Will You Be the B2B Marketer of the Future?
Have you ever considered how astonishingly technology and society have both changed over the past 100 years? If begs the question: How rapidly will technology progress in the next 100 years? What will the world look like in 2117?
Regardless of whether your futuristic frame of reference is more “Star Trek” than “The Handmaid’s Tale,” here are some predictions on what B2B Marketing might look like in 100 years.
The Current State
According to Forrester analyst Andy Hoar, more and more B2B companies are adopting technologies and tactics used by B2C companies and e-commerce marketers. Expect significant growth in B2B e-commerce, which will reach $1.1 trillion by 2020 and total 12 percent of the total B2B market.
Buyers Will Have Complete Information
In 100 years, commercial transactions will probably take place online and be automated. Cash and currency as we know it will likely be completely transformed.
Similar to the “perfect markets” discussed in your finance and economics classes, those perfect markets will exist in commercial markets as well.
B2B buyers and B2C shoppers already have more information at their fingertips than ever before. They can compare pricing and products and try to find the perfect product for their needs. However, this access to information will become nearly ubiquitous in 100 years. As a result, the job of marketers will be to provide that perfect and complete information continuously, accurately and in a compelling manner.
When customers do have questions about products, their concerns will be answered by robots, chatbots and other artificial intelligence tools. Reviews will be available through video and near real-time and real-life methods.
In 100 years, there will no longer be any mass marketing. Every buyer will have a unique profile developed through machine learning, market research, marketing automation tools and regression analysis. The winners be those who can develop the best algorithms and use communications to their advantage.
Not only will B2B buyers behave more like B2C shoppers, they will behave like humans and not like businesses. For marketers, this means treating every buyer as an individual with unique preferences and buying habits. Using marketing automation and other tools to anticipate needs and place products/offers in front of business buyers will demonstrate the ability to provide a rare and needed service.
Try Before You Buy
B2B transactions are typically more valuable than B2C, with a higher average transaction amount and more complex requirements. Hence, business buyers of the future may require the ability to test and try products prior to purchase. This will assist in mitigating the risk of buying a product that could be costly for their businesses or cause delays in business operations.
Marketers can capitalize on this need by offering methods of allowing buyers to interact with products prior to purchase. First, buyers will be able to view 3D videos and imagery for any given product. The next level of interactivity could occur through augmented or virtual reality, where buyers can get a feel for the size, shape and benefits of a product. If the buyer still needs to ensure that a product will work with their existing environment, they can request 3D printing prototypes. Using these prototypes, they can ensure the product will work with an existing machine, fit in a required physical space or be configured for their needs.
Competition Will Be Stiff
With ubiquitous information access, what can marketers do to compete and differentiate?
Marketers may decide to take a page from the playbook of 100 years before. Commerce will still be about relationships. Maybe you, the marketer of the future, can use in-person relationship-building techniques to attract buyers to your products, meeting people where they are, in their moment of need.