Boston—Business buyers increasingly are influenced by their own consumer behaviors. To be effective, b-to-b marketers must adjust to a new “prosumer” mentality of business decision-makers, driven by Internet and social media ubiquity.
That message was delivered by Josh Stevens, VP-e-commerce at file transfer company YouSendIt, at the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference and expo here today.
“B2B marketers have an enormous opportunity to thread their messages within existing customer behaviors, particularly by leveraging the first consumer impulse to go to a search engine to answer a question or find a solution about how to get their job done,” Stevens said, at a session titled “The Consumerization of B2B Marketing.”
"By producing and placing relevant content online where professionals would think to look first—for example, in a peer community site—b2b marketers can break through to decision makers and end users and leverage the growing consumer behavior of ‘search-browse-buy,' " Stevens said.
Stevens cited five “consumerization” trends that are influencing b-to-b buying habits. They include the rise of the “freemium” model that offers free versions of primarily digital products, with premium upgrades available; search queries by prospects that often veer into ancillary areas of opportunity; the social interplay of peers that is tending to bypass the need for RFPs; the rise of mobile devices as a consumption model; and the convergence of branding and direct response marketing.
DMA: 2011 was dominated by keynotes and sessions detailing b-to-b's adaptation to social media marketing, with presentations by Biz Stone, founder of Twitter; Grady Burnett, VP-global sales and operation at Facebook; and Alan Moss, director-online sales at Google.
That focus was summed up in a final keynote today, “Marketing's Next Wave and Internet Trends.”
“The conversations I can have with someone on social media is nothing new, but now it's amplified,” said Amanda Nelson, manager-community content at social measurement company Radian6. “Companies need a shared social vision in place, with everybody on board with policies and guidelines.”
But social media has limits that must also be recognized, said Kevin Zellmer, VP-customer success at Hearsay Social.
“Of those people who visit a corporate fan page, 95% never return,” Zellmer said. “Marketers must look down the road about ways to drive fans elsewhere, to a store or site, and create engagement there.”
Next year, DMA:2012 will be held Oct. 13-18 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.