The world of b2b communications is developing faster now than ever before, and is heavily influenced by changes in the consumer environment. Recently Ernst and Young revealed the top seven trends b2b marketers need to be aware of and respond to in their future communications. They are:
Co-creation / collaboration: we need to get customers engaged and buying into ideas from the very beginning and at a much deeper level. A prime example is Lego, to whom designers can pitch to develop the next Lego product, like the Lego camera.
Experiences beyond the product: thinking and acting more holistically. This trend has been sparked by a move towards an “ownerless society” where you pay for what you use, not what you own. Take printer manufacturers, for instance, who are becoming “managed print solutions providers,” taking responsibility for a whole process, commonly including competitor products.
Complexity to simplicity: fairly obviously, making people’s working lives easier. It requires a good understanding of the customer’s situation, limitations and opportunities, and the development of simple solutions with clear benefits.
Anticipating the customer: b2b marketers now need to know what customers require before they do. Top hotels lend guests umbrellas if they’re heading out of reception into the rain, or iPods if they appear to be heading out for a jog. And this one’s great: Interflora monitors Twitter and sometimes sends flowers to people having a bad day to cheer them up. Now THAT’S service!
Remote control: handing more control of purchase to customers. This started with price comparison websites and self-service checkouts at supermarkets. Expect it to become even more of a reality in business-to-business too.
Technical advances: making use of technologies like augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Think of the Pivo 2, Nissan’s concept car which features mood recognition. Some of these technologies are still in their infancy, but their use and value is set to boom
Twinsumers: facilitated especially by social media, customers are seeking opinions and recommendations from people and companies like themselves. The results can completely contradict or override the marketing messages put out by the company itself, so we must anticipate, initiate and take part in those discussions.