B2B Buyer Behavior – What Works in 2011

With the recent release of both the Buyersphere B2B research and Google Marketing Outlook for 2011, information about B2B buyer behavior and B2B marketing is only a few clicks and a pdf away. The Buyersphere surveys European buyers only, and the Google Marketing Outlook surveys primarily American marketers, which you could chalk up as the reason for two big fat inconsistencies as to where B2B lead generation will be had. But, because both groups focused upon, and agreed digital and internet sources are the most preferred, culture is sort of irrelevant. I mean, web-based activity is web-based activity, whether it comes from Ohio or Kazakhstan. At any rate, buyer behavior as documented in the Buyersphere is straight from the horse’s mouth. So, you marketing folks – listen up, and you won’t have to read 40+ pages of pdf documents.

There is one B2B marketing channel that was reported all-around to be the biggest money-sucking, budget-draining form of marketing: trade shows/offline events. Despite that marketers agree buyers prefer digital sources, 28% of marketing budgets went to trade shows: way, way more than any other form. Crazier still, 38% of marketers said they were going to spend even more in 2011. So, either trade shows are just crazy expensive, or marketers are going a little nuts with event fliers and logo t-shirts. Whichever it is, trade shows dropped from 33% to a piddly 18% in 2011, as sources that B2B buyers used at any point during a purchase process. So, a word of advice for marketing VPs: ease up on the trade show bucks.

The next inconsistency may surprise you. As said, both buyers and marketers agree internet sources are the most preferred. 40% of marketers apparently think Facebook Walls and Twitter followers are part of those preferred internet sources with the most influence. Oh contrare, according to the buyers. Only 10-12% of buyers used any social media – specifically Facebook, blogs and Twitter -to garner information at any point during the purchase process. Meanwhile, supplier websites/content and search engine research jumped from 55% to 70%, and 41% to 65%, making them the biggest sources of B2B buyer information.

So, how does this boil down for B2B lead generation, and how to get it? Well, B2B buyer behavior is definitely demanding more and more information from providers and suppliers. But, concentrating on the right sources with B2B marketing is key. So, beef up your web content, not your Facebook friends. Upgrade SEM instead of your LinkedIn profile. Hire SEO and web content writers, instead of bloggers and Tweetybirds. And, maybe reduce the whole bazillion dollar budget for event booths and hand-out buttons. Nobody wears buttons anyway.


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