Many are still in denial about this fact, but truly, it’s over.
I’ve been as close to b-to-b as anyone for 30 years; arguably one of the category’s most ardent and conspicuous champions. Of all the times I’ve been quoted, the conference addresses I have made and articles I have authored, none have ever evidenced more resonation than my declaration in Berlin last December of the demise of my life’s work.
Death was inevitable when people began carrying their telecommunications and computing power with them. From that point “The Firm” lost its place as the organizing principle of business marketing.
If we really want to influence business decisions, from now on we have to reach and persuade the real seat of power, the individual. The customer is not a corporate entity, but an independently minded, highly connected, always-emotional human being. This individual is not only ascendant, but empowered and amplified. Technology isn’t the only new thing that’s “on” them, so is unprecedented personal autonomy. Ninety percent of business decision making is emotional, and yet most b-to-b marketers remain mostly focused on organizational psychology.
The new arena for business communications is now far bigger than the workplace. This is because work is no longer a place, but a state of mind. The connectedness of modern life sees no boundaries between work and home. It’s all part of the work-life continuum. People can be as leaned-forward and as actively engaged in their decision-making as they need to be – wherever they happen to be. The very act of considered purchase has changed profoundly and permanently.
Our task in reaching, persuading and engaging business decision makers, and those who influence them, is to understand this “@ Work State of Mind” as completely and intimately as we can, so that we can ignite the emotions that cause decision-makers to shout, “Yes!”
I suggest that the clear and present evidence of lackluster ROI, brand irrelevance, new barriers to consideration, insufficient advocacy in the decision-making process and increased customer flight, alone or in aggregate, make my conceit worthy of serious reflection.
by Rick Segal
President Worldwide and Chief Practice Officer
Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network
You can follow Rick on Twitter @MrBtoB