Here’s an interesting data point: 82% of adults in the U.S. claim loyalty to a product brand. That loyalty can translate to market share pretty darn quickly. So how can a B2B company capture that kind of loyalty/market share selling such non-sexy items as laminate, conveyors or even paper? Build a great brand.

The fact is that these same people buy B2B products almost exactly the way they buy personal products.

True, B2B buying is team-based in most companies, so a loyal buyer has to use data, content and follow company procedures to convince their peers that their recommendation is the right one. Today, meeting those criteria are the ante’s of doing business. According to this Harvard Business Review article, ease of doing business, relationships and the brand value of the company are the elements of ‘value’ to a B2B buyer.

So, how do we determine brand value? Most marketers agree it’s a combination of content (what’s important to your customers), reputation (delivering on your promises), and peer review (trusted advisors). And as marketers we know that if you increase your customer engagement, then you increase brand loyalty, which increases sales. Customer engagement isn’t a magic bullet – it’s a hard slog of research, creating content, and P.O.P.E (produce once, publish everywhere) – but for those companies willing to invest the time, the rewards can last a very long time.

(or) Think you can ignore the Amazon Effect because you’re B2B? You can’t.

But you can compete and win.

Retailers are well aware of the Amazon Effect, but many B2B companies haven’t felt the impacts of these consumer buying habits shift. Yet.
We’re all consumers and Amazon has set a high bar. Recent research from B2B ecommerce analyst Andy Hoar suggests that this Amazon effect is having an increasing impact, exerting pressures on businesses to improve customer service and develop omnichannel options. He reveals that 92% of B2B buyers use Amazon to research and 82% actually make work purchases on Amazon.
That means that, like it or not, Amazon and the new perspective of anytime, anywhere buying will impact your sales efforts.
However, B2B companies can compete by delivering what Amazon can’t.
  • Content. B2B customers have an insatiable desire for high quality content. By providing intelligence and information, brands and manufacturers can create a significant point of differentiation.
  • Develop an omnichannel ordering experience. This means that on-lines sales, direct sales and customer service all speak the same language.
  • Think from your customer’s perspective. Be consultative.
  • Keep your large customer relationships tight. Larger companies value expertise, customer service and inventory management services.
  • Think about investing in a B2B web store. It’s a fast growing sales channel, it’s live 24/7 and it can be a significant driver of revenue and profits. Even content and webinars can be a sales item.

Focus on your value proposition and work to strengthen it. Don’t’ be afraid to be obsessive about your customer, be willing to learn, and invent your own future.

Brands are looking to AI to give them a competitive edge

Meet Watson. You remember him (or her?). Appeared on Jeopardy in 2011. Launched a commercial product in 2012. Had a conversation with Bob Dylan about music in 2015. And now? Meet Watson Advertising.
According to Adweek’s Marty Swant, a new division of IBM, Watson Advertising – encompassing data, media and technology services – will offer a suite of AI products for everything from data analysis and media planning to content creation and audience targeting.
Watson promises to kick start the era of cognitive advertising starting with these four units.
  • Use Watson’s neural networks to analyze data and score users on how likely they are to take action.
  • Use AI for real-time optimization of images and messaging
  • Watson Ads will create content, a service already used by several high-profile brands. Toyota used Watson ads to write copy based on tech and science fan’s interests.
  • AI powered media buying is used by several companies to increase ROI and lower advertising costs….by a lot!
But….and there is always a but, getting the right answers means asking the right questions. A process where humans are still the experts.