Archive for the ‘Business To Business’ Category
If, like me, you are sitting in the UK, running a market research business on three different continents, it can feel like you have an average body temperature but it is made up of a foot in the fire and the foot in the fridge. The fire and the fridge are the markets of North America and China.
B2B International entered the US and Chinese markets six or seven years ago. Both countries are important to our organisation; as an international business-to-business market research company, we know that we have to have a foot in each camp. Indeed, we had being doing business in both countries for many years prior to this, but always remotely. We sent people from the UK or commissioned partners in the respective countries to carry out the interviewing. However, we knew that if we really meant business in these countries, we had to set down roots there.
These nations are surprisingly similar in physical size at 3.7 million square miles (nearly 6 times the size of the UK). In population, China wins hands down with 1.3 billion compared to 314 million in the USA. In economic terms, it is the US that dominates, with a GDP of $15 trillion per annum compared to $7.3 trillion for China. However, I am just playing with figures and the fact remains that both these countries are giants on the planet and forces to be reckoned with for market researchers.
Setting up a business in each country was relatively easy. We had to be a little careful as to how we defined our business in China because market research companies are looked at with some suspicion, if only because in theory they could carry out social and political studies, which are somewhat frowned upon. In our specialised niche of business-to-business market research this was not a problem. The US had no such restrictions and establishing a business required some form filling and administrative niceties but not much more.
Once we had a physical presence in each country we began to seriously address them as local markets, promoting our services as a supplier of b2b market research. It was at this time that we were struck by the huge differences between the countries. The USA is the home of market research. It began there in the early 1800s, and by the early 1900s the fledgling market research industry had started focusing on advertising testing in one form or another. The industry arrived on the European shores in the 1920s and 30s but it didn’t make it to China until around the year 2000. Not surprisingly, the US market for market research is many times bigger than that in China and much more mature.
The attitude to market research in the two countries could not be more different. In the established market of the US, where a large number of managers have a formal business education, it is accepted that major business decisions must be underpinned with objective data. It is not unusual for a relatively small US company with revenues of only $20 million per annum to commission a market survey costing $100,000. In China it is not unusual for a company with revenues of $2 billion to thumb its nose at spending $20,000 on a market research project. No doubt Chinese companies will modify this view as they find they cannot compete on product and price alone. They will be forced to become more sophisticated in targeting their audiences and understanding them more fully. This may take a few years and in the meantime a good deal of the market research commissioned in China will be by Western companies wanting a deeper understanding of how they can build their businesses in that country.
The implementation of research in the US and China is very different. In China there is a gulf between the massive cities and the rural hinterland. People are not yet forthcoming with their views and opinions and, as a result, the answers to market researchers’ questions can sometimes be a little on the thin side. On the other hand, most Chinese people will still spare the market researcher the time of day in contrast to the US, where it is almost impossible nowadays to get anyone in a large company to answer their phone rather than let it ring through to a voice message.
Paul Hague, founder of B2B International
The B2B Barometer – the bi-annual ‘state of the nation’ survey for B2B marketers – has just launched its sixth wave, reporting client-side marketers and agencies are feeling positive about business over the coming year.
Backed by three years of historical data on B2B marketing, the survey collates the views of client and agency side marketers, and gives a bird’s eye view on what’s important in the world of B2B.
Results of this wave were surprisingly positive given the tough economic climate. A massive 80% of respondents interviewed (client and agency side) expressed confidence in their organisations’ outlook for the next 12 months – the highest figure ever recorded in the Barometer.
This confidence is being driven by positive performance over the last year as well as signs of life for the next six months, with 61% of agencies reporting rising revenues and 63% seeing more new business enquiries during the past 12 months. 48% of client-side marketers expect their B2B marketing budgets to rise in the next 12 months – only serving to spur on this positive feeling within the industry.
To see the full report please go to http://www.b2bbarometer.co.uk/
Figures from the B2B Barometer1 show that the economic situation for B2B marketers looks optimistic for the future:
Business optimism gradually returning amongst B2B marketers
On the client side:
Agencies are more optimistic, with four fifths (79%) anticipating that they will grow over the next 12 months. For many agencies this represents a significant turnaround in their fortunes; 45% report that revenues have declined in the last 12 months. For others it represents a continuation of an existing trend; 34% report growth in the last 12 months.
Newer media continue to increase share of wallet
Client-side marketers continue to allocate a significant proportion of their budgets to three channels; trade shows (16%), direct mail (13%) and email marketing (16%). ‘Newer’ media channels continue their rise and now account for 41% of total marketing spend (up from 39% last wave).
Increased focus on measuring ROMI
There is a noticeable trend towards measuring the Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)
Social media relevant …but B2B marketers lack understanding
Two trends have received extensive coverage in the B2B press in recent months:
The B2B Barometer sought to explore each area in some depth and has brought fact to an
For more information visit http://www.abba.co.uk/
Nick Hague this week delves into the world of social media to determine its relevance for B2B marketers.
When our IT Manager spoke to me back in 2005 about Web 2.0 and the way it was going to change not only how we did business at B2B International but also how we communicate to our customers, my eyes glazed over as I was lost in hi-tech babble.
However, I duly took a lot of what was said on board and we implemented our blog that has not only played a major role in our brand building and positioning but also has been a key element in our continued SEO push. Throughout the last 5 years we have concentrated our efforts on delivering new and fresh content with the end result now being a repository that holds a massive amount of information including podcasts, e-books, videos and white papers. However, that was then and this is now (back then there was no such things as tweeting).
With many businesses these days venturing into the ‘Wild West’ of social media, trying their hand at Twitter and creating a company profile on Facebook, I felt it worthwhile diving back into the world of social media to see if there are other learnings we B2B marketers can take from our consumer cousins.
Firstly I did some digging into the Twitter phenomenon to see if this truly was something for us to look into, since our main foray into the world of social media had principally been blogging. I found from a recent study with B2B marketers that Twitter didn’t transpire to be the groundbreaking trend that I had been led to believe. So much so that nearly a half of the 400 people surveyed stated they were dissatisfied with their return on tweets and four out of five couldn’t directly attribute any increase in revenue from their Twitter activity. ‘Hold on a minute’ I thought, ‘are these consumer marketers or B2B marketers?’ (After all, this was meant to be a study of B2B marketers.)
Do they not know that the sales cycle for B2B products is not instantaneous and is often a very long process involving numerous decision makers from financial and operative through to production and technical? When was the last time you spent $500,000 on a new software platform without some serious consideration from multiple parties? B2C marketing is all about ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ – just look at the number of celebrities that are using Twitter to bolster their waning status.
B2B marketing is very much more about a relationship lifecycle that numbers years, not months, but this is where I think B2B companies can take advantage of social media more so than consumer companies. Twitter is just part of the armoury at our disposal that contributes to building brand awareness and engaging in the many continuous touch-points we look to generate; we shouldn’t ignore the tried and tested methods of direct mail. By way of example, one of my colleagues recently received an e-mail from a previous client with whom we hadn’t done business for over 5 years but had continued to communicate with through a mixture of direct marketing:
Subject: direct mails from B2B Hi Paul, hope all is well. Just received this afternoon one of the almost legendary direct mails from B2B – unfortunately the Belgium team did not make it to South-Africa… Nevertheless, I hope to get in touch with you soon regarding picking up brand awareness survey again (that’s five years ago!) cheers w.
Subject: direct mails from B2B
Hi Paul, hope all is well.
Just received this afternoon one of the almost legendary direct mails from B2B – unfortunately the Belgium team did not make it to South-Africa…
Nevertheless, I hope to get in touch with you soon regarding picking up brand awareness survey again (that’s five years ago!)
It is true to say that, at the moment, social media is definitely still in its infancy when relating to B2C marketing, but I believe that social media usage within a B2B market can actually deliver greater rewards; especially because B2B marketers address a much smaller number of customers who spend larger amounts of money, and personal relationships are of much more importance than in B2C markets – we just need to be clever with it.
The first thing to understand is that social media for B2B markets is more about education, facilitating word of mouth referrals and driving traffic to your website as well as thought leadership, and therefore requires deeper layers of interaction. For example, concentrate on company blogs and communities rather than Facebook; place more effort on relationship marketing through Linkedin rather than Twittering away; and deliver useful, relevant podcasts rather than spouting lyrical about anything and everything on YouTube.
And that brings me to my final point on social media. On the same day last week, one of my colleagues sent through an amusing link to the BP spills coffee video on YouTube whilst a ‘loose friend’ on Facebook sent me a request to join the group ‘I hate BP’. The video is very funny and I recommend you search it out as it will definitely make you laugh. This then triggered me to view the ‘I hate BP’ page on Facebook and saw that 9,009 people had already joined this crusade. It made me realise the power of the internet and social media that can very quickly either work in your favour or dramatically against you, as in BP’s case.
How your business is perceived in the Web 2.0 world will affect your reputation and your ability to connect with customers, associates and potential customers (just look at the BP example). If you are a B2B company just about to take the plunge into the creation of your social media blog, first of all determine if you have or can produce enough relevant content for the media and customers to justify the development in the first place. Content is king!
Secondly, make sure it looks good. Branding, design and user experience matter when you are interacting with social media and the main objective is to deliver relevant information, quickly.
Finally, make sure it is up-to-date. Social media is the first step in content marketing. The value of the content lies in being able to aggregate information in one place that helps build search traffic while serving as a clearing house for information relevant to the media, customers and employees. For social media to have value you have to have more than news releases to post; you need other information such as images, video and social links that provide an added layer of information and perspective about the organisation. Remember, who wants to commission a company that can’t even manage an engaging, thought-provoking blog?
Nearly half of all respondents in last month’s ‘Twitter in B2B Marketing’ study were dissatisfied with their return on tweets, and four out of five could not directly attribute revenue to micro-blogging. Yet, the survey revealed a striking contrast between occasional and heavy Twitter users, with successful Twitter marketers not surprisingly being more optimistic about Twitter’s future and long-term potential. Another unsurprising revelation was the suggestion that those marketers who do manage to generate revenue via Twitter tend to be more active and commit more time to using the social media site.
Interestingly, although the survey was based on 387 responses, in fact 592 questionnaires were completed. More than 200 results (35%) were discounted because the respondents say they do not use Twitter for business purposes, presumably using it on a personal level only…
More about this study can be found by clicking here.