Technology and the pandemic have changed how people communicate with one another. Most notably, they’ve altered communication in business and sales settings. Customers stopped going to tradeshows, picking up cold calls, or answering unsolicited emails. Here is how communication has changed.
The customer's journey has changed, and it's never going back. Buyers have embraced evolving technology, especially social media, to bolster their control over their purchasing paths. As a result, they're becoming more informed and have higher expectations about the quality, customer service, and relevance of the content they digest and products or services they purchase.
Social media has impacted B2B buying in a variety of ways. According to Elevation B2B, "Nearly 60% of B2B buyers browse existing social media conversations as part of their research process." In addition, company profiles on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and even TikTok enable businesses to share content and communicate with prospects and customers.
Adapting to serve a new breed of customer is the best way your company can survive and thrive today.
For decades, convention-style B2B trade shows enjoyed rockstar status in their respective industries. They functioned almost as annual Super Bowls for businesses, serving as an undeniable highlight to sales leaders and salespeople for new leads. But that's no longer the case.
According to Statists, "The exhibition industry revenue in the United States decreased rapidly in the first quarter of 2020 by 33.6 percent compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. In the first quarter of 2021, the industry saw a decline of 79.1 percent." This is no surprise, as many events and tradeshows were delayed or canceled considering the pandemic.
So, where are all of these customers going?
The key to understanding your customer's lies is meeting them where they are. Understanding starts with listening, and there's no better way to hear what your customers want than to be present where they’re spending their time. This could include social media, webinars, events, etc.
According to Ameyo, "57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support." In addition, more and more customers are going through social media channels to get ahold of a company. A Forrester study states, "33% of customers have contacted a company using Facebook and similar social channels."
If your customers are looking for information and content for your company on social media, you should have a brand presence there.
You have now found out where customers are looking for content relevant to your business. On average, "B2B buyers consume up to eight vendor-created pieces of content and five third-party pieces before making a buying decision," according to research by FocusVision. That content includes videos, blog posts, whitepapers, analyst reports, testimonials, reviews, etc.
Where are these pieces of content being sourced? According to the same report by FocusVision:
Customers looking for information about your company will often look on several sites, including social media and even reviews.
Company messaging is essential for customers searching for and finding your product or service. Often your customers search for an answer because they have a problem or a question. How you speak about the problems you solve is a far better approach than "this is what my company does."
Company messaging is how your company communicates its unique value proposition and personality through verbal and nonverbal messaging channels. Your messaging can inspire and motivate prospects, making them want to buy your product or service, so consistent messaging is vital to your company’s success and growth.
Eliminating brand dilution isn't easy, but it's well worth the effort. Top companies have proven this repeatedly. Regarding consistency, corporations such as Skype, SalesForce, and IBM rely on specific style guides that dictate all aspects of their brand messaging, including their referral partners.
When a prospect compares you to a competitor, company recognition will influence their final decision. You’ll want to create a clear, consistent brand message that's plugged into your social media channels, website content, email, and even text messages. According to Small Biz Genius, "presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%."
The purpose of consistent messaging is to help you stand out from your competitor. This means you’re sharing your company's value with prospects and customers, creating trusting relationships with them, and providing better consistent communication.
The internet and pandemic have entirely changed how customers make buying decisions and communicate with companies. It has also altered how salespeople sell, communicate, and reach out to potential customers. By understanding how communication in business has changed, companies can ensure they fully leverage the technology available today.