Jun 20, 2011

B2B Needs to Catch Up to B2C in Social Media

B2B marketers have long had an advantage over our B2C counterparts. Decades before “voice of customer” (VOC) became a fashionable term and a critical success component, those in B2B had the benefit of a field sales force to capture customer feedback and to tweak our value proposition and messaging. B2C marketers on the other hand have generally always had the disadvantage of a channel that separated them from their customers [...]
And, while the economics of channel stuffing and pushing title to product sooner have been appealing, the world has changed.

With the rise of the Web and the advent of social media, the average consumer now has as much power and information as the professional purchasing agent had in the past. In the past, purchasing agents had scores of product catalogs that gave them expertise, the power of choice, and the competition to drive prices lower. Now, through the Web, anyone can have dozens of sourcing selections at their fingertips. And, with the rise of social shopping, those price choices are now coming complete with recommendations from trusted social networks.

With a centuries-old head start on customer connectivity via the direct channel, it is surprising that so many B2B marketers struggle to find connectivity with new media. This brings us to the conundrum: Why is it that, despite a historical schism between B2C marketers and consumers, they have been faster to embrace social media. A recent study showed that while 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook, B2C companies outpace B2B at a 67% acquisition rate through Facebook.

My point is that B2B companies have long had the advantage of direct connectivity with customers, and whether it is fear of the unknown or lack of sway in the B2B marketing department (e.g. to get through legal's concerns), many B2B concerns seem to be foregoing that direct customer connectivity online.

I wonder if anyone has seen any research that explains why B2B lags B2C? Beyond “legal’s concerns”, sales reps’ resistance to their firm’s e-business initiatives may cause the lag. I would think that best practices and trends for addressing the problem of "channel conflict" would be an interesting subject for more in-depth study. Via B2B