The mandate for B2B marketers is to successfully deliver buyer-driven experiences (BDXs) as self-service encounters. If the experiences you’re providing are not — or are merely transactional — it’s prudent to reconsider. The research and sentiment are clear: your B2B buyers prefer to drive without you along for most of the ride.
This means we not only have to think and act buyer-first, but we need to gain clarity on how to take a mostly “hands-off” approach to help buyers advance to the point where they want us in the passenger seat to help them complete solving their problem.
The key to momentum in BDX is in the word “driven.” The idea of driving is to get somewhere, generate momentum, to advance your position in relation to your destination.
Unfortunately, many experiences your buyers have are more like taking a wrong turn and finding a dead end. They’re boring, unhelpful, too complex, too salesy, and vendor-focused. And they end. With no clue about what to do next (that’s palatable) in sight.
Instead of focusing on getting information in front of your buying audience, B2B marketers need to think more about what your buyers will do with that information. Why your buyers will care.
I recently sat in on a planning meeting for a marketing program with a client. The discussion centered around how to extend reach, get the display ad seen by the target audience, and other tactical execution points.
What was missing was why the team selected the content for the program. What impact would it have on the audience? What would they do with it that would help them advance to the outcome they intend the program to produce?
Marketers get so caught up in what we want — and the mechanics of getting it — that we spend little time or curiosity in discovering what’s really compelling to our buyers. We don’t think through the story we’re telling beyond a touch or two at a time. Too often we focus our thinking on format and our call to action (CTA).
This is a big reason why buyers find vendor-produced experiences so forgettable. Only 14% of buyers did something different after a recent digital experience with a company, according to research from Gartner.
The discussion I was in continued to debate the length of a video to display, when to use it (before or after the ebook or as a follow-on to the webinar), and in what channels. There was no discussion had about the information the video was delivered, why the roles involved would care, or what they’d get out of it that would help them gain momentum. Most critically, the team treated the video as a transactional event rather than a chapter of the story the program will share to build momentum toward the goal.
The program lacked Flow.
Buyer-Driven Experiences Need to Establish Flow
BDXs executed quickly, well, and with purpose is the mandate for marketers already overwhelmed with To-Do lists that just keep getting longer. To ease the strain, think about the creation of meaningful experiences in relation to the concept of Flow.
So, what is Flow?
The dictionary defines flow as a verb as in movement or as if in a stream. But let’s apply the concept of Flow coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1975.
Csikszentmihalyi was fascinated with understanding what contributed to making a life worth living. He discovered people find genuine satisfaction during a state of consciousness called Flow. You’ve likely experienced “being in the zone.” That’s the simple way to explain the concept of Flow.
Think of Flow as representing the feeling of complete absorption and energized focus in an activity that gives you a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment. You’re so engaged you lose track of time and the internal voice in your head isn’t bugging you to multi-task.
When you experience Flow during work you gain a singlemindedness that raises your performance and productivity levels. You know the feeling. It’s when you complete a task efficiently, without wasting effort. There’s no friction and everything just comes together as it should.
This is the “feeling” we want to establish with our buyer-driven experiences.
Your buyers have a day job. Their goal in solving a problem is to expend the least amount of time, energy, and effort in getting that job done. This means the more focused and helpful the experiences we provide that eliminate friction by putting them in control and matching their context, the higher the chances we can help them “get in the zone” of solving their problem.
Flow is reflective of the four constants related to BDX, including relevance, context, simplicity, and choice.
Flow Leads to Momentum
Movement and change are interconnected. Therefore, momentum is necessary to help buyers develop a willingness to change/buy. If buyer-driven experiences can replace cursory interest with Flow, you’ll generate the momentum that helps buyers advance…and continue to do so with your help.
Momentum occurs because — during the experience with you — your buyer learned something new and useful. They didn’t have to question its “truth” because you supported your assertions with data, and you showed them the value of whatever you taught them.
Your storyline and content help connect the dots, but when you also incorporate the five elements that enhance the experience, buyers don’t pause to question if it will be worth their time to continue. The inherent simplicity and relevance help them make the choice to continue engaging.
Many marketers lament the difficulty of catching their buyers’ attention. But you must also keep their attention to create momentum. Their perception of the quality of experience you provide plays a big part. Flow can help.
To build buyer-driven experiences that create flow, consider:
- What does your buyer want — given their context in the moment?
- Which emotions come into play around the topic — given their role and perspective?
- What can they do with whatever they learn from their interaction with you?
- How can you connect them with the next thing they need to learn to advance?
All these factors, and more, go into the creation of momentum. We need to stop thinking about one transaction at a time. That mindset inadvertently leads to stalls we — and our buyers — don’t need.
A transaction is a simple exchange, quickly forgotten. Your buyers remember an experience often for the way it made them feel. The memory of the experiences had with you helps your buyers think of you first as they advance in their buying process, not the transactions.
By thinking about — and creating — the “whole” of a buyer-driven experience, the momentum that naturally follows leads to a demonstrable impact on pipeline velocity.
Creating momentum is all about focusing on what your buyer wants — not what you want.
If you give them that, momentum will follow.