Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or offline, you probably have seen this image, which is making the rounds on LinkedIn or in one of your other social media feeds:
Image courtesy Bryan Kramer.
Whether it’s a new idea or the dressing up of thoughts that have existed for a while in marketers’ minds, Bryan Kramer
has tapped into the social and viral nature of the modern, connected economy. He has stimulated a debate that gets to the very heart of delivering on customer needs and how consumers and business customers are intrinsically different. Or maybe they aren’t.
The difference between wants and needs
Is it really right to pronounce the death of segmented marketing?
As one commentator suggests in the discussion thread
on the original blog post, there is a difference. There is naturally more emotion involved in consumer buying when you are spending your own money. It is led by a want.
Business buyers are juggling many more requirements than a want and an association with a given brand. It’s more needs-based. Products and services must deliver a return, a hike in performance, a reduction in waste, and an improvement in efficiency.
Business buyers want to deliver value and be trusted with company money. When buying happens in a professional capacity, transparency, quality, and sustainability in supply chains become more important, and emotion fades in favor of more functional requirements.
There is a very clear need for segmentation based on differences in the buying process.
Business and people
Where Kramer is absolutely correct is that people do buy from other people. Trust leads to transactions, and marketing increasingly is about building a trust platform. Witness the rise of content marketing and the use of testimonials, case studies, and other evidence as credentials.
If there is an implication in Kramer’s theory that people don’t want to deal with brands, and particularly business brands, I disagree. When companies and brands—which are a tangible representation of “group-think”—organize themselves around customer needs and wants and present a human face, it can have a very powerful impact on their business.
We see scores of business-to-business companies where company advocates evangelize about the importance of human interaction. This is nothing new. Whether it is Michael Brenner
from SAP in the U.S. or Richard Robinson
from Google in the U.K., these are the public faces empowered by their businesses to connect with the business environment around them.
Pronouncing the death of B2B and B2C marketing in favor of a new “H2H” model is, the cynic in me thinks, more a provocative move designed to create fervor in both communities and to sell books.
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Have your say. Is Bryan right? Or should we adopt “human-to-human” principles but continue to segment by B2B and B2C buying-decision criteria?
René Power is agency principal and business development director at Barrett Dixon Bell (BDB), a B2B global marketing communications agency. A CIM Chartered Marketer, René writes for the BDB blog, Marketing Assassin, and Smart Insights. René has also authored Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing: Seven Steps to Success.