In the midst of its own revolution, B2B marketing faces sweeping changes and an uncertain future.
It’s 2012 and B2B marketing teams are expected to deliver more from less in an increasingly time and resource-poor environment.
And the forces of digital, measurability, data, process re-engineering, changes in buyer behaviour and cut-through are all impacting, just as they are in B2C.
In fact, it is a pivotal time for B2B marketing, according to recent research exploring intentions and directions.
The ‘B2B Marketing Outlook Australia 2012’ Report [conducted by Green Hat in conjunction with the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) and the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI)],reveals the differences and similarities of B2B, and the unique challenges the discipline faces.
The digital revolution is one of these challenges. Like consumers, businesses are inundated with information and marketing messages. Fragmentation is common to both, with business clients splintering across different sources of information, of which there are many in the online world. Like the consumer, the business client is becoming smarter also, doing their own research online, resulting in exposure to marketing influences later in the purchase cycle than before.
B2B buyers are engaging in self-educating behaviour, which is forcing marketers to adapt from outbound, or push, marketing techniques, such as print advertising or direct mail, to inbound, or pull, techniques, like websites or blogging.
“Businesses must adapt to get found online and to subsequently engage and nurture those buyers who find you.” [Chris Fell, managing director of B2B marketing agency g2m Solutions]
Opinions are mixed over whether the digital revolution has had as big an impact on the B2B world as it has on B2C, with some pointing to mobile marketing, video and social media as tactics still to be utilised to their full potential and others highlighting the unique ways in which digital has changed buyer behaviour and the marketing process. What is certain is that the B2B discipline is undergoing a revolution of its own.
Buyer behaviour has changed, processes are being re-engineered and the search for the holy grail of measurement is ongoing. While analysis of B2B marketing cannot escape comparisons with B2C, these only make the unique challenges of B2B all the more clear and point to the fact that it is also a discipline undergoing a transformation.