More Evidence that Marketing to Out-of-Market Prospects Really Matters

Source: WSJ Intelligence / B2B International

Last September, I wrote a post discussing why B2B marketers should not ignore “out of market” expectations. In short, my argument was as follows:

  • At any given time, the company’s most “appropriate” expectations are Not Engaged in an active buying process.
  • It is likely that many of these out-of-market forecasts will be “in-market” at some point in the future.
  • The traditional view is that the collection and evaluation of information all take place after An intentional purchase has begun.
  • But every day, business decision makers build impressions of companies, brands and products from advertisements, content resources, news reports, conversations with co-workers, friends, and other interactions.
  • When something leads to an intentional purchase, those cumulative impressions greatly influence the buying decision.
  • If marketers focus only on prospects in the market, they will miss the opportunity to influence the perceptions and preferences of potential future buyers and will likely miss future revenue growth opportunities.

WSJ/B2B International Survey

Last month, WSJ Intelligence, a research unit of The Wall Street Journal/Barron’s Group, and market research firm B2B International published survey results that provide strong evidence for the argument made in my September letter.

The Trust Your Decisions study was a survey of 1,601 business decision makers who had recently led or been involved in selecting a new vendor for their company. All survey respondents were at managerial level or above, and all were affiliated with companies with at least $250 million in annual revenue.

Survey respondents were located in the United States (50%), Europe (25%) and Asia (25%). The study evaluated four purchasing categories – technology, finance, professional services, and marketing/marketing services. The field survey was conducted from May 21 to June 29, 2021.

The study divided the customer journey into three phases – Advance decisionAnd Search, rate and filter, And Final decision. The results of the survey provide important insights into all three of these stages, but I will focus here on those that relate to Advance decision The stage.

Select the researchers Advance decision The stage is as, “…the time between the last time they chose a particular resource [purchase] category and upon occurrence of the “trigger” that prompted them to begin actively searching for and deciding on a new supplier. “So by definition, Advance decision The stage covers only potential customers who are outside the market.

This survey contained several “behavioral recall” questions about the recent purchase decision. In answering these questions, each survey participant was asked to consider which vendor was ultimately selected (the “winning vendor”) and which vendor was considered but not selected (the “losing vendor”). Respondents were also asked about their exposure to different types of marketing content and their impressions during the buying journey.

Main results

The results of the WSJ / B2B International study clearly show that the familiarity and emotional connections that exist in Advance decision Stage has a significant impact on purchasing decisions. Survey respondents were more than doubled (79% vs. 33%) to report that they were very familiar with the winning supplier vs. the losing seller Before Active purchase has begun.

Survey results also showed that in Advance decision At the stage, respondents had a higher level of pre-existing confidence (57% vs 37%) and confidence (52% vs 37%) in the winning vendor than in the losing vendor.

One of the more surprising findings of the WSJ/B2B International research was the small number of potential sellers that were included in the initial consideration given to most potential purchases. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said they usually recognize it Only two to four potential sellers In the first stage of the active buying process.

Finally, the WSJ/B2B International study revealed that at least one in five off-market buyers are consumers of various types of marketing content resources, including case studies (30%), videos (28%), and thought leadership/research (26%) and webinars (25%).


Taken together, these results clearly demonstrate the importance of marketing to all potential buyers, including those who are not actively in the market. They show that companies can gain a significant competitive advantage by running marketing programs designed to increase brand awareness (familiarity) and enhance buyer confidence and trust.

These types of marketing programs can influence the final buying decision, but just as important, they increase the odds of your company being included in the buyer’s initial consideration group. And as I wrote before, you should be invited to the party before you are asked to dance.

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