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Content Marketing

Your B2B Buyer’s Journey Shouldn’t Be Like Pokemon Go

It’s installed more than Tinder (yep, more people want to find Pokemon than a date!), has as many daily users as Twitter and people are spending more time on it than they do individually on WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger – an average of 43 minutes a day, in fact. Not too shabby for an app that launched just weeks ago!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you likely haven’t been able to avoid the Pokemon Go phenomenon. Maybe you’ve had to dodge an even greater than normal number of cellphone-obsessed people on the street. You’ve also probably heard the news stories about players walking into light poles and trespassing on private property to capture those elusive digital monsters known as Pokemon.

When the augmented reality game officially launched in Canada on July 17, it immediately overloaded and crashed the app’s servers. And players are so engrossed in their Pokemon quest that police have issued warnings about playing the game while driving and urging users to play safe and be aware of their surroundings. The Toronto Zoo took to Twitter, and issued a media release, asking players to stay on the zoo’s designated paths and not cross barriers into wild animal enclosures where real live creatures might actually try to eat them.

Naturally, the Pokemon Go craze got me thinking about how B2B marketers try to capture that rare and elusive creature: the qualified, sales-ready buyer. In the game, Pokemon appear onscreen when users hold up their smartphones in various locations at various times of the day. Each Pokemon has its own personality and traits, and some are rarer and harder to find than others, which makes them highly sought-after – kind of like how marketers are challenged to find truly engaged buyers amongst the much more common casual researchers and tire kickers.

At any given time, your B2B buyers are all over the map when it comes to their state of sales readiness. Many don’t have those qualities that marketers are looking for, things like a purchase timeline, budget, fit, etc. While Pokemon Go’s tagline is “Gotta catch ‘em all,” savvy marketers try to be more selective and target prospects that are most likely to buy in order to avoid wasting the time and efforts of their sales team on people who just aren’t qualified.

What’s the difference between the buyer’s journey and Pokemon Go?
One’s fun, one’s not. In the game, you can place “lures” to attract Pokemon in order to catch them. Marketers do this too: we place our lures across different channels where we believe our target prospects like to spend their time in hopes of attracting them. We place display ads, content offers, emails, you name it, in our prospects’ path – all intended to lure them in and capture their attention. But then what? Are we holding on to our buyers or letting them get away before we can train them?

If we’re being honest, we put a lot of obstacles in our buyers’ path when they’re trying to self-educate. We place doors and gates that need special keys to open: landing pages and forms that require prospects to give us their information, register for that instant download, etc. before they can get what they want. It’s really not so different from the way Pokemon Go sends its users crashing into light posts and doors… Not so fun.

We also have a tendency to send our buyers wandering all over the internet looking for another elusive entity: the information they need to make the right purchase decision. It takes a lot of content to educate and qualify a B2B buyer, and as marketers, we don’t make it easy for buyers to find what they need. We hide our content in resource centers, we mark it as private property and gate it, we deliver it in drips when our most engaged buyers want it all right now.

Marketers need to cultivate an immediacy of engagement
People don’t play a few minutes of Pokemon Go, press pause and then wait a week to resume their game. Likewise, B2B prospects don’t read one eBook, white paper or case study and then wait patiently for another piece of content to show up in their inbox in a couple of weeks as part of a marketer’s regularly scheduled nurture stream. As Demand Gen Report writes in a recent report on redefining sales-readiness, “The idea that your buyer will wait until they receive your next nurture email or encounter your next ad to consume content has quickly become antiquated.” We need to do a better job of holding on to our buyers’ attention while we have it.

On the marketing side, this means we need to stop thinking in terms of fragmented, one-off content events and start thinking in terms of more meaningful and complete content journeys. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey, “93% of buyers recommend that marketers package related content together to make it easier to find all the information they need.”

On the sales side, it means seizing the moment and not making your engaged prospect wait for your follow-up once they’ve indicated their interest.

Stop Playing Games
The buyer’s journey of self-education doesn’t have to be a mythic quest and it shouldn’t consume so much of our busy (very busy!) buyers’ time and energy. B2B marketers need to raise their game and “level up” when it comes to how they deliver content experiences to their prospects and customers.

Most B2B purchasers pride themselves on their research skills, on wending their way across the length and breadth of the Internet to find the most relevant, meaningful information and opinions they can trust, but let’s face it, wouldn’t they rather be doing something else with their precious time and attention?

As marketers, we need to remember that our buyers didn’t choose to play this game. They really just want to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible with the minimum of fuss. If we’re going to accelerate the funnel, we need to make the process of buyer education as easy and frictionless as possible. If we can do that, we will have freed up some of our buyers’ time and, chances are, they’ll thank us for it. What will they do with all that free time? Well, that’s up to them! Perhaps they’ll spend it playing Pokemon Go, or just maybe they’ll schedule a demo to see what your product or service can do.