The key fact to bear in mind when it comes to big ticket B2B purchases is that most people are not looking to buy on any given day as switching recruitment firms, law firms or accounting firms is a decision that is not taken lightly and therefore happens infrequently.
So if you are in one of these industries, should you give up and stop marketing? Absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite.
Understanding the 95:5 Rule
The 95:5 rule, set out by Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, is that most buyers of B2B services will buy every few years. This is why the 95:5 Rule advises you to market mostly to buyers who are not likely to buy from you today.
The 95:5 rule in B2B marketing suggests that 95% of your efforts should focus on educating, providing value, and building relationships, while only 5% should be dedicated to direct promotion. Unlike traditional marketing approaches that heavily emphasize self-promotion, the 95:5 rule prioritizes meeting the informational needs of your target audience as they work their way through the sales funnel.
To effectively implement the 95:5 rule, businesses should invest in creating thought leadership and educational content that addresses the pain points, challenges, and interests of their target market. By sharing valuable insights, industry trends, best practices, and actionable tips, you can position your business as a trusted resource and advisor for potential customers. This educational approach helps build credibility and establishes your brand as an expert in the field.
A recent report by GWI suggests that 36% of B2B purchasing decisions take 6 months from awareness, through consideration to conversion. In the meantime, it’s essential that you remain at the forefront of your buyer’s mind and continue to provide valuable insights to establish your credibility.
According to an article in Marketing Week by Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo from B2B Institute, the 95:5 rule is the gold standard of B2B marketing. They claim as a justification for always-on marketing that: “80% of companies switch business banks once every five years. That means over the next year, only 20% of companies are likely to be in-market.”
Mathew Sweezey extended this line of thinking further in The Context Marketing Revolution when he wrote, “Instead of trying to force change as we once did, by trying to get people’s attention and make them want something, context marketing harnesses and guides an existing desire, one that springs from the trigger.”
Therefore, the key objective of B2B marketing strategies is to get potential buyers to remember you when it’s time to make a purchase by building “memory links to your company, brand, or product in the minds of your potential future buyers.”
Thought Leadership and Building Trust
So exactly what kind of content should you be producing to educate, inform and entertain your audience?
Thought leadership takes many forms; and while the phrase may sound daunting, the content you create needn’t be so serious. You can create educational niche podcasts with a light and engaging tone; you can create eye-catching animated explainer videos to address client pain points or illustrate your successful case studies. You can rent a green screen production studio in Bangkok for the day and make a dozen creative videos or you can use your company’s unique brand identity to create fun infographics.
If you are reading this blog, you have a good idea of what we have in mind – but check out the below video which is part of an original series by Lexicon that takes a lighthearted look at business storytelling by applying lessons from pop culture.
Additionally, white papers are great long-form thought leadership which, if done properly, can give you all the resources you need for a full quarter of blog and social media content. What’s more, white papers are also great for lead generation and SEO when utilized properly.
Lexicon provides a good case study on the power of the 95:5 rule. My own personal LinkedIn account here is the most effective social media channel for Lexicon. I am connected with around 25,000 relevant contacts and each day of the week I am publishing original content designed to entertain, inform and educate our target audience on issues relating to digital marketing and storytelling.
We get a steady stream of enquiries from LinkedIn, Google and word of mouth as we’re consistent in our messaging over time and focus on providing helpful advice with the knowledge that spending 50,000 USD on an annual marketing plan is not something you do on a whim. In fact, it’s generally a decision made in Q4 of any financial year. So, we just try to help for the rest of the time – constantly showing our worth and experience along the way.
The key to success with all of your content is to have a solid sense of your audience’s anthropology. Who exactly are your target clients? What are the issues that you can resolve for them and what are the questions that they have about your business? This insight is to be used not only for content creation but also for ensuring that you are connecting with the right audience – either through your personal LinkedIn account management in Bangkok or through advertising.
Promotion with Purpose
While the majority of your marketing efforts should be focused on providing value, the remaining 5% can be used for direct promotion. However, even in this promotional aspect, it’s crucial to maintain a customer-centric approach. Instead of bombarding potential clients with sales pitches, highlight how your products or services can solve their specific problems or fulfill their needs. Tailor your messaging to resonate with their pain points and demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
Case studies are a perfect indirect way to discuss your services. And by showing specifically how you’ve solved similar problems for similar companies, it’ll be easy for potential clients to understand what you do and how you can help them.
You will need to build content calendars with different content pillars spread out across the week and case studies make up a great content pillar to go alongside your more social content such as videos, internal stories, and promotion of upcoming event management.
Measuring and Optimizing Results
To ensure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, it’s essential to measure and analyze the results. Monitor key metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates, lead generation, and conversion rates. Identify which educational content resonates the most with your audience and refine your strategy accordingly. Continuously optimize your approach based on feedback and data insights to maximize the impact of the 95:5 rule.
When it comes to calculating ROI, try to quantify the value. What do you charge for a single big ticket purchase? Perhaps for a major digital transformation consulting project, a new legal retainer, leading an M&A project or recruiting a new CEO for your client. Even a single one of these purchases is probably enough to justify an entire annual marketing budget, with plenty left over. Once you win a couple of clients for these projects you are looking at major multiples of return on investment.
That’s why it’s so important to build credibility all year round. Be there to be help and advise your audience, even when they’re not actively looking to purchase. Help them succeed, guide them with your thought leadership and when it’s procurement time, you’ll be sure to be part of the conversation. And if you need some help, there’s a particular B2B marketing agency in Bangkok that we like a lot.
Implementing the 95:5 rule in your B2B marketing strategy can transform the way you engage with your target audience. By focusing on education, value creation, and relationship building, you can establish trust, position your brand as a thought leader, and ultimately drive meaningful results. Embrace the power of educational content, engage with your audience, and purposefully promote your offerings to unlock the potential of the 95% of your target audience who will be ready to buy from you at some point.
About the Author
David Norcross is an award-winning LinkedIn marketing & Executive Branding expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry and over 20,000 followers on LinkedIn. He’s the founder and CEO of Lexicon as well as the Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand Marketing & Communications Committee.
Lexicon is an award-winning brand storytelling agency focusing on telling impactful stories for clients based in Thailand and South East Asia.