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Are You Marketing to Buildings or People?

March 19, 2014 | By Rachel Young

For b-to-b marketers, understanding the buying needs of the target organization and its people is critical to developing effective messaging. SiriusDecisions’ b-to-b messaging echelons are a framework for developing value propositions around five common audience dimensions or echelons

The legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy coined the phrase “The assets go up and down in our elevator everyday” to express the value he placed on his staff. In the b-to-b world, this is a useful reminder that even though we are focused on the commerce conducted among businesses – it’s the people in the buildings, riding the elevators or taking the stairs whom we are marketing to.

For b-to-b marketers, understanding the buying needs of the target organization and its people is critical to developing effective messaging. SiriusDecisions’ b-to-b messaging echelons are a framework for developing value propositions around five common audience dimensions or echelons:

  • The first echelon is the market which can be segmented by industry vertical, sub-vertical or geography. This echelon requires b-to-b marketers to articulate the offering’s value to the market by addressing technological, environmental, regulations or macroeconomic trends.
  • The second echelon, the company, can be categorized by size (e.g., revenue, headcount), or strategic value. Marketers should understand the organizational business model, values and issues. This echelon is “Ogilvy’s building.”
  • Next we go inside the building and reach the third echelon, buying centers. These are the functions, committees and departments that hold the purchasing budget. It’s important to understand buying center goals around cost, value and risks.
  • The fourth echelon is the buyer persona. These are the types of human beings whom we need to connect with via our messaging and campaigns. They have business challenges that must be acknowledged and remedied by the offering. They also have professional and personal motivations that b-to-b marketers should address in order to make a strong connection.
  • Finally, the fifth echelon is the user persona. These are the types of people who use or consume the offering. They will respond to messages that explain how the offering facilitates their work activities and tasks. Although they may not be involved in the purchasing decision, they can be strong influencers when it comes to renewals.

Many of our b-to-b clients leverage the SiriusDecisions messaging echelons framework to articulate how an offering meets the unique needs of each dimension and segment of the buyer audience. This approach ensures that marketing efforts are relevant at the organizational level, but more importantly, that they resonate and connect on an individual level. After all, as David Ogilvy proffered, it’s the people who really matter.

Rachel Young

Rachel Young is a Senior Research Director of Portfolio Marketing at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 20 years of experience in product and solution marketing, demand generation and communications. Follow Rachel on Twitter at @rpyoung_.

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