Thursday, November 21, 2013

Business to Business Marketers Talk Past Their Customers

The results of a new study by McKinsey indicate that business to business marketers focus their communications on messages which are irrelevant to their customers.

In fact, not only do B2B marketers tend to focus on irrelevant messages, they are also likely to ignore the points which their customers care about the most.

For example, two of the characteristics which customers most valued, "honest, open dialogue with its customers" and "specialist expertise" were least likely to be part of a B2B marketer's positioning. Marketers were likely to focus their communciations on "low prices", "sustainability", and "diversity", the three points that customers care about the least.

Based upon my experience, many B2B marketers do not fully understand the needs and motivations of their customers, instead seeing them as "buyers" who are concerned solely with prices or specs.

Every business product is delivered in a service wrapper. This wrapper, composed of pre-sale consultation, implementation advice, and problem resolution, allows the product to quickly fill the customers needs. B2B customers have greater expertise in the things they sell than the things they buy, and that's where their suppliers can add value.

Of course the sales representatives of B2B companies understand the importance of the service role in building sales and loyalty. It's up to the marketing team to comunicate their companies service capabilities long before the first sales call is made.

You can read the article or download a PDF at


Anonymous said...

McKinsey’s study is fascinating but not surprising. B2B marketers tend to regard honesty and openness as table- stakes attributes. If, indeed, this is recognized as axiomatic, then I suppose the prevailing attitude might be something like: My customers assume honesty and openness from their suppliers, so I’ll put my marketing money behind establishing a competitive edge by communicating a discernable point-of-difference.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see that as the market gets more competitive, B2B marketers are embracing their human side to stand out. Thanks for sharing. I have already referenced in several conversations.