Editor's note: Based in Hoboken, N.J., Alex Xiaoguang Zhu is senior manager decision journey mapping at research company SKIM. Based in Atlanta, Janet Ziffer is senior marketing research manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional.
As manufacturers and retailers adapt to the new omnichannel ecosystem, B2B and B2C marketers are discovering they have more in common than ever before. The traditional sales funnel has been transformed into a web of multichannel interactions that influence and guide today’s path to purchase – whether the purchaser is a Baby Boomer procurement officer or a Millennial online shopper. While sales cycles can look very different, here’s how they’re more alike:
Despite having those factors in common, B2B marketers contend with some significant challenges that B2C marketers will never experience. But B2B marketers can take a page from B2C to adapt and succeed in a dynamic omnichannel marketplace using this four-step framework: ideation, reframe/prioritization, validation and activation.
B2B claims must address two distinct audiences: the buyer and the end user. Sometimes they are one and the same but often they are not. The task of marketers is to convince decision-makers and buyers that the product or service will benefit the end user, as well as fulfill their own needs and key performance indicators (KPIs). Sometimes those decision factors overlap; at times, they might even compete. The end user, of course, sees the product through the lens of practical features and benefits. Procurement agents see the big picture and are charged with more than meeting the functional needs of the user. They think about budgetary factors, sustainability goals, employee health and safety and the broader context of enterprise-wide procurement portfolios.
Procurement professionals have a unique relationship with the vendor organization that goes beyond the product itself such as logistics...