Brand New World: The Paradigm Shift in B2B Communications – Part I

Part I:  New Value Chains are Altering the Role Allocation

 The Business world is firmly focusing on digital transformation. Companies are feverishly assessing and reconsidering current revenue models, operational processes, customer engagement and marketing strategies. More and more companies wake up to the fact that every aspect of their corporate interactions is increasingly dragged into the digital sphere and that an entirely new ecosystem is evolving. By 2020, one million new devices will go online every hour. As a consequence the digital experience has become a new reality that creates disruptions as well as significantly more data. On executives it imposes constant innovation as a way of survival.

In the new digital world, 83 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research before they make a purchase. Four out of five customer purchases are starting online. And an estimated 60 percent of the journey to a buying decision is traveled before a supplier is even contacted. That forces brands to build an active and engaging online presence in order to raise awareness. Just buying some software and starting a blog doesn´t get you where you want to be – on top of the game. As a company you need a paradigm shift in B2B communications.

You need to align your strategy as effectively as possible with the numerous options and trends that are out there. They include a digital first concept, the emergence of new value chains, a transformation of the brand experience across all touch points, a digital marketing campaign with added focus on social media as well as the implementation of a stringent B2B data management. All these efforts and changes need to be supported by a digital first culture and constant training of the workforce. In the end it is all about making the best use of technology to connect with your customers. No question, you are facing a considerable challenge. Your own digital transformation takes place in a world that is running faster and becomes more complex. But the good news is, in B2B the pool of people you are dealing with is far smaller than in B2C.

New Value Chains are Altering the Role Allocation

In the new digital era production will be fragmented and decentralized. A 3D printer for example can turn any consumer into a producer who prints components for car manufacturers, gold necklaces for a jeweler, or parts for a TV set. But what does that mean for brands? Will a consumer called Michael print an Audi? Or will he print a “Michael” car based on an Audi design pattern? Will the traditional brand be visible on the outside? Or just on the inside? Or will it not be visible at all anymore?

This future with all its changes and uncertainties is nearer than most executives anticipate. 3D printers are becoming ever more powerful. They are mastering more complex tasks and materials. Printing artificial teeth, music instruments or prosthetics for disabled people is now a common task. Large chemical companies, as well as leaders in other industries, are establishing open platforms in order to expand the market for the materials they make. Audi has presented a miniature vehicle it printed using its metal printers. This all boils down to one simple fact: In the end you will not be marketing 2C or 2B but just to humans. Role allocations will be completely changed and new engagement strategies with customers become necessary. This means that services and experiences with the brand become even more important.

Conclusion: No matter how much the world turns digital, the customer always remains at the center of your efforts. It is all about his or her brand experience. Digitization is not an end in itself.

Coming Up in this five part series:

Part II:   Transforming the Brand Experience

Part III: The Digital Marketing Campaign

Part IV: Social Media and the Transformation of Communication

Part V:  B2B Data Management