This is the second in a series of articles planned on looking at buyer trends that will influence marketing and sales in the near and foreseeable future. This article looks at how understanding today’s conventional and social buyers takes BIG Insights versus BIG Data
Buyer Trend: Buyer Behavior Changing Rapidly and Buyers Are Saying – Get Me Please!
Evident over the past two years are monumental shifts that are occurring in buyer behavior. We’ve seen buyers entering the buying stages in unpredictable ways and deferring direct interactions further down the buying process. There have been generational differences noted between the rise of the younger social buyer as well as hybrid behaviors of traditional buyers. Buyers at first seemingly consuming information at a rabid thirst pace while other buyer groups demonstrating content fatigue and rejecting content outright.
Rather than rehash the mountain of information that can be found about what buyers are exhibiting, suffice to say that buyers are adapting, changing, evolving, and developing new processes along the way. We know, to a degree, what buyers are doing. And data-driven marketing and BIG data has become BIG business to tell us what buyers are doing.
In the past two plus years, we are seeing a rise in the analytical push and explosion in the wont for data. This is turning into a Catch-22 dilemma for C-Suite executives. While research can be found that data-driven companies do outperform non-data driven companies, the C-Suites in corporate worlds can be drowning in data and can never hear the still voice of their existing customers and prospective buyers. This dilemma is most certainly compounding the issue of unpredictability about buyers in the future.
What Must CEO’s, CMO’s, and CSO’s do?
There is no question that the C-Suite and perhaps in particular the CMO is under constant duress to figure out how to find the right mix of products, services, and experiences that make loyal customers and wins over prospective buyers. I suspect that on any given day of the week, a C-Suite member is pouring over the data explosion taking place and attempting to decipher what insight can be useful for predicting how buyers will behave and buy.
Here’s a problem we all know business has. When it comes to looking at the future – we just do a plain bad job at it. We’ve been trained, conditioned, brainwashed, whipped, and had the fear of the devil put in to us to rely on BIG data as a way of planning and predicting the future. And to some degree, analytics and data help us to find out what buyers are most likely to do in the future. But, is BIG data on its’ own a reliable measure of outcome? While I am not certain, I am willing to guess that the 80/20 rule applies here with 80% of the C-Suite not being able to give an affirmative yes to that question.
What the C-Suite needs to do is balance the equation on finding out how to predict as well as meet buyer goals. The C-Suite of the future will come to rely on BIG insights and see such interwoven into their strategy planning. By BIG insights I refer to the qualitative nature of research that gets to the most important questions of how and why buyers behave as they do to make purchase decisions. Giving us the BIG insights that can help us to plan for a future in ways buyers have yet to envision even for themselves. The C-Suite today must add BIG insight to the equation of being informed about buyers and making sound decisions that will put them on their existing customer’s and prospective buyer’s computer or tablet screen consistently.
The problem that has always plagued BIG data is that it is an analytical view of past results – it is rooted in a past-to-present orientation. And past results are important. I am not saying they are not. What I am saying is that buyer behavior is changing so rapidly that the C-Suite must balance out the equation to attain the deep understanding of buyers that is focused on future orientation. An equation that leads to BIG insights that also shapes the organization’s future relationships with existing customers and prospective buyers
In the present and in the future, C-Suite leaders will be called to lead their organizations in distinguishing between data that is factual in nature and insights which helps to inform decisions. This is where it gets tricky. The existing dialogue about BIG data uses language about insights – and to be sure there is insight to be had quantitatively. However, there are BIG insights to be had qualitatively that propel the organization forward into a future that they co-create with existing customers and prospective buyers. The C-Suite of the future will look at shifting resources to be more balanced between quantitative data and qualitative insights that are achieved through mixed qualitative investigative methods. The quest for deeper insights will grow as it becomes the path to finding ways to differentiate in a constantly changing social world.
What buyers are saying today is pretty simple. They are saying “you are not going to get me just on numbers and facts.” Buyers are evolving a new expectation. That is, they want you to "get" them qualitatively and they want you to “get” them in ways that will help them. What I’ve discovered through qualitatively research is that while today buyers want to self-direct their own buying processes and minimize sales involvement, they are future oriented towards committing to a relationship that will help them grow.
Are you ready to invest in the BIG insights that will guide your organization to exactly what that relationship is suppose to look like?
(Photo by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)