“Integrated marketing communications is a way of looking at the whole marketing process from the view point of the customer.” – Philip Kotler
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing has evolved from simply having good product collaterals to having a “story” to tell. It is now all about knowing – What to position, How to position, When, Where and Whom to position it to! The total approach is quite different from B2C marketing where the stakes are all about having the right “instincts” about the customer needs and the right “timing” and “channels”. In B2B marketing, we should already know our customers and what they want – if you don’t, your boss is probably finding a replacement for you! The key then is to come up with just the right value argumentation that works for that particular customer at that time! In that sense, B2B marketing is quite challenging as it requires a much more customized approach. For a particular customer – “cost” arguments would work and for another “quality” might be key. Hence the need to get smart about positioning in the evolved B2B marketing world!
So, what are the metrics for measuring success in a B2B marketing role – Is it just about getting new customers? The paradigm has evolved much here. The success is increasingly measured by how much upsell & cross-sell is enabled with existing customers through marketing programs, and how much more value is derived from each upsell. So, in the evolved B2B marketing context, marketers are measured by how much premium they can help the sales teams win through the right marketing messaging and positioning and how much more they can sell to the same customer. While new customer acquisition and brand management are still important metrics of success, the proudest cherry now belongs to those marketers who create leads to up-sell, cross-sell and sell profitably.
We all witness the outcomes of some inspiring B2C campaigns on a daily basis. The biggest similarity between a consumer marketing campaign and a B2B marketing campaign is focus on ‘Customer’. If there were a synonym for the word “marketing”, it would be “customer”. The fundamental difference however between B2B and B2C marketing is the level of direct customer relationship and the role of trust. B2C marketers on one hand are coming closer to their customers through social media and interactive marketing channels, B2B marketers on the other hand are evolving towards the “segment of one” – where they can nearly begin to look at each customer differently. Of course, not literally so, but the approach used to create these customer segments is aligned with the paradigm of farming existing customer base rather than only hunting for more. So, typically the customers who generate the maximum revenues find themselves as being treated almost exclusively from a marketing perspective. And the long tail of customers would then have lesser resourcing and funds available to be served. Another aspect is trust – and in the evolved B2B marketing landscape, trust has a higher role to play than ever. The marketing messages are increasingly based on “demonstrated trust” and proven results in the past rather than only on future unproven benefits. This means that B2B marketers increasingly need to be aware of the quality and performance of their products and solutions and of the experience of their customers. They also need to invest more in building trust through regular contact, valuable information sharing, honesty, and a level of personalization.
SC Note: If you are a Bootstrapped startup, then this post on Branding For Bootstrapped Startups by Xavier Prabhu is perfect for you: http://www.strategycentral.in/branding-for-bootstrapped-startups/
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