Sarah Helbig is the director of marketing and industry engagement at Modern Marketing Concepts in Binghamton, New York. Helbig’s career has spanned all aspects of building products marketing, leaving her with valuable channel understanding and industry insights. Based in Toledo, Ohio., Modern Marketing Concepts is a sales engagement company equipped to assist manufacturers and distributors in building products to further their market reach resulting in proven revenue increase. Visit mmcbuildingproducts.com.
If you are currently making time to browse LinkedIn, online publications and business emails, you will see an overwhelming volume of advice on how to improve your marketing approach: get better SEO, how to use social media, send better emails with more opens and more. Everyone has some advice or a strategy to offer. But until we understand why these changes are in demand, it can be difficult to prioritize making those commitments over the other daily business fires. The simple truth is that marketing is evolving because our audience is evolving. Decision makers are younger. There are more of them, and they have different opinions. So, what do you do about it? The following are three facts that should be informing your marketing approach today.
1. There is an average of 5.4 individuals involved in making a purchase
Multiple influencers and roles drive today’s marketing decisions. Relying on just one relationship is risky. To compete, you will need to properly build and structure a contact database. You need to be able to reach your targets effectively and track those communications at high volume. According to a Google Consumer Insights article, “while 64 percent of the C-suite employees have final sign off on a decision, so do almost a quarter (24 percent) of the non-C-suite employees. What’s more, it’s the latter that has the most influence; 81 percent of non-C-suiters have a say in purchase decisions.” More CEOs are adopting the strategy of hiring strong leaders to be on their team, and then empowering them to bring informed recommendations to the executive table for final approval. Consider applying this approach to help your marketing team make decisions that mean more to your business.
2. The average age of decision makers has decreased
These days, 18- to 34-year-olds account for almost half of the makeup of industry marketers. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article, 73 percent of millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are involved in the purchasing decisions of their companies. As recently as 2012, that percentage was more evenly distributed across age groups, but this evolved workforce now wants to absorb information differently than audiences in the past, who relied on informed relationships, suppliers stopping by in person and even printed materials. There is still a time and a place for all those communication tools, but today’s world is more virtual than ever, and it requires successful business leaders to be entirely mobile. This doesn’t mean hanging up the phones altogether. In fact, customer satisfaction by phone is low across all industries, but construction businesses are at the bottom, with only a 21-percent phone satisfaction rate. While phone-based sales and marketing services are on the rise, it is vital for them to be authentically attached to the company’s brand and background, in order to provide the confidence and guided support necessary to take a recommendation back to the executive panel, who will then make the final call.
3. Many clients go 60% of the way through a purchasing process before making decisions
Not only that, but clients are intentionally looking to block out your influence in the early stages of purchasing for a reason. Unless you have already created distinct loyalty with a client, they are looking for “product” first, not for your brand. What does your firm offer a new client? “About 71 percent of purchase decisions start on a generic query versus a specific brand.” Millennials are fiercely drawn to meaningful stories and emotional connections, creating an opportunity for manufacturers to build their brand loyalty around something important to their decision makers.
On one side of the spectrum, that could be playing to their desires for professional success with tools to engage, educate and properly connect with their own customers. On the other end of the spectrum, it may be a social cause, response to a natural disaster or identification with a philanthropic effort. If you don’t already know about Tom’s Shoes or Warby Parker, get to know those brands and the efforts they are making to connect with their customers. A recent study by Sacunas found that 80 percent of millennial marketers say that the environmental, social and philanthropic efforts of potential vendors are important factors in their consideration. They don’t stop thinking like millennials just because they are at work.
In the end, millennials are becoming a larger part of the workforce and the decision-making happening in the marketing space. The impact is that marketing decisions are becoming more like consumer-based decision making than ever. With technical products built to solve problems, it can be challenging to make the shift. However, construction firms who can connect millennials to the “why” story of their brand and products will cut through the commodity crowd and stand apart for the better.
Bring your customers the information they need to make smart, well-informed decisions, in a format they can access at their fingertips and the ability to have a deeper relationship when it’s convenient and necessary to do so. Do this, and you will drive loyal purchasers from considering your company to making a commitment at a pace that will leave your competitors in catch-up mode.