Over the last couple of years B2B companies have undergone a significant change in marketing tactics. Businesses once traditionally known for being price orientated are ditching price-led marketing in favour of a value led strategy.
New research conducted by market research group B2B International reveals that customer retention and growing band awareness are increasing challenges for B2B businesses – and many are struggling to adapt to the pace of change.
The survey revealed that 58% of the 250 global B2B firms who undertook the research are focused on ‘value –marketing’ up from 39% in last year’s study.
Value marketing refers to an insight-driven approach to marketing whereby companies sell products and services based on the value they offer. Which means that as a value led B2B company, you might not be the cheapest on the market but you’re better at meeting different groups of customer needs. The increased focus on customer experience indicates the challenge B2B companies’ face in securing customer retention and subsequently building market share.
To be value led you must put the customer at the heart of the business, focusing on creating products and services based on customer needs. To be ‘in tune’ with customer needs, rather than guessing or assuming, you must ensure that the voice and opinions of the customer is central in the company strategy. Customers’ needs can’t be left to customer facing staff or departments; they must be discussed and considered at a higher, boardroom level.
Differentiation is often identified as the key to growth and as products and positions have become more commoditized, companies have found it tough to find their point of difference.
Using a value led strategy to differentiate aims at being viewed differently through the way in which customers, customer experiences and the representation of the brand at every point of contact are managed.
To differentiate yourself you need to engage with customers, which stretches beyond simply serving them efficiently and effectively. It involves tapping into their emotions, making them feel connected to the supplier and brand every time they interact with the company, where ever and however this takes place.
Adopting a value led strategy could also encourage differentiation by rethinking your companies approach to communications. Research suggests that journals and trade magazines are still the most popular communication channel used by 85% of B2B companies, followed by exhibitions (81%), LinkedIn (77%), Industry specific online communities (75%) and supplier websites (74%). After following others by investing heavily in social media, B2B’s are beginning to re-examine the value of traditional forms of communication. Especially as they realise that focusing all resources on social media or social media campaigns just isn’t appropriate for them. A B2B company may only have a few hundred customers or potential customers, and using social media to engage with that small amount might not be the most suitable, and may require a more traditional channel.
That doesn’t mean that social media isn’t key, it just means that traditional media shouldn’t be forgotten about either, it requires a balance that’s found through adopting a value led approach and listening to your audience.