Expertise and relevant experience now matter more than price and reputation.
The latter two still matter, of course, but according to a recent study by Hinge Marketing, the old twin pillars of professional services buyers’ decision-making — price and reputation — have been replaced by expertise and relevant experience.
That’s not to say that your B2B prospects are making decisions with a “hang the expense!” attitude, nor will they ignore any evidence they find of you being difficult to work with or in any way suspect. It’s just that they’re going to focus on expertise and experience first.
In other words, without expertise and relevant experience, nothing else matters, because you’re not making it onto the short list.
How to Make Your Case
So how do you state your case in a world where buyers are ever more eager to eliminate you before they’re even willing to have a conversation with you? You have to move that conversation from the phone or in-person meetings to your website and social media channels, as well as to other thought leadership channels, like trade show presentations and webinars.
Of course, the trick is that your prospects, like the rest of us, are inured to any empty marketing claims you might make. Everyone and everything today is award-winning, highly regarded and “the best,” not to mention new and improved …
That idea leads us back to the age-old marketing truth that showing is better than telling. Present your prospects with a library of content that demonstrates your expertise and relevant experience creates a much stronger case in your favor than merely telling them that you have that expertise and experience. White papers, case studies and articles outlining the work you’ve done are all helpful. Even more beneficial are the results you’ve achieved.
You also have to present that content in a way that meets your prospects’ needs. Which is to say, not the case stories of every project you’ve ever done. Just the case stories and articles about every project you’ve done in their industry. Or that address the business problem they need to solve.
How Good Information Architecture and a Good CMS Can Help
Because we can’t always know how a prospect will define content as relevant, we’ll want to make use of content hubs and landing pages. These gather the information related to a topic (or industry or problem to be solved) into a single page or section of the site. Your prospects land there and have all of the information they might want, right at their fingertips.
It’s important that your website architecture and content management system allow you to create these pages as the need arises and make it easy to use content wherever it’s needed, rather than asking you to recreate the same content more than once.
Telling the Marketing Story Your Audience Wants to Hear
It’s not enough to tell your story. You have to tailor your story to showcase the chapters that are most relevant to each segment of your audience.
Once you’ve convinced them that you have the experience and expertise to help them solve their problem, that’s when they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone to find out if your pricing fits their budget and if your approach and culture is simpatico with theirs.