Understanding the Buyer’s Voice and Why It Matters
Majority of B2B companies focus so much on finding huge opportunities that they forget to deliver on their promises and make a positive, lasting impact on their customers.
In this episode of the B2B Digital Marketer Podcast, Samantha Stone shares on this episode why business should focus less on the quantity of leads they get and more on targeting the right customer and delivering deep and meaningful value to them. According to Samantha, everything you do in marketing is all about understanding the buyers and meeting their needs.
Samantha Stone, author of “Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales”, is a revenue catalyst who helps unleash the possible in organizations that have complex selling processes.
She’s a fast-growth, B2B marketing strategist, researcher, speaker, consultant and persona coach who has also managed to find time to raise four children with her husband, David.
Throughout her career she has launched go-to-market initiatives and led marketing strategies for award-winning, high-growth companies including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software and Powersoft.
In 2012 she founded The Marketing Advisory Network to help savvy business leaders unleash the possible within their enterprises.
01:01 – About Samantha Stone
01:56 – The test of endurance on long-term sales cycles
03:15 – Samantha’s passion in B2B digital marketing
04:34 – Why your company should deliver on what it promises
05:46 – Building a relationship with the buyer
07:50 – Making things easy for your customers
09:14 – Why the buyer’s journey is overrated
11:02 – Communicating with people who are in survival mode
13:19 – How often we go through the reengagement process
15:32 – Every company needs to know what it stands for.
19:35 – Shifting the budget from physical events to virtual events
21:32 – Quality vs. quantity content
23:09 – Asking your customers what they care about
24:46 – Understanding the buyer’s voice and balancing our point of view
26:57 – Why the buyer may not understand what you understand
28:24 – Where marketers should invest their money
32:15 – The one question every marketer should ask themselves
37:47 – Connect with Samantha Stone
“Customers telling our stories are far more powerful than those product data sheets that we spend a lot of time on.”
“People don’t need 16 blog posts in their life, they need something deep and meaningful that they truly care about.”
“It’s not about a lot of stuff, it’s about the right, meaningful things.”
Links and Resources
The Curse of Knowledge by Chip and Dan Heath
Samantha’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthastonemarketing/
Samantha’s website: http://marketingadvisorynetwork.com/
Show TranscriptClick to access unedited transcript
Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay, B2B DM gang. I’ve got somebody on the show today. Who’s now you need a hold on because she’s just full of energy. And she’s going to provide us with a lot of insights about many of the projects that she’s working on, both in client based as well as an interesting community service project that we may want to talk about. Cause I think that also may have some benefit and impact when you start thinking about your own digital marketing activities. Samantha Stone is actually also an author of unleash possible, a marketing playbook that drives sales. She is a revenue catalyst that works with fast growth B to B marketing are actually B2B software companies. Uh, and so she helps with both strategy research, persona building, you know, the things that are important and in order to make sure that you’re connecting with your customers in the most effective way, Samantha Stone, thanks for coming to the show.
Samantha Stone (00:54):
Thanks for having me. I always blush when I have somebody reads the formal bio, it sounds so big and, and um, probably more grandiose than it really is. I fundamentally come in and love working with companies to help them reach their growth strategies. And you know, those are often B2B software companies, sometimes services companies, anybody has a complex buying process. Those are the folks that we specialize in
Jim Rembach (01:19):
Well, and you know, and that’s why I want to join the show is because that’s really what, when you start talking about B to B marketing that we most focus in on, on the B2B digital marketer podcast show, because that sales cycle, you know, can be anywhere from, you know, a few months to maybe even sometimes a couple years for certain organisms, for certain organizations and certain solutions. And it’s a different path that you’d have to go down versus just, Hey, you know, I’m purchase my accounting services or something like that, right?
Samantha Stone (01:50):
Yeah. It’s a test and endurance, right.
Jim Rembach (01:53):
That’s a great, great way of explaining it. And I always talk about the whole marathon component. You know, the relationship building, uh, for me, I always joke how, even on the paid side, right, Hey, I’m trying to get more leads and stuff. And then companies, what they’ll do is, you know, put, put an ad out there and then take people straight to the whole, Hey, take a demo. I’m like, what? I mean,
Samantha Stone (02:16):
They forgot all the dating, right? They, you know, the cording part, the, you know, bill getting to know you, right beginning of this process is just getting to know that buyer and what their needs and wants and desires are and how they like to communicate. Then we get to ask you out on a date.
Jim Rembach (02:30):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So for me, um, you told us a little, but just give us a little bit more about your background and what your real passion is in this space.
Samantha Stone (02:39):
I, you know, I care really deeply about something that is, um, completely foundational and, um, and in some ways we, we know it, but we don’t always act on it. We fundamentally care about understanding the buyer at the end of the day, everything we do in marketing, every ad, we place every piece of collateral. We create every presentation we author, every website, copyright should be about understanding our buyers and communicating there in a way that needs and communicating to the right buyers. A lot of our products and services can serve lots and lots and lots of people. And we spend so much time, particularly software companies showing the biggest market opportunity on the planet, right? We were like, we go to get funding, whether it’s a loan or venture capital money or seed money, and we have to make it this big, big, big, big opportunity.
Samantha Stone (03:31):
But the reality is we can’t go after big, big, big opportunities. We have to narrow it down to the people that we can have the most impact with. And so we spend a lot of our time, are we focused on the right people? What do they care about? How do we serve them? And then of course, once they become customers, how do we turn them into raving fans? And how do we turn them into advocates? Because we all know that customers telling our stories are far more powerful than those product data sheets that we spend a lot, a lot of time on
Jim Rembach (03:58):
Bye, Tiffany. I mean, for me, what you just said there, I also think is very foundational. I often talking about the three very important components that will impact our digital marketing it’s yes, it’s sales, it’s the marketing that we do, but it’s also that client success, you know, and, and Hey, we have them now let’s keep them and turn them into raving fans.
Samantha Stone (04:18):
You know, that’s the fundamental difference for a lot of organizations. We talk with, we, they, they get very good at getting top of funnel and they may even get good at closing business. But if we’re not good at serving business where you hit a wall and you hit a wall around your profitability, right at the end of the day, you know, we’re here to make money. W w this is, you know, I don’t generally work with companies that are nonprofits that are there for some moral things. Hopefully most of the companies that work with have a moral value proposition and they care about the people that they serve. But fundamentally, we want to make money. You cannot make money. If your product or service doesn’t deliver what it promises, and you don’t have customers who help champion it and grow. It’s, it’s an absolute must for what we have to do. And we as marketers spend too much time at the top of the funnel and not enough working and supporting the backend of that.
Jim Rembach (05:08):
I love that because for me, I always talk about that. My job on that front end is to be able to serve up, you know, a lead or an opportunity that makes it very easy for sales to close. And it really is focusing in on that entire, Hey, how do we date? How do we connect? How do we build the rapport? How do we do it? That’s what we have to really focus in on that front end.
Samantha Stone (05:31):
Absolutely. They have to understand what we do. We need to know who they are, and if we can deliver those things and help salespeople have engaged conversations and dialogue, you know, really what we’re trying to create is dialogue, not a lead. I know lead is a term we need to use because that’s how our systems track things and they’re valuable, but I’m not looking to create a lead. I’m looking to create a dialogue with people who can use our product or service. And that is a very different way of thinking. I know Jim, that you think this way, and I know lots of people do, but it’s been a long, hard, um, challenge to bring sort of our industry along to thinking this way. Um, and I’m pleased to start seeing more and more signs of it. I, you know, we have a long way to go and this isn’t easy, but I’m reassured as I start to see, um, the rise of things like account based marketing and the better integration of sales and marketing and those things are really, really important to our customers. They, they, they care a lot about them.
Jim Rembach (06:28):
I think that’s a great point because a lot of times I talk I’ll refer to, and I’ve experienced it myself as the over promising and the under-delivering.
Samantha Stone (06:36):
Yeah. I want to go the other way. Right? I want to, I want to surprise you a little bit. I want to give you what you need and convince you of that, but I also want to make sure that we’re, um, in some ways, exceeding an expectation, whether that expectation is the same level of delivery, but how we do it as different, the relationships that I’m able to build with you as special, because look, we can all build good things that people need, but you don’t create fans by being good. You create fans by doing something that is special and unique, and that may not be the offering. It may be how we deliver that offering to our customers. And that’s really critical to think about
Jim Rembach (07:12):
Most definitely. And I can tell you for me, um, I received something that was extremely gratifying, uh, not too long ago that I didn’t even realize it would be when I received it. And what I received was a, uh, uh, a thank you from a sales person with one of my clients. And I’m like for, you know, why are you thanking me? And she said, you, and the work that you have done have made it significantly easier for me to make a sale.
Samantha Stone (07:44):
Oh, he’s still my heart. That’s right. Because, you know, that’s the sales person’s perspective, but on the other side, the buyer’s also thanking you. They probably didn’t know to reach out to you and send you a note, but it’s easier for the buyer as well, right? When they understand what we do, when they understand how it aligns to their needs, where they clearly can articulate, how are we different than the alternatives they may be considering? Whereas, where are we a good fit? That’s not easy. That’s really hard. We still complex things. Right? We sell things that are hard to explain, and if you can get that right in our marketing, wow. Like that is, that is incredible. And what a, what a lovely things. And by the way, nothing better than a, than a thank you note from anyone. Right? Like my favorite moments are when I wake up and I opened my email or I get my pile of mail. And there’s a thank you note from someone in any context of my life. And, um, it’s a great Testament to making a difference.
Jim Rembach (08:36):
Oh, most definitely. Okay. So when you start talking about, and you kind of, you’ve already hit on the passion that you have for B to B, but what do you think is quite overrated when it comes to B2B digital marketing?
Samantha Stone (08:48):
That’s a really good question. There’s candidly. I think we think of the buying process is linear, right? So we always draw it. Anybody say you, somebody starts here and they do this, and then they do this and then this, and I do it too. Look, I write buyer’s journeys and they do this and they do this and they do this and then do this because we need a framework by which we can act, right. And we need some way to capture the major milestones that people move through. But the reality is nothing is linear. Nothing is precise, things, move back and forth all along the way. And I think this notion of buyer’s journey is really important and we need to do it and we need to not guess it. And you can’t just sit down with salespeople and ask what the buyer’s journey is.
Samantha Stone (09:31):
Cause they don’t see 90% of the buyer’s journey. They only see the part that interacts with them. But I think how we simplify it is overrated. We want to create these, these, um, cursory understanding of it and start looking at it from our own perspective. And that’s not enough. We need to actually dig in there and, and go deep. Um, and we need to do the hard work of understanding all of the stuff, the buyers DOE that does not include me. They’re not visiting my website. They’re not talking to a salesperson. They’re not reading my literature through. They’re having conversations. They’re building requirements, documents, they’re debating with their boss about how much they can spend. Right? All of those things that our buyers do, I’m prioritizing this over the 50 other things on their, to do list. Um, and we need to do a better job of being empathetic to that and trying to serve those other things as much as we can.
Jim Rembach (10:25):
And what you just said right there to me is the biggest friction point that I often find is that, you know, Hey, you’re your number one priority. If you’re sales, right? You have to make that sale. However, you’re not there’s. Yeah.
Samantha Stone (10:41):
Yes. I mean, look, I would love to believe that the most important part of your day to day Jim is talking to me, it’s probably not. I’m hoping you are enjoying our conversation. I certainly am. And I hopefully our listeners and viewers, well as well, but at the end of the day, we all live in this complex context. Every day something’s going right now, it’s gotten, you know, even more right. Everybody is in survival mode. In one point, you know, we’ve never gone through a point in time and the world where this type of additional anxiety and pressure and stress has affected everyone. We’ve gone through moments in time where there was a crisis. There was a floods in Texas, or there were, um, tornadoes in Thailand or tsunamis in Thailand that affected people. Or there were, um, election dis you know, disruptions in another country.
Samantha Stone (11:31):
There are points in times where things happen and we as marketers react to them right now, the thing that is happening is literally impacting every single person in the world in some way. And every single person has had stress. They may be still working. They may not be working. They may be home. They may be in an office or on a manufacturing plant floor, but they are impacted in some way, but it’s happening in the pandemic. And we, as B to B, marketers have to recognize that people have gone into survival mode, right? They may have food, they may have shelter, but mentally our brain space is survival mode. And I’m not gonna, I can’t process 18 months from now. So it has, we’ve had to change how we communicate to people. And it’s an extreme example, but the same thing is true on an individual basis, what might be happening at a company, but be happening with a person, right? We’ve all sold to someone who just had a baby, a happy moment, but guess what? They’re distracted. And no matter how much they care about their job, there’s this outside context that is in fact affecting them. And we can’t pretend that the only thing that matters to them is that job in that moment.
Jim Rembach (12:42):
So I have to ask you, when you start talking about that buyer journey, right, is that, how often are you finding yourself to have to go through a reengagement process? So like, you know, when you start talking about all these different factors and, you know, Hey, we had a reorg, Hey, we had an acquisition, Hey, my job responsibilities change. You now have a new person who you’re interacting with. All of these things happen. I mean, so when you start talking about the buyer journey, how often do you see that come into play?
Samantha Stone (13:11):
Well, more often than not. So two of the most successful, short term revenue campaigns that I, that my clients run or that I was in house for a lot of years before I launched the marketing advisory network, nine years ago, two of the most successful campaigns that consistently perform to drive short term revenue boosts. It’s not necessarily as a closed loss campaign. People that we actually lost to whether they bought someone else or they didn’t buy anything. And we considered them out of our pipeline and pipeline acceleration programs that look at people who might be stalled at a particular stage and try and move them forward. Something has happened in both of those instances where we have lost some level of engagement with folks. And so always there is, um, in these complex buying processes where multiple people are making a decision, we’ve got to reengage and we have to build strategies into our marketing that is constantly reengaging.
Samantha Stone (14:10):
And re-engaging, by the way, isn’t just marketing. How do we help support sales in their reengagement? How do we help customers account management? Re-engage how do we reengage with our executives? In what ways? Sometimes it’s engaging because we’re at, I mean, we’re not at physical events right now, but under normal circumstances, we would be so sometimes an engagement isn’t about us, you know, sending about one where out of physical event, how do we reengage the people we lost touch with that are so happened to be there, right? So how do we create opportunities for people to say yes, to talking with us and dialoguing with us? And that’s absolutely critical to supporting long buying processes that months, weeks, sometimes to your point Jim years.
Jim Rembach (14:56):
Most definitely. So I think when you start talking about everything that is so chaotic at the moment, there are opportunities for some, you know, stability, consistency that are going to add value. So when you start looking at I’m here right now today, and I call this our new reality. I mean, I’m sorry, we’re going to have many cycles closer and closer to the things that we’re experiencing right now. It’s not, you know, I think if you go back to the H one N one that was a few years, a few years ago, you had the Bola issue. That was, and so what’s going to start happening is these events are going to happen more often. Um, we’re getting more globalized. I mean, we’re interacting more as an entire species. Um, we’re doing all kinds of other things as far as even creating radicals that maybe infusing some things. I mean, there’s just a whole lot, that’s not even getting into the whole natural disaster thing. So it’s our new reality, but there’s opportunities for us to stand out. Um, and I talk about, you know, Hey, what do I, what can I do in order to be a disruptor? So in your mind, what do you think a BTB digital marketer can do right now to maybe disrupt things and stand out?
Samantha Stone (16:07):
Yeah. One of the important things we have to do is figure out what we stand for. There’s a lot going on. We haven’t even talked about in America, the call for racial justice and getting rid of racism and the rise of the me too movement and all of these things, right? So we’ve sort of been, I’ve been talking about the pandemic and how sort of health crisis affects things. Talk a little bit about natural disasters could have a similar impact, but we also have these social movements that are happening. Every company doesn’t need to have something to say about a social movement, but every company does need to understand what it stands for and every company needs to live those values. So for me, sure, there’s parts of marketing that are disrupting people writing to get in front of people. So they see my message and we’ve got to be sensitive about how and where and why we do that.
Samantha Stone (16:52):
But none of that matters if we don’t really know our, our bigger meaning, our bigger calling, what are we trying to achieve and what are we trying to do? And how do we live those values in every interaction we have, and right now is the perfect opportunity to take a moment and pause and say, we all have some value chart. That’s on some poster in the cafeteria. And in, you know, in offices, we probably had meetings where we rolled it up, but take a step back. What do they really mean to us? And how do we really interact with that? And how do we take a moment to be real? One of the things that I hope stays after everything that we’ve been going through right now is customers are in fact more empathetic to businesses as well. They actually want to help businesses survive and thrive.
Samantha Stone (17:39):
They understand that we might not be able to deliver an overnight delivery of something like we did before. They know that they might have to leave a voicemail instead of a live person, picking up a phone for a customer support question, because they know that when they talk to somebody, they might have a little kids running around in the background or dogs barking or whatever’s going on. And so empathy goes both ways. Empathy goes to our customers and we as marketers, myself included, spent almost all of our time talking about that. But, you know, you’ve won when your customers and your buyers and your community are empathetic to you. And this is the opportunity. We have to be really clear about who we are, what we stand for and what we are as people. So we can build that kind of bi-directional empathy with our customers, because that’s what this is about building. And yes, they make rational business decisions, but we need an emotional connection to transfer from being a transaction, to being a, a partner and someone that they want to advocate for. And that is really hard, um, and really, really challenging, but completely doable. And we have the opportunity to do that. And we’ve seen lots and lots of companies model that behavior for us, and we have this great chance to stand up and, um, and leverage those models and to do some of that work ourselves.
Jim Rembach (18:58):
So I start thinking about, wow, we’ve had it a lot of different aspects of that buyer journey. Um, and it definitely has to align with how we set up our systems. And certainly it also has to align with where we’re investing in putting all of our effort. Now, when you start thinking about where we are today, um, and looking at maybe the beginning of the year, I have the same budget, maybe even less than I have to work with now because of revenues, numbers have been impacted. But if I was to say, I w I should think about reallocating investments from one place to another, where do you think you’d make that shift? Where do you want to invest more in right now with the same budget?
Samantha Stone (19:37):
That’s a really good question. I do want to, I’m going to answer that. I promise, but I do want to come make one comment on something you said, you know, we have to align around our systems. That is true, but one of the big mistakes I see companies making is if we can’t take all the manual steps out and we can’t, um, and we can’t scale it in an automated way, we tend to be afraid of doing it. There are things that are worth doing that require manual intervention that are imperfect. The system can’t do for us in these, particularly in these complex sales processes. And we have entire groups of people called salespeople to actually execute those manual steps for us. And we, as marketers need to do a better job of being okay with not being able to scale something and being okay with something being manual, because that’s how we built connections.
Samantha Stone (20:23):
So having said that, you know, look, physical events are not going to happen for the rest of the year. So whatever money we were spending on them, we have the opportunity to think about how can I create a better digital experience for someone. Some of that might be an investing in virtual events, which by the way, are not inexpensive to do well. If you want interactivity, if you want to create the proxy for networking, if you want to treat it like as bi-directional and not just to push communication, you have to invest in doing that. But I’m a big believer. This is an opportunity for us to take a moment to do that. I also think there’s an opportunity for us to take a step back and think about content. We often tend to be thinking about content as volume, how much stuff can I get out?
Samantha Stone (21:03):
I want to create a lot of things. I need a steady cadence in theory. That’s true. But actually, if you go back and you look at what matters in buying processes and what matters and changing the trajectory of campaigns, it’s always one or two really meaningful pieces. It’s always like this. There’s a, there’s a couple things that get shared a lot. There’s a couple things that really move the way a reader or watcher thinks. And so we need to take this moment to pause and say, what is that? What can I bring to the world that my buyers care about right now that is deep and important and changes the way somebody thinks about something and kind of throw out that editorial calendar right now, because people don’t need 16 blog posts right now in their life. They just, don’t, they’re busy, they’re exhausted. They’re working from home, or maybe they’re in an office and their anxiety is up because everybody’s wearing a mask and they’ve got barriers.
Samantha Stone (21:56):
And they’re standing far apart with, you know, all these things are affecting us. So we need to take the moment and say, it’s not about a lot of stuff. It’s about the right meaningful things. And it’s, it may take us longer to create those. It may be something we can’t whip out quickly. That’s okay. Now, just to listeners, don’t get confused. I’m not advocating, stopping short form things. I’m not saying don’t have some cadence. I’m just saying this is a perfect moment in time to pause and really think about what you can make a significant and meaningful difference for your community.
Jim Rembach (22:32):
You know, as you were saying that I find, uh, oftentimes what happens is people move on to the next thing. And what I mean by that is, so if I’m talking about just the blog post example, um, you know, I take an, I do that blog post, I move on to the next thing and we don’t think about chunking. And so it’s like, Hey, I had something. It was very impactful. Instead, I need to think about repurposing. And that creates all those little micro, you know, type of content components and elements, but it’s going back to that piece that was impactful. So I find that people oftentimes just spin their wheels, creating content and getting into that spiral of just cranking things out and not really seeing and taking advantage of the things that did have the impact.
Samantha Stone (23:16):
You know, the biggest thing we could do is actually ask people their opinion before we publish something. So I’m not talking about a small blog post or a social post, but when you have a meaningful chunk of content that you’re producing, you know, I don’t know about you, Jim, but I’ve been part of some pretty lengthy internal review cycles where we’d sometimes have eight, 10, 15 people internally reviewing and providing input. I’m not writing for those people. So sure. I get that. We have to have an internal workflow and a process. And some of those people are, but we actually ask the people it’s for go. I don’t care. If you ask to go find two people that you’re creating this content for and tell them, does this meaningful to you, did it answer questions that are important to you? What’s missing? Do you care? Like just go, you know, like even little, little samples of our actual buyers make a big difference on that piece of content ability to actually have an impact.
Jim Rembach (24:09):
I love that you said that one of the things I often find that I want to just say, but I can’t, uh, is when you people do review something internally and they start giving you this feedback, and I want to say, you know what? I don’t care about your opinion.
Samantha Stone (24:24):
I don’t quite say I don’t care, but I do often try and point out. We might make it, you know, we might be suffering from like these common denominator syndrome, right. Where like, you know, that’s not really the buyer’s voice, right? I mean, I’m sure Jim, you do the same thing. We get really good at the proxy for it doesn’t matter what you think, what matters is the person that we’re writing this for. And, um, that is, that is it really channeling thing for us to do as marketers is to balance, you know, our point of view and expressing our point of view to the world and understanding what the person who’s going to be consuming that content needs and wants from that.
Jim Rembach (25:01):
Yeah. It’s like, you’re not your customer.
Samantha Stone (25:04):
Right? Right. And, you know, look, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve worked for one or two companies where we were actually very much the persona of the person that we’re going, but most of us sell stuff that we don’t use. Most of us sell stuff that is, um, purchased from a very different person than ourselves. And we all do it. It is in our nature. You cannot help, but bring yourself to things that you review. Um, no matter how hard we try. So we have to do the research. We have to understand them. Number one. And then we have to practice putting ourselves in that lens. And it’s hard. I know that this is easier said than done.
Jim Rembach (25:37):
Most definitely. That’s one of the most, one of them, to me, it’s one of the most challenging elements, quite frankly. Um, and so chip and Dan Heath, uh, our authors, they wrote a book called made to stick. Um, and they’ve wrote, they’ve written a couple of others, but in that book, they introduced the curse of knowledge. And everybody is impacted by that whole curse of knowledge. It’s lot, especially when you’re starting to talk about a lot of the solution providers and service providers into the B2B space, because they’re experts in what they do and what they know and the products and services they created. However, being able to convey that to your target is, has to be done differently.
Samantha Stone (26:12):
Yeah. You know, it’s funny, you can’t see it. But, um, if I look to my left, there is that book on my shelf. Um, it’s a great book. I actually highly recommend it. Um, we, we have to understand it. And also we have to understand that, like we have to bring people, it took us years of building, whatever it is that we sell. And we, it took us years to get to this level of extra expertise about it. Right. And we have to remember, not only does our audience have a different point of view, they haven’t been there for this whole trail. Right. We also sometimes actually had this conversation yesterday with a client. We were creating a bunch of content. They said, Oh, this is getting boring. I’m like, timeout, you read 15 pieces of our content this week. I promise you not a single person that we’re marketing to has read anywhere near 15 pieces of our content this week.
Samantha Stone (26:57):
Right. So, no, we don’t want to be repetitive for repetitive statements. Think about, have all these pieces fit together. But we also have to recognize that our buyers don’t read our content in the order, by which we produce it. They don’t read it in concentrated times all together. They’re going to forget things we can’t say in paper three. Well, we take that out because we talked about that in paper. One, the people reading papers three don’t remember if they read paper one and often didn’t even see it. So, um, we, those are the things that we have to train ourselves to recognize and to try and take that step back. And it’s hard because the more we do, the more familiar we are with what we’re creating and it’s, it is a interesting step, which is why external people or people outside marketing should be reviewing content because they have a lens that, um, we as content creators can’t provide, we’re just too close to it.
Jim Rembach (27:48):
Most definitely. Okay. So let’s pull off the rains. Okay. Let’s pull off the constraints, right? So you have now a wealth of budget and resources to do whatever the heck you wanted to do. Right. Where would you invest?
Samantha Stone (28:00):
Oh, it’s impossible for me to answer that question because, um, um, well, here’s what I can tell you how I would make the decision about where to invest. So I would, um, look at my marketing, um, metrics at a very detailed level. I would look at three things I would look at, um, of the leads that are coming in. What, how are we converting to the next stage in our buying process, whether that’s a meeting a demo, it could be a variety of things. So what I would look at that, I would look at the length of time, it’s taking to move across the various stages of our buying process. So, you know, from demo to proposal, how long does that take, right? There’s, you know, whatever that process looks like for your product or service, how long between steps. And I would look at our goals as a business and how much, you know, we’re trying to do, whether it’s a profitability, primary goal, whether it’s more revenue growth, whether we’re trying to go after a new segments or whatever that strategic important business value is.
Samantha Stone (28:55):
And I would look at how are we performing? I would look at, um, then how do we, um, where are we stuck? Where are there, where are there places that we are struggling to move people? And I would put a lot of my attention on that. I’ll never tell somebody that, you know, Hey, um, take all your event money and move it to digital advertising. Almost never. Will that be the right thing to do? Is it likely that I’m going to move some shore, right. But we need to look holistically at how we are surrounding customers, you know, and we need to think about that. We also need to think about practical things right now, if you have a heavy, direct mail, um, strategy, um, which I believe in, by the way, I think direct mail can be meaningful and impactful at the right ways in the right places for B2B complex, long sales cycles.
Samantha Stone (29:43):
A lot of our buyers are not in their office. A lot of our buyers are not in wherever it is that they go to work right now. And I don’t where it’s going to send, sit on their desk. Like, so what do we do with that? So for me, I need to better understand the business and what we’re trying to achieve, but we do need to very much understand what we can’t do right now. Physical events, direct mail, the way we were going to do it. We have to reallocate things. And the closer I can get to creating a personalized dialogue with my buyers. That’s what I want to invest in. So maybe I keep doing the same, um, uh, placements for contents indication, for example, but what I might invest in creating some different kind of content, that’s going to be much more impactful and meaningful than what I’ve pushed there before, or maybe I’m going to increase the number of places that my advertisements are performing, or maybe I’m going to invest more heavily and really rethink my website and invest in how my website works.
Samantha Stone (30:41):
Or maybe I don’t really have an effective nurturing strategy. And I need to put some time and money and energy into that. So I can’t say prescriptively, this is the lever to push, but I can tell you, you have to look at that conversions along the way, find your bottlenecks, find the places where your stock and try and unstick those. The other thing is find, what’s working, find the people that you are successful with and look for the patterns. What makes it different? Did they consume certain types of content that others didn’t? Did we, um, are they a different kind of buyer? Do they, do we have clusters of success in one industry or one roll of people we target more than others. So maybe we’d find, Hey, people like this, don’t have double Proverbs in conversion. I’m going to go find more people like that. And I’m going to put that extra investment and finding more people like that. So it’s, um, it’s understanding that process very, very deeply.
Jim Rembach (31:38):
Okay. So one of the questions I ask is what do you think, you know, a digital B to B marketers, um, you know, really have to be asking themselves. And the reality is, I think you just ripped off about 10 questions.
Samantha Stone (31:52):
Yeah. You know, look, this isn’t easy. And, you know, we had to really take a look at our websites, you know, for the most part B to B websites are pretty awful. They’re beautiful these days, right? Because the technology that builds the infrastructure has been, um, much, much better. They’re rich and content because we all believe that it’s rich in content. We’re really lousy at creating dialogue. We throw a forum up all day long in front of people. And I do believe in this conversation of marketing, like drift is just one example of a company that enables it. But they did a really good job of saying like, don’t do forms to have conversations and we really need to do better at that in the B to B world, we need to have interactivity. We need to have a way to engage people. Look, people learn in multiple ways.
Samantha Stone (32:35):
Some people are auditory. Some people are visual. Some people are, have to do, but we were still too much push them through a form, push them, throw a form, push them through a form. And I get it. We want to know who’s consuming our stuff so we can follow up. But really what we want is we want people to come to us and think of us as an expert. So sure. We’ve got to capture some information, but we have a lot of control about how we capture that information and we’re not doing a good job. So if we could invest in technology and we can invest in infrastructure, to me, it would be about those places that we interact with those community and doing a much better job of making it feel like a relationship instead of putting up things that feel like barriers.
Jim Rembach (33:22):
Well, I think that’s a great point. So for me, what I’m finding more success in and more interested in is like interactive video, where it’s not just the push of a video. We’re actually people in a, where are some more of the sophisticated type types of, uh, um, you know, dial dialogue processes where people are actually giving you input and information about what their needs and desires and wants are. And then you’re actually taking that. And you’re automating that process. There’s more and more that that’s becoming available. And where I find a lot of my work going,
Samantha Stone (33:53):
I’m a big fan of video. I’m also a big fan of things like this. Like, why don’t you take a podcast or a video interview series or other things and talk to your buyers, right? Like it doesn’t every touch we have, doesn’t have to be about us and selling something. We’re just trying to build relationships with people. And if you’ve got a multi month or multi-year sales cycle, you’re going to have to talk about something other than yourself, because we’re going to get bored pretty quickly just talking about what we do. So we’ve got to provide those opportunities for people to engage and be real with each other and be human and acknowledge where we are. I also think that we as B2B marketers, don’t use enough of things like review sites that are out there, right? There’s these people who are talking about what their needs are, there’s these rich opportunities to see what they’re searching for.
Samantha Stone (34:36):
And we’re not fully utilizing those mechanisms to try and find people that we can serve. And it’s time for us to get a little bit more creative about that. And I get a little bit, again, it’s not about scale. A lot of the reasons I actually did a research project where I interviewed a whole bunch of people about B2B review sites and as marketers and how they’re using them and where they’re not. And one of the problems that can becoming is it’s not enough volume. The people that I meet are great, but I need six times as many. I’m like, why do you need six times? If these things convert a 10 times the rate of other things, I understand the desire to find things that are big, but we’ve got to stop, always looking for that. How do I scale it and how do I automate it and find the ways to engage. And sometimes that’s at small volume and sometimes that’s with a manual step that doesn’t mean we can’t scale and grow and other things, but we’ve got to find that balance better.
Jim Rembach (35:29):
Well, I think what you bring up though is oftentimes that pressure from outside of other words, you need to bring me more leads, need to bring me more leads, looking at the quality and the conversion aspect. Yeah.
Samantha Stone (35:41):
And whenever somebody says that, I look at them and I tell them, no, I don’t. I need to bring you more opportunities. The number of leads only matters because we have a math formula that we’ve created going down the path. And I could deliver you a thousand leads that generates 10 opportunities are going to do a hundred that generates 10, which do you want? I’d rather spend more and do the a hundred because I’m more efficient through the rest of the process. And I’m focused on the buyers who really really care, but those are hard discussions to have, right? That’s, that’s a, that’s a, um, our inclination is my need my business to grow. I need more at the top, but really what we need to be looking at. Sure. We may need some more at the top, but we also need to do a better job of moving people across the relationship with us.
Samantha Stone (36:22):
Because at the end, if those customers have really cared about us and we’ve moved them all the way through and they, they they’ve known us for months. We think about this. We as B2B, marketers are really lucky because our customers aren’t. We always talk about how hard it is, but think about the benefit of this. They are not impulse buying. We are building a multi month relationship with people that is way stickier than when I go into a store and I grab a cupcake off the shelf because Ooh, that looks good. And I’m hungry. I have no brand. As you know, I have no loyalty to that. It’s got loyalty and I’ve got investment. I’ve put months into deciding the solution that I’m going to choose. I’ve invested a lot. And I care a lot about that. That’s a gift to us as B to B marketers, and we need to do a better job of receiving that gift.
Jim Rembach (37:10):
Now, Samantha, I have, I’ve had a blast with you. Can you let the B to B digital marketing gang know how to get in touch with you?
Samantha Stone (37:18):
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I’m on LinkedIn and very active there. Um, so please people should feel free to reach out to me there. Um, you can also visit marketing advisory network.com and we’ve got tons of resources. And I think there’s almost nothing that has a form in front of it. I really believe in just sort of, you know, sort of eating my own words and living that. Um, the only time we really do a form is if somebody is registering for an event, because we need to be able to do ongoing communications about logistics, otherwise take it. There’s tons of great stuff there. I hope people use it, go to the resource section and, um, they’ll see lots of things that are the lessons that we’ve learned over the years that we want to make sure help marketers get better and better
Jim Rembach (37:58):
Samantha Stone. We appreciate you sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and we wish you the very best. Thanks for having me.