“There are no companies, only customers.”
Ever heard the phrase? In a nutshell, it means: regardless of how big or how small the buyer, a 10,000 employee branch or a single customer, you’re still dealing with a person on the other end of any transaction — an irrational, emotional human being whose decisions are as impactful to them as they are to you.
The principles of great Customer Experience aren’t exclusive to the average shopper. In that way, B2B and B2C marketing are more alike than different. It’s changing the way businesses look at their evolution, growth and mindset, and how they interact across all channels to really engage dynamically with their customers.
Think ‘Human 2 Human’
Gone is the idea that B2B was purely about facts and data, while B2C was the opposite — emotionally-driven and impulsive. Businesses are starting to adopt the mindset of the modern customer: high premiums on personal relationships, and on social values such as equality, inclusivity, and environmental consciousness.
Business clients are over traditional boilerplate solutions, instead looking for a personalized, humanized experience that factors in things like workplace culture or company ethos. It’s important for companies to embrace the fact that many brands now want other businesses to see them in the same light as its customers do.
It’s often remarked how much more informed today’s customers are — B2B clients, even more so. With artificial intelligence and big data at their disposal, businesses are equipped to know exactly what they want from their suppliers. Likewise, suppliers must take responsibility for knowing what their clients are after.
This means that communication between transacting companies is a back and forth dance, as both parties try to balance each other’s needs and demands while simultaneously brainstorming new, specific solutions — giving the added bonus of a richer learning experience for all involved.
4 Major Trends to Adapt into your B2B Strategy
These are some of the rising trends marketers and decision-makers should consider when developing their B2B strategy. If they sound familiar, it’s because they are. These same strategies are just as effective in a B2C context.
1. Utilize data to discern intent
Companies already use data to study customer experiences. Businesses are seeing the value in applying similar principles and techniques to discern what their clients want and need. Data allows sales teams to tailor their offers as narrowly as a specific person (preferably a decision maker) from the right company.
Solutions like AI-driven data models are among the best methodologies for pinpointing what motivates people to buy or churn, and make a worthy addition to any marketing strategy.
Not to mention, having all that key knowledge prepared beforehand gives you the first impression of a consummate professional. Most people form their first impression of you in about 7 seconds…so make them count.
2. Create personalized, stand-out branding
Companies need to make themselves more visible by creating unique content, intuitive visuals, and a strong overall presence across multiple channels, with an emphasis on multi-channel social media strategies tailored to each unique market segment.
A B2B study showed that generating brand awareness was the biggest priority among B2B marketers. The same study also pegged a deep understanding of brand position as a major priority. This means that B2B teams are taking a serious look at the core values of their organization, and using that to develop not only sales pitches, but also actionable value propositions and solutions that reflect those core tenets.
We harp on this so often it goes almost without saying, but it’s imperative that organizations deliver a consistent brand image, which demands close collaboration across all their departments, (sales, marketing, HR, etc.) to avoid the deadly expectation gap.
3. Account-based marketing
This is just another way of saying ‘personalized’ marketing. Instead of trying to attract as many clients as possible, many organizations are discovering that targeting specific companies may be a more efficient, cost-effective, and revenue-generating strategy. Adobe’s Marketo reported that 97% of B2B marketers using this account-based approach claim increased ROI as a result.
When it comes to actual sales presentations and pitches, many organizations are content to do all their business remotely. The value of a first impression can’t be understated, so old-fashioned cold calls simply won’t cut it anymore. Businesses don’t want to be asked what they want, they expect you to tell them, which means doing your homework (see #1).
4. Stepping up content marketing
As more organizations realize the impact of content marketing, companies face the challenge of delivering the holy grail that is timely and relevant original content. But even more powerful than that is ‘authentic’ marketing, where it’s just as important to inspire trust in your client as it is to inform them.
This means that organizations are now putting a steep premium on generating quality content that drives its message home rather than just churning out material as often as possible. Authentic content marketing will also better reflect and incorporate the company’s branding, as well as its overall strategy and growth goals.
Some Rules are made to be Broken
The rules of B2B are shifting. “It is not the strongest…that survives, nor the most intelligent…It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” So brands need to be more open-minded and receptive to experimenting to keep up with the speed of change.
Success depends on your company’s ability to adopt a mindset that sees all clients as mutual relationships, rather than numbers on a page or data points on a laptop screen. Data, metrics and analytics are immensely helpful tools, but they’re still no replacement for genuine human interaction and understanding.
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