I have always been an outspoken proponent of quick adaptive strategies in B2B communications and this latest set of digital stats published by econsultancy seems to prove my point. Don’t bother about downloading the whole report, unless you want to go through the usual registration loops, but its key points are:
B2B is transforming, reflecting the B2C arena
B2B communicators can’t understand how to make the most of all the channels at their disposal
Almost half of those polled found it difficult to integrate their processes with today’s dynamic and responsive communication environments
There is enough on those three points to write several essays, but above all there is a lot there to keep in-house communicators (and B2B senior managers) fully awake at night too
for several months.
The first point is an obvious one. Many external strategic marketing consultants like myself have been telling in-house B2B professionals about the impending convergence between B2C and B2B for some time. The fast pace of change made it even more compelling and we told them that more focus had to be placed on people, rather than processes, as ultimately decisions were made by individuals and not robots. Yes, of course, no serious B2B purchase is ever based on impulse and the acquisition process can be very lengthy, but in the end there is always a human being who holds the pen that signs an order form, or enters the password that issues a payment.
I remember distinctly attempting to engage with some of my clients on this topic just to see their look of disbelief, as if I had been a lunatic, and to be told that all their customers really wanted was some nicer looking data sheets, or a new website that reflected their updated brand. Since they weren’t interested in online engagement they made the fatal mistake of assuming that their customers weren’t either. Well, that obviously doesn’t seem to be the case and the convergence of B2B and B2C is a tangible proof of this development.
The second point is a corollary of the first. Obviously, as many B2B managers have been unable to understand the paradigm shift that was unfolding in front of their very eyes they are now wondering around in shock trying to understand what all the fuss is about. In the circumstances acquiring an in-depth understanding of how these new channels could be used synergistically is an even greater challenge – a hard learning curve for many. I foresee lots of costly mistake, and many casualties along the way. The winners will be those with a more adaptive mind, non risk averse, greater imagination and in-depth understanding of their sales channels (how much serious market research, for example, do B2B companies carry out?).
The third point is a consequence of what several B2B companies have been doing for decades. Many have been research or manufacturing led. Huge resources have been poured on R&D or on improving internal processes, with only crumbs left for sales and marketing. As a results many of these organisation have grown with a tendency to look inwardly, developing their own bespoke technology and applications, which are now difficult, if not impossible, to integrate successfully within the rapidly evolving environment of dynamic and highly responsive cloud based applications.
Obviously not all B2B are like the examples mentioned. I also do believe that with some serious goodwill and, above all, an open mind this paradigm shift could be turned into an opportunity, but I see continued resistance in more traditional sectors. These will be the ones most affected by the forthcoming seismic shift and also those where most casualties will occur. In the end it has always been the same since the dawn of history, those organisms which have adapted to environmental changes have been able to move on and evolve. Dinosaurs were of course left behind – a warning also for those companies thinking that size alone can shield them from changes.
- Exploring the Behaviors and Attitudes of B2B Buyers (geobrava.wordpress.com)
- Top 3 Mistakes B2B Companies Need to Avoid in Social Media Marketing (business2community.com)
- B2b Marketing: 7 Things You Absolutely Need to Do! (alphaavant.wordpress.com)