In our B2B marketing guidebook, Business-to-Business Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide, published by Penguin Random House, my co-author Mark Eardley and I note that the Internet has fundamentally changed behavior in the buying decision cycle, creating what we term the phenomenon of the self-sold customer.

The fourth and final article in this short series explores how to respond to digitally altered behavior in the buying cycle, deliver content to where it is most needed, and focus on the proven sales-generating power of SEO.

Altered Realities Demand Altered Responses

By empowering purchasers to conduct their own research online, the Web has created a "closed" environment—i.e., one isolated from pushy salespeople—where buying decision-makers are increasingly determining which vendors they want to procure from before the suppliers are even aware they're under consideration.

As Mark Eardley wrote in the second article in this series about the role of content in the buying decision cycle, the fundamentals rules of B2B marketing have not altered since the days of the famous McGraw-Hill advert, "The Man in the Chair."

Buyers continue to look for answers to key questions: They still want to assess market trends, validate their own needs, and establish the credibility of companies and the veracity of their claims about their products and services.

But instead of waiting for a salesman to come calling, they're finding answers by tapping at a keyboard and staring at a screen. Accordingly, it is imperative for businesses both to be visible online and to ensure they coherently present content that provides appropriate answers at each stage of the buying cycle.

The trend toward self-research has contributed to the explosive growth of content marketing: Companies spend 28% of their marketing budget on content marketing. Yet, much of content misses the mark: Just 30% say it delivers effective results.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Charlie Stewart

Charlie Stewart is CEO of Rogerwilco, a digital marketing agency best known for its expertise with Drupal, SEO, and content marketing. He is a co-author of Business to Business Marketing: A Step by Step Guide (Penguin Random House), which offers practical, real-world advice on how to make marketing make money.

LinkedIn: Charlie Stewart

Twitter: @CStewart_ZA