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Marketing To the 95%

  • Azan 

Demand Generation is dead. To succeed in connecting with customers, you will need to think more about brand-relevant connection points – and multi-pronged strategies. Think omni-channel. 

Something that we have been telling our clients for years, is that only 5% of your target audience will actually be ready to buy when they interact with you as a brand. This number was based on a lot of research – much of it from the data we see when working on building funnels and conversion paths for our customers. How many opportunities pop up after your marketing leads are qualified by a real salesperson?

LinkedIn’s B2B institute recently published a paper around this concept. Calling it the 95 – 5 rule, the concept is the same – most B2B buyers are not in the market right now. LinkedIn breaks the number down even further, stating that “only 20% of business buyers are ‘in the market’ over the course of an entire year; something like 5% in a quarter – or put another way, 95% aren’t in the market.” 

On the flip side, most companies are launching lead-generation campaigns where the call to action is around “talking to sales” or “getting a free demo”. This type of CTA may appeal to the 5% immediately ready to make a purchase. But how do you stay top-of-mind with the other 95% of your audience so you’re the first one they think of when they’re ready to buy? 

The answer is simple: better, value-adding advertising. Offer value to your customers rather than asking them to take immediate action. Give them market insights, show them a new use case, allow them to download a case study to give them a different perspective on a common problem and how another company conquered it with your product or solution. Educate your audience, and deliver real value with your thought leadership.

In the business-to-consumer world, advertisements influence someone to make an immediate, rather than extensively considered, purchase. These are transactional relationships, generally with a single stakeholder. The buyer sees an ad for something like an energy drink or a video game and makes a purchase. Almost immediately. No meetings, no budgetary approval or contracts to negotiate, or process of scoping the solution and its return on investment. We cannot expect the same in business-to-business when 95% of our audience is not ready to buy, and 80% won’t be ready to buy this year? There are too many moving pieces when selling to other businesses. Is their current contract up for renewal? Are you submitting a proposal as part of a formal RFP process? Do you need to convince a technical end-user before the CFO can make a financial decision?

Take the long-view, and know your ceiling. There may be a massive total addressable market, but there is no such thing as an endless supply of buyers who are ready to buy now. Make sure you understand the target market you are going after, as well as how many people could be in the buying cycle. Size your efforts accordingly.

Impressions accumulate over time and help to build brand affinity, which is key to staying top of mind. Depending on the market size and your spend, it can take months or even years for the right prospect to get enough exposure to your messaging/content to add you to their mental short-list, which is where you want to be when they are ready to buy. For sustainable growth, you need to advertise to both people who are in the market right now and those who are not in the market, so when they are ready to make a purchase they are already familiar with your brand. 

To learn more about some of the brand and demand generation campaigns we have run for our clients, and how they build sustainable growth, contact us today.