B2B marketing specialists often make the mistake of focusing on the active components, i.e., those aspects of the process that they can control, which include but are not necessarily limited to:
creation and execution of selling tools such as web sites, brochures, flyers, events and social media
engaging in operational actions with key actual and target customers such as translation and analysis of data capture into marketing intelligence, identifying company visits, arranging conference calls, etc
calculating pricing and margin decisions for customer proposals
This is an oil tanker in itself – one that can despite what tactical marketing advocates say can take miles to stop or change course.
The goal of being so targeted on one’s own marketing initiatives is to be encouraged, but there is danger of losing focus on 2 key aspects:
what actual customers want – the ones to keep and grow where there is existing customer ownership
how are you going to actually win new customers if even they don’t know what they want
It seems that the only way to get an undertstanding of this side of the marketing coin is to better understand the B2B organisational buying behaviour that the B2B marketeer is confronted with:
organsational complexity in which the buyer operates
who is the buyer anyway? – who scans for technology, filters out, makes the buyer’s own marketing policies (“we’re all in a chain”)
A real life statement: “Hold on, we’re not buying yet, we are trying to understand our problem which in turn leads to a requirement – if indeed it’s a priority or it’s worth having in the end of the day. It could be that demand is saturated in this market segment.”
stop-go financial budgeting decisions with quarterly reporting in mind which can cause unexpected disruptions to the process
This key uncontrollable factor is not just one elongated decision process – it’s a series of small decisions and obstacles which at times appear to be unrelated to each other.
Ths customers’ oil tanker is being pulled by tugs – sometimes in different directions-
So the next step up in sophistication in B2B marketing in these unpredictable times is realising that the customer could be operating with poor visibility themselves.
What information relating to the customer’s end market would help them to help you?
What other factor would motivate them to convert problem recognition to a solution?
If your customer has a lack of visibility, how far can you see?
In times of flat demand in many markets, if you can address these issues, you may be not just winning markets, but creating them ahead of the competition.