7 ways on how B2B companies can survive when digitalization strikes

Newspaper’s death today – B2B death tomorrow?

According to Google, B2B buyers today make 70 percent of their buying journey online – they only pick up their phone to place the order. That’s how the situation is today.

How do you think the customer’s journey will look in 3 or 5 years?

We speak ironically about the stupidity of the media companies who didn’t get the message in time. But the question now is how adaptive the B2B companies actually are. Once the digitalization hits the B2B companies with full force they will be stuck with salesmen that over a night have turned into the world’s most expensive order takers. At a worst case the same thing that happened to the media companies will also happen to a lot of B2B companies. Fewer customers, problems with profitability and firing the staff.

The B2B buyer is ready – not the companies

The first companies to understand that the customer will make the buying journey through digital devices were the B2C, which today has come a long way. However, the B2B companies are significantly behind – but strangely not the B2B buyer who’s more ready than ever. The conclusion is that the companies in the B2B sector that are fast to digitize will also be most successful. And those who doesn’t – will die.

”Companies in the B2B sector that are fast to digitize will also be most successful. And those who doesn’t – will die”

The advertising and marketing industry – the proof that digitalization is a tricky story

Even the advertising and marketing industry has a great lack of understanding what ”going digital” really means. Here you find a lot of great looking websites and killer payoffs. And some old bragging content on dead blogs that is more or less just rubbish for a B2B buyer. If someone should be interested in taking lead of the digitalization of the customer’s journey – it should be the marketing industry itself. Instead of bragging about their own excellence and what prizes they have won, they should use their platforms and channels to educate their customers to become better at marketing and communication. Isn’t what they do for a living!? The only conclusion we can settle out of this is that the digitalization of the customer’s journey is a really tricky story (obviously!).

Don’t give away sales to social media channels or booking sites

Today the B2C market has progressed relatively far, where a rapid digitization of services rather became a survival thing – than an exciting marketing strategy. What we can learn from B2C companies is that you should invest in building your own communication channels. In the long term it’s dangerous to rely on social media companies or booking sites. Because someday they will end up owning your customer. It’s a death trap for your business.

B2B-digitalisering

7 ways on how B2B companies can survive when digitalization strikes

1 ) Convert your customers to subscribers

A customer buys one or two times – a subscriber buys many times and have a different kind of loyalty to your brand. It is a big difference to approach the subscriber perspective instead of the traditional customer perspective. To create subscribers, you have to earn them. You have to constantly add value even when they don’t buy anything – otherwise they’ll leave you. Instead of giving your customer the ultimate customer experience you should give your subscribers the ultimate user experience.

”Instead of giving the ultimate customer experience you should give your subscribers the ultimate user experience.”

2 ) Stop selling and start educating – give them some real value!

Once you have chosen to see your customers as subscribers, you also agree to give them a lot of great value. You will no longer have to deal with the customers – from now you will deal with subscribers. Subscribers do not want constantly offers shoved in their face – instead they want to have lots of information, tips and advices that will help them in their daily life. Forget about corporate bullshit and focus on things that will help them for real. Then they will be loyal to your fanclub.

3 ) Don’t build your marketing on rented land

To build your entire business on channels that you do not own, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are unnecessary if you want to invest long term. If you did not know it: You don’t own your content or your contacts on your social media accounts. It’s Facebook, LinkedIn , Instagram and so on that own’s everything. If you choose to put your whole marketing and communications on LinkedIn or Facebook , what happens the day when all of your contacts end up behind a paywall? Poorer profitability and no control. The conclusion is : Obviously, you should use social channels where your subscribers hang out, but you should do it with the purpose of getting customers into your own channels. Use social channels to create the road to your own blogs, webinars and newsletters.

”Forget about corporate bullshit and focus on things that will help them for real.”

4 ) Create a marketing channel that you have control of

If you create your own channels for your subscribers you will own them completely. With a newsletter, you are not at the mercy of changing algorithms or increasing prices. In your own channel you do exactly as you want. But don’t go big at once – start with one channel and develop and refine it. The risk of failure is obviously greater the more channels you start parallelly. Your blog should be the home base for all your content – and it’s here you own your customers to 100 percent.

Examples of owned channels:
– Newsletters
– Webinars
– Podcasts

A great first action is to start sending your subscribers a relevant and great newsletter – continuously. Always think quality before quantity. Use your newsletter to send out specific information to selected people you think might be interested. Say that one person signs up on your webinar which is about B2B sales. A month later the same person signs up for your newsletter where you share different sale tips. And next month the very same person/subscriber start to follow you on social media. The more channels that your subscribers are members of – the higher probability that they buy your products or services.

5 ) If you want to increase leads from the website – chat with your visitors!

Within a few years, your subscribers will make their buying journey digital, without involving any seller. But that does not mean they do not want to contact you – it’s the contrary. The personal attention on the Web will obviously increase. How many subscribers do you think you loose today because they don’t bother to call or send you an email? The solution on this is to make yourself available on your website. Some companies – both B2B and B2C are already on the chat-train as Clas Ohlson, Linas Matkasse, Inspect vehicle inspections, Swedavia, Skanska and Netigate.

”What happens the day when all of your contacts end up behind a paywall? Who will own your customers?”

6 ) Collect the data and analyze it. What kind of value could you offer your subscribers?

It’s time that you get to know your subscribers for real (better than themselves). And I mean not only through in-depth interviews and surveys – but also by their behavior on your website and in your channels. Which of your subscribers are your most valuable readers of the newsletters and also took part in your recent webinar? Perhaps they are interested in another webinar?

7 ) Forget everything you learned about Kotler

Old knowledge is useless. Forget everything you learned about marketing. Most knowledge that is older than two years is unfortunately not worth so much. Protecting traditional ideas has never lead to any greater success (except for conservative politicians). Protectionist ideas and values in the corporate world is a great recipe for bankruptcy. But to throw away unprofitable habits are hard. Ask any newspaper.

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