Posts Tagged b2b
This post is in reaction to an interesting blog from @econsultancy. If you read through it, though I don’t advocate the notion of attacking a competitor, you’ll likely find it common sense. But the thing about common sense is that its often rare in practice. How often do we really consider how our customers feel emotionally about their problems or our products in the B2B environment?
It seems to me we, as marketers, spend way too much time articulating features / benefits and not necessarily about what drives customers emotionally. Some key emotions that come to mind relevant to B2B –
1) Security and peace of mind
2) Fear of complexity (and a need for simplicity)
3) Fear of obsolescence
4) Disdain for the big, evil OEM or corporation (that could even be you)
5) Need to be top dog or seen as a thought leader (not necessarily as an organization but as an individual)
6) Fear of unpredictability, inconsistency or failure (not at the product level but as a team or organization)
7) Desire to be perceived as charitable or benevolent
Obviously not every customer in your world is going to share all (or even one) of these emotional needs (that’s where the segmentation comes in). But when it’s all said and done, hard as we try, people are irrational decision makers.
How often have you tried to rationalize a purchase that in your head you knew was irrational? We see it all the time in the consumer world – products and services become emotional extensions of ourselves and we rationalize in our heads why we need something that we really don’t. I refuse to believe the same can’t be said in B2B. Buyers are still people, and people are still irrational. There are just different emotions at play.
In my current role we are commercializing a new solution playing to some extent on #s 4, 5 and 6 from above. That said, we’re still in the early phases so I won’t try and convince you of my genius…yet. In the meantime I would love to hear about what others have seen or done to tackle emotional needs in B2B. I’m all ears, so what have you got?
I remember the first time I heard the term “B2B” – I was a senior in college. Any company that made the slightest reference to it was being touted as the next big thing. Looking back on it, I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about and before I had time to stop and think about it, the millennium came and went. Now here we are, 10 years later and I still hear people referring to it like there’s some mystifying secret to it.
Let me shed some light on the matter…
There is no esoteric meaning behind the term because there is no “B2B”. B2B IS DEAD! PEOPLE (not businesses) buy from other PEOPLE (not businesses). And while I don’t think anyone would openly dispute that, there are still those trying to market to businesses!!!
If you were a sales person, you might start with a business target in mind, but you don’t just walk up to the entrance and talk to the bricks on the building wall? So why as marketers would we target businesses?!?!
Don’t get me wrong, to engage in a conversation we need to start at the business level, but we also have to go deeper. There’s the question of who is the decision maker (VITO) that will ultimately decide whether or not to conduct business with you. And then there are your key influencers, who, being among VITO’s most trusted advisers might be someone who could influence on our behalf. This might be a person within the organization or it might be a particular external thought leader, but either way it’s about a person.
It’s about touching individuals – which means talking to them as individuals, NOT as businesses. Everyone has their own motivations, and just because something is good for the “business” doesn’t necessarily make it good for the individual.
So don’t be a B2B marketer. Be a “people” marketer and always keep in mind what’s in it for them!
As my involvement on this blog stems directly from my continuous commenting on this blog, the straw that broke the camel’s back, as it were, was Kris’ recent post on Thought Leadership and the Freemium Concept. And although the last thing I want this blog to be is Point/Counterpoint, I would like to build on a few points Kris made.
I’m pretty sure Kris and I are saying the same thing here … that at some point content isn’t the thing that you’re selling; at some point, content is the thing you give away to build the credibility it takes to sell the thing that makes you money (the "solution" in the "B2B solution organization" he mentioned).
Should iTunes be free? To that I’d say 2 things: first, iTunes is the "How," not the "What." Second, the music (the "What") is essentially free these days. Even a few short years ago we had to pay $12-$15 for the CD if you wanted 1-2 songs from an artist. Now we pay $1/track. The revenue from that content is shrinking at an alarming rate. The smart artists have figured out that the songs are the tools they use to lure people to concerts, to get them to buy DVDs, to get them licensing deals in movies and on TV shows. Moby, Sting, Dave Matthews … all of these are artists that understand the value of diversifying away from the canonical content. iTunes/Apple, for its part, essentially gives away the content for free (they take 30% of the tx, spending most of that on infrastructure and delivery costs), with the goal being to sell more iDevices.
Whether Netflix should be free is a slightly trickier question, mainly because they’re not the content producer, they are the content delivery mechanism. I’d go so far as to say that Netflix *has* made the content free; for one flat rate I get as many movies as I can watch (remember that Netflix streaming is no incremental payment and unlimited streams per month). While the major studios have clung to the idea of monitizing the actual movie (ticket sales, DVD sales), Netflix has essentially given away the content in an effort to make money on the delivery mechanism and the idea of "entertainment whenever wherever."
Contrast both those situations with the UK Times, where they are still stuck in the mindset that the content is the thing that’s going to make them money. Sure, the stated goal might be "readership," but there’s not much chance that ad revenue is going to make them any sort of real money. And now compare that to Bloomberg and WSJ, neither of which sell the content so much as up-to-the-minute access to the content. Subtle difference, but both the WSJ and BB are actually making money.
In his book "Free," Chris Anderson goes through exactly this sort of debate. As a matter of fact, when the book first came out, he gave it away, looking instead to make money on the lecture circuit. Jeff Jarvis discusses many of the same concepts in "What Would Google Do?" although he directs most of his analyses towards the Google products (another example of a company that gives away the content in favor of generating revenue through other means).
So I guess my point is that I completely agree with Kris’ closing paragraph and would add that, regardless of whether its B2B or B2C, The Change is already happening. Those that can recognize and admit that the change is happening can adjust and thrive; those that cling to old and outmoded business models will not fare as well.