In discussing the tangible benefits of advertising, management and marketing guru Ted Levitt once said that “advertising works because the familiar is safer than the unfamiliar.”
Solution providers invest in a variety of communications channels to ensure that their brand and value proposition is top of mind to industry decision-makers like you, especially when you have a defi ned and active purchasing need. Brand recognition in a product category would hopefully lead to a sales conversation, where an effective salesperson would espouse product knowledge, connect their solution to your need, and provide testimonials.
Today, with digital marketing and internet search as the catalyst, marketers have shifted a significant amount of traditional advertising dollars to education-based communications. Marketers are responding to a fundamental and important shift in the decision-making journey. The Corporate Executive Board reports an interesting research statistic that underscores this shift: “The average business-to-business (B2B) buyer is nearly 60% through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier’s representative.”
I do wonder how that 60% is calculated, but the general idea is proved out in practice. The touch of a personal conversation only happens when you need it, and access and availability to resources online absolutely delays that need. Digital content created and shared grows enormously every day. You are presented with seemingly endless opportunities to research, learn and develop buying criteria. And you access it on your time and terms.
Keeping up no easy chore
The familiarity that Ted Levitt talked about may very well still be important, but it’s the expertise, guidance, knowledge and insight that you can gain from solution providers that keeps them top of mind.
I heard entrepreneur Jason Fried say “All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences.” And audiences are built through providing real information of value, not product pitches and sales brochures.
Successful B2B salespeople have recognized this shift as well. The Rain Group, a sales consultancy, analyzed more than 700 business-to-business transactions representing $3.1 billion in purchases. The top two factors buyers stated that separated those that won business vs. the second-place finishers:
• The salesperson educated me on new ideas and perspectives
• The salesperson collaborated with me on solutions based on these ideas and perspectives
Success in our business as publishers and information providers has always been completely dependent on how well we satisfy the continuing education needs of our audience. If we continue to do that well, we will harness the emerging collective wisdom of those outside of our company walls as well.
Smart Industry is your partner in the progress to be gained through continuing education.
According to the Strategy + Business publication Redefining Management Education, “The truly successful managers and leaders of the next century will…be characterized not by how
they can access information, but by how they can access the most relevant information and differentiate it from exponentially multiplying masses of non-relevant information.”
The print issue of Smart Industry that you hold in your hands summarizes the many insights and perspectives shared at the Smart Industry 2016 conference. It’s a good example of our
evolving role in this new operating environment.
Tony D'Avino is publisher of Smart Industry