A client recently told me that if there is one single important trend they’ve noticed over the last few years, it’s that they’re being approached increasingly later in the buying cycle. More calls than ever are being taken which simply ask: “How much will it cost, and when can you deliver?” They can think of a few reasons for this, some to do with what competitors are up to. However, they’ve decided that it really comes down to the obvious reason: more buyers are doing their own research and deciding on the best approach without asking suppliers.
We all know this isn’t necessarily a good thing for anyone. We all like to think we’re in the business of getting involved with customers’ problems and developing complete systems solutions, etc. You know the score. But you can’t halt progress. It does appear that customers may not want (or trust) suppliers’ advice as much as in the past. If this is the case, there are two implications for marketing.
The first is that we need to be there when the buyers are doing all this research. We need to have the answers online to the questions they’re likely to be asking. In this case, we hope that they’ll note who provided the answers.
If we don’t get in at this stage, then we need to be there right at the end. If the buyers have already decided they want blue widgets, without talking to suppliers, our advertising needs to be very product-based and to make it very clear that we can deliver here, now and at a competitive price. Not a very sophisticated message, but it may be an increasingly effective one.