Loved the recent Mckinsey report ‘How B2B companies talk past their customers’. I posted about it last week but I just have to return to it. Not all the findings are obvious.
It seems most marketing messages (from the largest 90 global B2B brands) only correlate on one topic – the importance of a vendor having specialist expertise. The vendors thought it more important than the buying audience, but both did rate it. That’s as far as much agreement went. All this posturing about global reach, driving for innovation, corporate social responsibility, sustainability practices and promoting equal opportunities within its workforce – well, these apparently leave the buying audience largely cold.
Some of this is surprising – you might think that buyers want to feel morally good about their supplier choice. They do but not in the phrasing vendors use. Buyers want their suppliers to treat them, and society, in an open and honest manner. That was the clear number one. And they do want their suppliers to act responsibly throughout their supply-chain. ‘Transparency’ is good.
What was also interesting: brands thought that promoting low prices was an attribute. Buyers, conversely, didn’t think this contributed in any way to improving their brand image.
What Mckinsey also noted was the ‘herd mentality’ in each brand’s adoption of messaging. Few looked to establish their individuality, with IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative raised as a far-sighted exception. The majority repeated the messaging of their competitors – resulting in minimizing their differentiation. Surely not the original intention of their marketing.
As the report concludes, “even in the digital era, the actual personal interaction with the supplier’s sales reps was considered the single most influential factor – across touch points – (in the buyer’s impression of that brand).”
We come back to that age-old saying, at the end of the day “people buy from people.”
- McKinsey: Why Most B2B Marketing Messages Fail to Move the Customer (business2community.com)
- Report: B2B Marketing Messages Don’t Speak to Customers (cmswire.com)