Marketing to Independent and ‘Promiscuous’ Buyers

One of the major challenges facing enterprise marketers is to create and maintain meaningful engagement with potential buyers who are more self-sufficient than ever. The proliferation of communications channels and the widespread availability of information about almost every conceivable product and service have changed how both consumers and business buyers learn about products and services and make purchase decisions.

Today’s buyers exhibit two distinctive behaviors that create challenges for enterprise marketers. First, the buying process used by potential customers is less predictable than in the past. A recent survey of over 7,000 consumers by the Corporate Executive Board found that the traditional purchase funnel (which depicts a buying process in which consumers move from awareness to interest to desire to action, while narrowing their options along the way) no longer describes how most consumers actually buy.

According to the CEB survey:

  • Only about one third of consumers now use the traditional funnel approach when they evaluate potential purchases.
  • About 30% of consumers follow an open-ended purchase path. These consumers perform a lot of research, but the research is performed in a non-linear fashion. They obtain information from a wide variety of sources, and their brand preferences can change frequently.

The second distinctive characteristic of today’s buyers is that many are, well, promiscuous when it comes to consuming information. They will access information from a wide variety of sources and channels using numerous devices and platforms. Their only objective is to get the information they need or want at that moment. It doesn’t matter where the information originates (as long as they believe it’s trustworthy) or how the information is delivered.

Many younger consumers are also impatient. If they don’t find what they’re looking for easily and quickly, they’ll try somewhere else. A recent study by Time Inc. found that “Digital Natives” (individuals who have grown up using mobile technologies) move between devices and platforms 27 times per hour.

To connect with today’s buyers, brands must be able to deliver relevant and consistent marketing messages across multiple marketing channels, and they must be able to adjust messages quickly based on shifting buyer interests.

Meeting these demands is a major challenge for most large enterprises. Many large organizations have traditionally organized the marketing function by marketing channels. Channel-focused marketing teams usually worked independently, and they usually didn’t share detailed information about potential customers or marketing assets. This approach may have worked reasonably well in the past, but it doesn’t work well when potential buyers are demanding relevance and consistency across all engagement channels.

Technology also plays an important role in creating meaningful engagement with today’s buyers. As I wrote in an earlier post , research shows that many enterprises still rely on tactical, channel-centric technology solutions to support their marketing efforts. Such technologies make it more difficult to execute the holistic, coordinated, multi-channel marketing communications that today’s buyers expect. The solution, of course, is to use a suite of marketing technology applications that are fully integrated. These solutions (what we at ADAM call marketing execution platforms) will help your company connect effectively with today’s independent and “promiscuous” buyers.

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Author:Jan Dejosse

CMO - ADAM Software

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