Yet Another Marketing Buzzword?

Every few years there is a new buzzword in B2B marketing. A few years ago it was “Inbound Marketing.” The inbound philosophy advocates publishing content through digital channels to entice qualified individuals to consume the content and enter the sales cycle. Then, there was “Account-Based Marketing.” The ABM approach advocates for targeting a predefined and limited set of companies and running campaigns to engage all individuals at these companies.

Now, we have “Buying Groups.” The philosophy of buying groups is to identify and engage a set of personas involved in making a purchasing decision. The common theme is that all these approaches are aimed at making marketers more deliberate about who they target and how they deliver their messages, with the goal to sell more and sell faster.

What the Heck Are Buying Groups?

The market for cruise vacations is a crowded one, yet Disney cruises seem to be able to command a higher price, even though Disney is widely considered a brand for kids. Their targeting strategy is multi-pronged and when the marketing team at Disney sees initial interest from someone in a family, they send relevant messages to all members of the family who will be involved in making or influencing the decision to go on the cruise.

For example, one campaign involved sending ads to the kids of the family on their social media feeds highlighting fun activities. Additionally, the mother was sent content highlighting the spa on the ship, while the father got an email offering a discount. The Disney cruises team has a deep understanding of the group of personas that make the decision, and they target every one of them using channels and content that is specific to each of these personas.

This new way of thinking about people involved in making a purchasing decision is called buying groups. In simple terms, it is identifying and engaging everyone who will be involved in the buying decisions with the goal to get more and faster conversion through the funnel. According to SiriusDecisions, “B-to-b purchase decisions are rarely made by one person – multiple individuals are involved in a variety of buying scenarios that can exist within an organization. Key personas in a buying group have different buyer roles and may participate at different stages of the buying decision process. Understanding the buying group journey is crucial for creating marketing and sales strategies that work.”

How Do You Measure Success?

There are three key things to measure if you use buying groups to manage your marketing and sales process:

  • Coverage – do you have the relevant people identified for each persona and each product?
  • Engagement – are these people responding to your messages?
  • Progression – are they moving through the funnel so that they ultimately buy your product?

So, Where Do You Start?

While the theory around buying groups seems obvious and is starting to gain traction, sales and marketing systems have not caught up yet to enable or measure them effectively. Processes that enable mapping titles to personas, attaching personas to opportunities, etc are not automated. Defining these as well as implementing them is left to individual companies to do. Reporting is also difficult as there are multiple entities and objects involved in setting this process up. Additionally, the available out of the box reporting does not support building these complex reports.

A good place to start is to first identify key personas involved in the buying decision for each of your products. Next, make sure you have a way to map titles to personas and a data provider who can help fill out the missing information for your buying groups. Then, define the process that sales and marketing will follow to ensure buying groups are tied to specific opportunities. Lastly, make sure you have a way to measure progress and success using key metrics you define for your business.

Want to Learn More About Measuring Success with Buying Groups?

Join us for a live webinar with SiriusDecisions on Thursday, April 25th at 1pm ET or if you can’t join us live, be sure to catch the recording afterward!

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