The value b2b buyers place on what they buy is shifting from the single-lane, price-for-product road to what looks more like a multi-lane, multi-level, intermingled freeway. And they’re traveling in all the lanes at once.
The right lanes convey economic traffic. The middle lanes zip along on informational exchanges. And the passing lanes speed past carrying exchanges of emotional value.
In other words, you’ve got people changing lanes and moving across the “traffic” flow quicker than Mario Andretti on a pot of espresso. The interactions that all this movement between lanes initiates are new forms of economic value created by connectivity, speed, and intangibles.
Companies who used to simply provide goods and services are finding that the information content that they deliver to their customers as part of their offerings is the highest source of value added and often the driver of higher profit margins. The task of the business marketer is to make sure this total value package is communicated.
Wanted: b2b value propositions with heart
Like information, emotional value has always been around but generally subjugated to economic transactions. But now that customers and prospects control the purchase process, some business marketers are beginning to realize that their customers place real value on emotional intangibles such as loyalty, esteem, support, learning and engagement. And as a result, build emotional attributes into their customer value propositions. And brand promises. And work hard at integrating these values in brand communications.
As one CEO of a stat-obsessed mutual fund company has reported, “The most successful communications are relationship oriented and not hard-driving product ads.” On days when such communications run, the company receives hundreds of additional calls from investors.
Good b2b communications spread sap all over the highway
Emotional value doesn’t just come from conventional media. The good vibes around a brand lead to loyal repeat purchases. So, new paradigm marketers are learning to engage customers in a true give-and-take of emotional value without always beating them over the head with features, features and more features. Not that having the right features is wrong. They just need to be dished up at the right time and place.
This new world of B2B marketing will belong to companies that integrate the intangible things that customers value with products and services to form value offerings that they strongly brand. The Apple brand is a great example of this. And they almost own the world.
Marketing reading for life on the road
Photo credit: Flickr squeak2569