As much as I’d like to take credit for this post’s headline, I can’t.
All of the credit goes to Sean Geehan, author of his best-selling book, The B2B Executive Playbook. I recently finished re-reading Geehan’s book and once again found it a phenomenal, common-sense guide for not only B2B c-suite executives, but anyone at all levels of the B2B marketing spectrum.
Early on, the book clearly distinguishes the differences between B2B companies and their B2C counterparts and why B2B is such a vastly different game altogether. One particular approach in Chapter 2 was quite validating for me. Chapter 2 focuses on three “realities” that separate the B2B world from the B2C world.
The 3 Realities of B2B
Reality #1 is that the fate of a B2B company rests in the hands of relatively few customer customers (hint: expand your customer base to avoid the harsh reality of high revenue concentrations among only a few customers); Reality #2: the fate of a B2B company rests in the hands of just a few people (hint: all the more reason for forming strong connections with these people); and lastly, Reality #3: B2B companies rely upon the knowledge and acumen of customers. Hence, the headline for this post.
According to Geehan’s Playbook, B2B decision makers have knowledge extremely valuable to the companies selling to them. I couldn’t agree more. As an example, the Playbook cites GE Aviation, the world’s leading provider of jet engines. Its customers, which includes major airlines and the military, can provide expert guidance on all the jet engines they buy. They know how the design of an engine impacts thrust, range, payload, maintenance needs, FAA compliance, financial cost/payback, and so on.
The Playbook then continues to make this very important point:
In the B2B world, your customers may not be familiar with your offerings per se, but they usually know their industries better than those who supply it, and they know how to evaluate your solutions in light of their needs. They aren’t going to be swayed by marketing collateral; they will scrutinize, compare, benchmark, and test your offerings. And they will seek out expert advice from peers and third parties for references and validation.
So, as you evaluate the effectiveness of your B2B company’s own marketing strategies, ask yourself how involved are your current customers in the purchasing decisions of future customers? Suffice it to say that the two are inextricably linked, just as are all the components of a GE Aviation jet engine to ensure that it works properly.