B2B is dead; long live human to human â part 1 | DMA

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B2B is dead; long live human to human â part 1

If, like me, you class yourself as a B2B marketer, then I have some disturbing news…
It’s become apparent that what we do is about to become extinct or, at the very least, is going to have to change dramatically.

It was never meant to be this way.

On the first day of our marketing careers we got sorted into one of two groups. While the cool kids were designated business to consumer as their point of focus, we landed something far more interesting: business to business.

Straight up, we were furnished with a helpful way of labelling what we were going to do – one ‘business’ for the entity we’ll represent, and the other to describe the audience we’ll be targeting.

And then we got to work with intelligent brands, working in diverse and dynamic areas, targeting audiences that had an appreciation and appetite for our high level thinking.
Good job!

Or, not…

What actually happened is that we learnt to think, plan and communicate in a completely inauthentic, artificial way. A way dominated by business bullshit, and a way where professional tone is shorthand for a boring one, devoid of all emotion.

The problem with the B2B philosophy is just that, the ‘business’ and the ‘business’; it puts us in the mind-set that one business can actually talk to another. But businesses don’t ‘talk’ to one another. They’re not sentient. They don’t communicate. It’s the people within them that talk, communicate, and make decisions.

That’s why this isn’t actually about the extinction of B2B, but an absolutely necessary evolution.

The Corporate Executive Board gave us a well-used statistic:

  • 57% of the purchase process is complete before the buyer talks to a supplier

We’re in the age of the self-educated buyer – who will form an opinion on our business before even talking to anyone – and the old model of promotional marketing and solution selling isn’t going to do the job anymore.

The CEB then gave us this:

  • 86% of B2B buyers think that we are all selling the same stuff

That’s right, we’ve been commoditised, and there really isn’t any way for us to stand out; at least not if we stick to thinking in the same tried and tested way.

That’s why it’s the right time to reframe our thinking. And that’s where human to human comes in.

I’ll be following up this blog with my thoughts on the subject, and I’d welcome your views. How can B2B brands behave in a more human way? What does that actually mean? And what does it mean for the dinosaurs amongst us?

By DMA guest blogger Phil Borge, B2B Director, Threepipe

This blog first appeared on the Threepipe.co.uk website

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