Through an emphasis on the buyer experience, SAP marketing programs have become as innovative as SAP solutions. This shift in marketing focus is a response to two realities:
-Buyers are waiting longer than they used to before interacting with solution vendors about possible technology purchases, and it’s critical for marketing to proactively engage buyers earlier and during this extended “buyer-controlled phase.”
-Buyers are increasingly consuming digital information, resulting in the requirement to create and publish relevant and engaging content to meet buyer needs.
Understanding these two dimensions is critical to the business success of SAP, especially in light of the massive innovations in our technology offerings the past 24 months, including mobility, in-memory, and cloud.
As buyers are searching for solutions and information around these new technologies, they may not be turning to us—a trusted vendor—until much later in their decision process. Even worse, if buyers don’t know SAP offers these solutions, they won’t turn to us at all.
In either case, we need to have relevant information available to meet these information needs sooner in the purchase decision process, and this information may need to be packaged and syndicated in new ways to reach different buyers.
Consider this scenario: A department with a pain point around visualizing and using large data sets could easily snap in a cloud provider through an easy-to-engage vendor who meets this specific need after a short departmental-led decision process. Much of this decision process about whom to short list may have been informed by digitally available information, peer-set company stories, and relevant industry influencers with a point of view on technology solutions. In other words, information from everyone but the vendors.
In these cases, it is key for brands like SAP to follow a fourfold approach:
-Know our buyers’ information needs against a variety of current and future problems they may face.
-Amplify and syndicate content into relevant communication channels, with an emphasis on digital—some of which may be unnatural for the brand—untested, not tried and true, and harder to directly attribute ROMI.
-Support a customer-centric inbound program coupled with an outbound follow-up and nurture strategy to foster engagement and retain customers.
-Maniacally measure the effectiveness of a content-driven digital strategy and fine-tune against marketing objectives.
By focusing your marketing efforts on the buyer experience and the buyer’s information needs, your company is certain to be well positioned to take advantage of the buyer-controlled part of the journey and ensure your company is on the short list.
Sara Larsen is Senior Director of Digital Marketing at SAP.