3 items tagged "competitive intelligence"

  • B2B and B2C: Challenging the traditional paradigm

    We often - and quite rightly - talk about the very real distinctions between B2B and B2C markets, buyers and decisions. However, the traditional paradigm of ‘B2B as rational’ and ‘B2C as emotional’ is being challenged by an increasingly strong undercurrent of discussion about the thoughts, feelings and emotions of B2B buyers and decision makers as individuals – not just as representatives of the corporations they work for.

    A B2B buyer is not solely an agent of the business they work for, and they do not exist in a vacuum. They are a human being with emotions, preferences, and a life that exists outside of their workplace. And, outside of work, they are a consumer. It is inevitable that our expectations as B2B buyers are shaped, to some degree, by our experiences as consumers in the B2C world. Therefore, in addition to the space that is being carved out for the ‘human’ in B2B decision making, much can be gained by recognising the ‘consumer’ as an additional influence.

    The consumer, as I’m sure we can all recognise, is faced with an overwhelming choice of products and services; able to order for next day delivery, at the click of a button; familiar with the ‘personalities’ of our favourite brands through prolific social media presence. These three elements of the consumer experience – access to a wider than ever range of options, ability to quickly and easily acquire products, and exposure to a strong social media presence – are all relatively recent phenomena, but have become so prevalent that many of us can’t imagine our daily lives and purchasing experiences in any other way. As the bar has been continually raised by B2C companies in terms of the choice, access and exposure they offer – so too have our expectations as consumers risen exponentially. For many of us, these high expectations will be translated into our lives at work, influencing our expectations as buyers in a B2B context.

    In her article ‘Too Much Choice’, Eva Krockow uses the example of a coffee shop to illustrate the overwhelming amount of choice available to consumers – Starbucks, she says, offers a choice of 80,000 different drinks combinations. Disadvantages of such abundant options aside (decision paralysis, disappointment or self blame) freedom of choice and maximum product variety is still very much expected by consumers, due to the liberal belief that making our own decisions will lead to increased happiness and wellbeing. Taking into account the aforementioned importance of emotions in B2B buying, it makes sense that the same underlying motivation and desire for variety also applies here – particularly when buyers are used to this desire being met when they are operating as consumers, outside of work.

    Furthermore, in the consumer sphere, potential stress caused by an overload of choice is partially tackled through the use of numerous comparison and review services – usually websites – to aid the consumer in making a choice. These decision making aids are not always so readily available in B2B markets – mostly because, by definition, the target audience for products and services is much smaller. One particular area where we have noticed this in our own research is in the utilities sector. While it is very easy for consumers to compare a range of utilities offers from different suppliers on one web page, this is not always an option that is widely available to businesses. The utilities being sold are the same as in the consumer space, the suppliers are often the same, and B2B buyers are used to quick and easy comparison in their lives as consumers – it can therefore be disappointing when the expectations they have built up as consumers are not lived up to in their work interactions. The disconnect between the B2C experience and the B2B experience is apparent.

    Convenience – including next day, or even same day, delivery – may be the most important reason behind the rise in online sales. While experts tend to believe that physical shops will continue, the decline of the high street is difficult to ignore – in the first nine months of 2018, 1,000 retail businesses went into administration and 85,000 retail jobs disappeared from Britain’s high streets.

    B2B online sales are also on the rise, and are predicted to reach over $6.6 trillion globally by 2020. However, many B2B companies remain at least ten years behind where they should be in terms of digital transformation. While it’s true that running a B2B ecommerce channel is often more complex than for B2C – due to B2B’s higher value sales, wider range of payment methods, and complicated catalogues – B2B customers increasingly expect to be able to buy the products they need through multiple online channels, and for those products to be delivered more quickly than they ever have been before – just as they do in their lives as consumers. However, websites of B2B companies are often digital catalogues, containing product information but lacking the ability to actually make the purchase online. Features of successful B2B ecommerce websites include showing prices to signed-in customers who have individually negotiated terms, inclusion of a 24/7 online chat feature, and the ability for customers to save a custom order in order to easily repurchase it. Features like this allow the B2B buyer to replicate their quick and easy consumer experience when purchasing for their business, while the additional needs and challenges of B2B ecommerce are still accommodated.

    There has been a significant amount of commentary about the use of social media in B2B marketing, with a growing consensus that these channels do have a place within the strategies of B2B brands. There are numerous examples of B2C brands with successful social media strategies – one being the baking brand Greggs which has become known for its humorous Twitter feed, most recently handling the backlash to its newly-introduced vegan sausage roll. But it can be difficult for B2B companies to see a place for themselves in this playful landscape. Outside of LinkedIn, which is focussed specifically on business, many B2B companies have a relatively low social media profile. However, and especially considering the increased importance given to establishing emotional connections with B2B buyers, social media is important as it offers a forum for B2B companies to connect more closely and authentically with their target market. Examples of successful B2B social media campaigns include MarketStar’s ‘The Evolution of the “Zombie” Lead’, which uses graphics and storytelling to engage its Twitter followers. Storytelling on social media is one strategy allowing B2B brands to maintain their professional image, while engaging followers with interesting content that reflects the brand’s personality. The use of engaging visual content, particularly on image-based channels like Instagram, can also be very effective for B2B brands.

    The differences between B2C and B2B markets will always be important, but there is much to be gained from considering the similarities. All B2B decision makers have a not-so-secret double life as a consumer, and it is inevitable that experiences enjoyed in the B2C world will shape expectations of what can be achieved in a B2B context.

    Author: Lorna Finlay

    Source: B2B international

  • Ken je concurrenten: het belang voor product managers en marketeers

    Schermafbeelding 2018 06 12 om 16.26.15Staand voor het Retail schap maakt de consument in recordtempo een veelheid aan afwegingen. Krijg ik waar voor mijn geld? Hoe is de prijs? Wat koop ik echt? Is het gezond? Hoe weet ik dat het ene product gezonder is dan het andere? Een complex samenspel van afwegingen dat leidt tot het wel óf niet plaatsen van het product in het winkelmandje. Dit fenomeen doet zich niet alleen voor in de supermarkt maar ook bij klanten in allerlei andere (online) verkoop omgevingen.

    Leveranciers ‘helpen’ de consument door op de verpakking te vertellen wat er in zit: bijvoorbeeld ‘vol met gezonde plantsterolen’ of ‘verlaagt de bloeddruk’. De klassieker ‘goed voor hart en bloedvaten’ is misschien wel de bekendste voedingsclaim aller tijden. 

    De klant lijkt met deze informatie geholpen. Lijkt! Want is dit ook echt zo? Natuurlijk, in eerste instantie wel. Maar als zij even langer doordenkt roept de marketing claim natuurlijk nieuwe vragen op (zoals informatie altijd leidt tot nieuwe vragen: dat is hèt kenmerk van informatieprocessen). Nieuwe vragen zijn: Hoe gezond zijn die sterolen nu eigenlijk? Hoeveel zitten er in de alternatieve producten die er niet over reppen? Wat doet een plantsterool voor mij? 

    Conclusie: Product gerelateerde informatieverstrekking via claims is al snel aan erosie onderhevig bij een steeds slimmer wordende consument. Dat betekent dat naarmate de tijd voortschrijdt steeds meer of specifiekere informatie moet worden toegevoegd. Daarmee worden data en informatie een intrinsiek onderdeel van het product!

    Deze ontwikkeling is natuurlijk prima voor de consument maar stelt nieuwe eisen aan de product manager en marketeer. Deze moet zorgen voor steeds specifiekere en valide productinformatie die aangeeft hoe het product zich onderscheidt van andere producten.

    Dit betekent dat de product manager de concurrentie zo goed moet kennen dat hij of zij op eigenschap- of ingrediënt niveau kan vertellen hoe het product zich onderscheidt van andere producten. Alleen dan kunnen slimme en valide claims worden gekozen en zo helder mogelijk aan de klant worden gecommuniceerd.

    In een markt die steeds kennisintensiever wordt, speelt competitive intelligence (CI) een steeds belangrijkere rol in product management en marketing communicatie. Operationele CI is effectief toe te passen in drie stappen.

    1. Data gedreven ontleden van concurrerende producten

    Het maken van slimme claims vereist dataverzameling over concurrerende producten. Langs voor de doelgroep relevante dimensies moeten concurrerende producten worden geïdentificeerd en in kaart worden gebracht om tot een adequate productvergelijking te komen. 

    Databeschikbaarheid maakt het inventariseren van producteigenschappen meer of minder makkelijk. Dit verschilt per product. Van levensmiddelen is vaak data beschikbaar via productdeclaraties die op de verpakking te vinden zijn. Daarnaast zijn er (vaak dure) databases waarin deze producten zijn terug te vinden. Niet voor ieder product zijn de eigenschappen eenvoudig te achterhalen. Soms zijn daar creatieve datacollectie methoden voor nodig. 

    2. Analyse van producteigenschappen op relevante dimensies

    Om tot zinvolle inzichten te komen moet de verzamelde data worden geïnterpreteerd langs voor de doelgroep relevante dimensies. In het voorbeeld van het levensmiddel kunnen deze dimensies bijvoorbeeld zijn ‘voorzien in energiebehoefte’, ‘mate van verzadiging’, ‘bijdrage aan spieropbouw’, ‘calorie rijkheid’, etc., etc. 

    Producten kunnen goed of minder goed op deze dimensies scoren. Voor diverse claims is het van belang te begrijpen hoe deze assen zich tot elkaar verhouden. Als een product claimt bij te dragen aan gewichtsvermindering is de as ‘rijkheid aan calorieën’ maar ook ‘mate van verzadiging’ van belang. De aanwezigheid van een bepaald ingrediënt kan op de ene as een hoge score opleveren terwijl het juist op de andere as tot een lagere score leidt. Om tot een valide claim te komen niet onbelangrijke informatie! Een sprekend voorbeeld is het ‘light’ product wat in zichzelf misschien wel ‘light’ is, maar tot weinig verzadiging leidt waardoor men daarna weer snel andere producten tot zich gaat nemen. Een voor de doelgroep relevante interpretatie van de verzamelde data staat in deze stap van operationele CI centraal. 

    3. Inzichten concreet maken door mogelijke acties te benoemen

    Tenslotte is de proof of de pudding natuurlijk in de eating. Welke claim kan legitiem en valide gemaakt worden? De met CI geproduceerde inzichten leveren in deze fase niet de formulering van de winnende claim op. De inzichten vertellen wel welke claims valide kunnen worden gemaakt, op welke scores de claims zijn gebaseerd en hoe het product zich qua scores verhoudt ten opzichte van de concurrerende producten. Behalve competitief inzicht en input voor marketing levert deze fase van de aanpak ook onderzoeksvragen op voor productontwikkeling en research. De productmanager of marketeer die een met CI opgebouwde kennisvoorsprong weet te behouden is in een kennisintensieve samenleving spekkoper.

    Auteur: Egbert Philips

    Bron: http://www.hammer-intel.com/nl/portfolio/

  • Why B2B marketers shouldn't neglect B2C data

    Why B2B marketers shouldn't neglect B2C data

    Companies don’t buy goods and services, people do. And people buy for emotional reasons first. So, understanding what motivates people to buy is at the heart of learning why and how they consume. If you are focusing solely on B2B data, then you’re missing a critical piece of the equation.

    In the “age of the customer” where customers are in control, B2B marketers need to understand their prospects in new, sophisticated ways. This requires utilizing data about your buyers at work, but also outside of work.

    Typically, B2B data focuses on role and firmographic information. While B2C data can reveal information providing clues to the emotional reasons and process your customers use when making buying decisions. By combining B2C and B2B data, marketers can develop more relevant content and experiences that meet individual buyer needs. This is proven to increase the ability to contact and engage B2B buyers.

    ‘Integrated’ customer journey

    Customers know when they are being targeted, and often they don’t like it. Let’s say you have an insect problem, and you mention it to a neighbor. Next day a pest control salesman shows up at your door. While it’s convenient that the product arrived right when you needed it, you are naturally skeptical. You feel targeted. Modern day targeting strategy must be natural and non-intrusive. And data-led insight and context is required to achieve that.

    Meeting B2B sales objectives requires thinking big picture, beyond the business, to consider what’s happening in your customer’s life. Real people shift personas and uniforms throughout their day. From 9-5, B2B buyers assume their work persona. From 5-9 they assume their home, friends, family, and general B2C persona. Despite these shifts they are all integrated. What motivates and inspires, but also what scares a customer is essentially the same across work and personal life personas.

    How and why someone buys a specific car, house, vacation or clothing brand is directly related to how a person will acquire a server, services, or consulting.

    Let’s say your customer is passionate about a certain sports car brand. This could indicate that they have a more adventurous and aggressive attitude, which often translates to the same attitude at work. These insights can help B2B marketers craft messaging and offers that connect with these attitudes and leverage them toward their product.

    Cybersecurity for example may not seem like an exciting topic, but marketing it in a clever way can show the more adventurous consumers (who also make B2B decisions) that it’s worthwhile. HP’s campaign of movie shorts parodying the TV show Mr. Robot starred Christian Slater educating people about the importance of cybersecurity. It was a bold move that brought a lot of attention.

    Combining B2B and B2C data attributes are key to understanding the emotional and philosophical nature of your customers. When this is accomplished, messaging and creative and entices buyers to act can be created.

    Data-driven marketing

    Modern customers interacting with a company through different channels (store, website, social media, app) want it to be personal. Marketers who accomplish this across platforms will increase loyalty and trust.

    Data about your costumers must inform what you do. It’s not about applying B2C techniques to B2B marketing. It’s about using more data to become a better, more relevant marketer.

    Combining predictive analytics and machine-learning models with the millions of B2B and B2C data attributes we can collect about prospects nowadays provides the tools to connect 1:1 on a human level. Even better, we can use this data to increase B2B marketer’s ability to expand their reach.

    Connecting with customers is more complicated than ever and reaching them in a modern omni-channel world can be challenging. If you’re a B2B marketer, the first step is to use data to create a 360 degree view of your customer. When you manage to do so, you can reach more buyers with more relevant content and messaging in more mediums.

    Steve Jobs was probably right with this quote: “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” Incorporating B2C data attributes in B2B marketing gets to the heart of understanding your customer, creating tailored customer experiences and reaching them in more relevant media. And that’s definitely a good thing to keep in mind as you strive to improve ROI.

    Author: Collin Dayley

    Source: Insidebigdata

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