Sunday, January 3, 2016

B2B Marketing: transitioning from Messaging to Dialogue

A customers needs supplier as much as a supplier needs customer. Yet, the process of discovering each other is fraught with pitfalls. Having experienced B2B buying cycle from both sides (supplier and customer), its insightful to see how the information asymmetry impacts the success of B2B marketing. The customer has the information of its needs(both explicit and implicit). Gaining this insight and closing the information asymmetry is key to the success of a B2B supplier/company. 

A B2B company instead relies on one-way messaging to customers and closes the information asymmetry other way around. In Push marketing stage, a company is busy advertising its offering and same messaging is carried over in Pull marketing when dealing with queries from customers. Emphasis is on expanding the media mix to include blogs, social media, conferences and others. But the nature and content doesn't change, often to maintain 'consistency' in marketing messages.

The way to gain information symmetry is to enter into a Dialogue with customer. To pick the brains of the customers, to seek their views, to brainstorm with them and to be genuinely interested in understanding their needs. Opportunities for dialogue can be created within push and pull marketing stages. For example, instead of highlighting product features at a conference, storytell a future vision and how is your company contributing to it. When customer reaches out with queries, try to meet him (not as salesman but) as a fellow professional to offer guidance. Rather than just posting messages, use social media to start a dialogue.

I would conclude by citing an outcome from McKinsey study on B2B companies. The top quality that is appreciated most by customers (700 global executives) is 'Cares about honest, open dialogue with its customers and society'. And surprisingly, the above quality was missing in brand messaging of surveyed B2B companies. 

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