and emotional drivers for a B2B audience

“The best thing about doing this is that I got to have coffee with my Dad in the barn every morning until he passed. Now I have that cup of coffee with my son and will as long as he stays involved.” This statement paints a clear and vibrant picture of a small business owner’s emotional drivers. It surfaced in a series of qualitative in-depth interviews and encapsulates an emotional theme that ran through the interviews. It speaks to one of this audience’s core values and influences even their most rational decisions.

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Sporadic Customer Journeys in Low Involvement Categories

Set it and forget it is the attitude in many low involvement categories – data security, business insurance, telecommunications, etc. Inertia keeps businesses from proactively evaluating alternative solutions or vendors. If the product or service is good-enough businesses don’t have the motivation to evaluate their options. The purchase journey for these products and services consists of long stretches of inertia, interspersed with periodic spikes in interest in alternatives.

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Are the response rates to your B2B customer surveys dropping?

If the response rates to your B2B customer surveys have dropped the past couple of years you aren’t alone. The trend spans verticals, product types, decision makers and end-users. Multiple factors contribute to the decline in responses: Spam filters have gotten stricter; DIY survey tools and the near ubiquitous NPS programs overload customers with surveys; and, poorly designed surveys create a poor experience for customers. So what can you do?

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B2B Customers Are Not Logos

People don’t want to be a number. B2B customers don’t want to be a logo. An increasing number of companies refer to existing and potential customers as logos, e.g. Our goal is to add 20 more logos this year. It’s gone so far that a search on LinkedIn will produce individuals with titles like VP of New Logo Acquisition. We think referring to customers this way is a mistake. Beyond being jargon, it sends the wrong message to employees. Customers and prospects are better terms. A customer is a person or organization your company has a relationship with. A logo is a stamp.

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Who you are: What you say

Over the past two decades we’ve help many B2B vendors refresh their brand platform. We notice that some B2B vendors struggle to differentiate the themes and characteristics that can be the pillars of their brand platform from those that may be critical to the market, but do not represent sustainable and/or unique brand positioning. To help clients identify the difference between the two we use a simple construct that distills things down to the core distinction.

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Are you hard to work with? It matters.

Do your internal processes pull customers and prospects closer to you or do they push them away Research shows that companies and individuals that find a vendor easy to work with demonstrate higher levels of loyalty and likelihood to recommend. They use the vendor more fully, e.g. buy more products, use more features. They will even use technically inferior products and services when a vendor makes their lives easier.

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Uncertainty: The hidden barrier in B2B markets

Many B2B purchases are delayed or abandoned due to the uncertain outcome of the decision. Prospects compare the certainty of the status quo (good or bad) to the potential (but uncertain) benefits of a new solution and opt for the “devil they know”.  The implication: B2B Marketing and Sales can help prospects reach a purchase decision by reducing uncertainty for the new solution, and increasing uncertainty of the status quo.

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Make it Easy for B2B Prospects to Buy (address the last mile problem)

Do some prospects slip away at the last stages of their buying journey, even though it seems your sales and marketing teams have done everything right? You may inadvertently be making it difficult for some prospects to make a decision. The following illustrates how this situation arises, and how to avoid it (names have been masked to protect the guilty).

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Little Data: When B2B marketers don’t have access to big data

While B2B marketers wait for their organizations to adopt big data tools, they can leverage a range of cost-effective data sources to inform decisions that move their companies forward. The following are some of low-cost or free data sources (little data) B2B marketers, product managers and strategists can use to evaluate market opportunities, competitors, customer needs and overall market trends.

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Know thy enemy: How to overcome barriers in B2B technology sales

The Art of War advises that we can outsmart opponents and avoid battle when we “know thy enemy”.  While marketers typically define direct competitors as the enemy, internal barriers within prospect organizations pose equal peril.
Isurus has seen many innovative ideas in 20 years of B2B market research for technology companies.  Some ideas meet great success out of the gate, others languish for years before taking off, and some recede and disappear altogether.  Through this experience, we’ve identified four major reasons that prevent prospects from adopting new technologies.

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