Marketing Strategy: Age of the Customer a New Era for B2B
Marketers who want to appeal to potential buyers in today’s environment need to be aware of a major development: we have now entered a new period in the buyer-customer dynamic. Welcome to the Age of the Customer.
That’s what many marketing experts have dubbed the current atmosphere, and we have to agree. Sellers enjoyed a nice run, as the so-called Age of the Seller is said to have lasted nearly 10,000 years. So perhaps it was inevitable that there would be a shift, as all good things must come to an end at some point. But this is no slight adjustment. Things have completely shifted to an entirely new state of equilibrium.
One major component in the buyer-seller relationship can be credited for this shift in the power balance. You can think of the dynamic between sellers and buyers as a three-part phenomenon. There’s the product, which has always been controlled by the seller. There’s the buying decision, which is made by the customer. The bridge that connected the two is information about the product, which traditionally was also controlled by the seller, for the most part.
In the past, customers would only know information about the product which the seller wanted them to know, and any negatives would quickly be eliminated or hidden. It was fairly easy for sellers to keep a firm handle on what information was available for the customer to access. This was particularly true in the B2B sector, where sellers traditionally were very careful about the information they provided, and how it was packaged. Many B2B companies tended to favor a more conservative approach to information-sharing.
Not surprisingly, customers are no longer dependent upon seller to provide information. Far from it, in fact. Everyone has easy access to a vast amount of information. And that includes your potential customers. They can not only learn a lot about a seller and their products, but they can also get feedback from other customers about their experiences with specific products and companies. And they can get this information at any time, from any location.
If knowledge is power, customers are now extremely powerful. As uncomfortable as it may be for sellers, customers can quickly research products and companies during the decision process, and the information they discover will often influence their buying decision.
For sellers, trying to fight this development will be frustrating and futile. Instead, savvy marketers will accept this change and find ways to use it to their advantage. Rather than viewing this as the end of the world, consider it an opportunity. You now have the unique ability to connect directly with large numbers of potential customers, in a personalized way like never before.
By using social media and other tech-enhanced tools, you can identify prospects early in the buying cycle, and make a connection with them while they are still undecided. (Social media, online industry association directories and other resources can also help you identify decision-makers in the industries you serve, perhaps before they even realize they need your services, which is a great chance to beat the competition to the punch.) This is a valuable chance to win them over and make a positive impression. In addition, you can use things like testimonials, reviews and industry honors or certifications prominently displayed on your website to establish trust and demonstrate value.
Yes, it does take time and effort. Wooing a customer today is generally much more work than it was in the past, now that customers have grown more selective. But those who don’t invest in establishing these connections and building relationships with customers will likely suffer negative consequences as a result.
Unsure how to navigate this new era in the B2B marketing landscape? KEO Marketing specializes in mastering the most up-to-date and innovate marketing tactics, and we can help you develop an effective marketing strategy for the Age of the Customer.
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With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.