B2B marketers know that thought leadership is essential, especially when selling high-value solutions. Business buyers tune out most traditional marketing, but they are always looking for new ideas. If we can produce interesting and useful content, and use social media and other platforms to spread the good word, we at least have a chance of getting into the conversations that our customers and prospects actually want to have.
Solutions Marketing Latest Insight
In some ways, the concept of "productizing solutions" is an oxymoron. Many feel that, by definition, solutions require considerable customization when they are delivered to a customer. If it's too productized...well, then, it's not really a solution -- it's a commoditized offering that doesn't really address the business issues that a specific customer faces.
About a month ago, the good folks at the Outsourcing Institute asked me to contribute some "lessons" for services marketers based on their web-based reality show, The Transaction. No cash involved, but it sounded like an quick PR hit for me while helping out a great organization.
Pointing to common misunderstandings between business leaders and partners, on the one hand, and marketers and business developers on the other, about such basic terms as "return on investment," Lowe suggests that PS firms would be well served by investing some time in building common understanding.
There's little doubt any more that social media can play an important role in marketing B2B solutions. But exactly how that should happen is less clear. Although some solutions firms have engaged with social media for years now, many more are just beginning to take it seriously and explore what might work.
According to a recent ITSMA study of large technology and consulting firms:
- Only half of large B2B tech firms have an established program to monitor online conversations about their company.
- Only one third of the companies have identified internal subject matter experts and assigned them to engage with customers and others in online social conversations.
- Only half of the companies have a well organized process for disseminating content through social media channels.
With all due respect to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, not all people are created equal. While the Declaration powerfully focused on equal opportunities and rights, people are most certainly different in nearly every other aspect -- size, weight, color…right down to our ability to juggle or memorize the Periodic Table!
I'm pleased to announce the launch our new Point of View series.
Over the next several months, we'll release a series of short, research-based perspectives on how companies can improve performance in their solutions businesses.
Our first Point of View, Adjusting to the New Reality: Four Steps to Solutions Growth, is available now. It outlines four initiatives companies can take to accelerate solutions growth through the rest of 2009 while also repositioning their organizations for longer-term success.
Based on new research with our partner ITSMA, the Point of View highlights findings from a survey with more than 30 B2B solutions providers on four critical initiatives:
MediaPost, one of my favorite sources. launched a new blog recently, Engage: Gen Y, and the first few posts are already capturing my attention. Today's post suggested five simple rules for "snagging consumer 2.0" and they are well worth pondering even in the rarified air of high-end B2B solutions, where Gen Yers are still mostly consigned to support roles outside the orbits of purchase decision makers.
The rules are these:
- Authenticity Trumps Celebrity
While few of our clients have actually abandoned their B2B careers, they have had to work very hard to figure out how to manage a solutions business effectively. One important step that many of them have taken is establishing a solutions council. These councils are designed to ensure coordination and collaboration across business units and other intra-company boundaries so companies can build, market, and sell integrated solutions more effectively.
Rich Vancil, head of IDC's CMO Advisory Service, provided a great state of the tech marketing union this week at the IDC DIrections conference in Boston. It's not great, of course, with IDC projecting 10% marketing budget cuts for 2009 -- which pretty much validates what I've been hearing anecdotally from clients and other friends across the industry.