In developing a B2B strategy, it is often helpful and useful to understand the trends, unmet needs and segments of your B2B customer’s customer. Sharing these insights with your B2B customer will position your firm as an industry thought leader or expert—and will encourage your customers to think of your firm as a valuable partner.
Let’s look at a few examples of how this can work:
- B2B Bakery leader Dawn Foods conducted research to get at the segments and motivational drivers or need states for consumers who are purchasing baked goods at retail. This year, the Dawn team is focusing on the “Celebration” need state with an eye towards everyday celebrations such as winning games at little league baseball, child’s basketball, soccer or other sports. Dawn also encourages everyday celebrations for academic accomplishments (such as a spelling bee). As my co-author, Teri Lucie Thompson and I have written about in Tuning into Mom: Understanding America’s Most Powerful Consumer, moms (the customer’s customer for Dawn) are very engaged with their child’s education and sporting events, and Dawn’s “Celebration” program ties into those hot button areas, and demonstrates its expertise and thought leadership
- B2B agricultural leader AGCO supports its retailers with relevant social media tools, such as blog widgets, for the retailer’s end consumer (business farmers). This allows retailers to provide their customers with up-to-date information on equipment, along with other highly customer relevant information, like the weather. As AGCO customer Mitch Merz explains, he is able to tailor his offering to meet his end customers’ needs (older farmers who prefer not to check Facebook) by offering the videos and content on Merz’s website.
B2B telecom leader Alcatel Lucent has taken a step further in its thought leadership. Allison Cerra, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs at Alcatel-Lucent and co-author of Identity Shift and The Shift has written two thought-provoking books used by Alcatel Lucent’s management team in dialogs with their B2B customers about the future, trends and customer needs. The thing I find most engaging about this example is it focuses on future demand in addition to current needs, and pushes the dialog ahead.
These three examples illustrate three approaches: primary end-customer insights (Dawn Foods), sharing relevant end-customer updates and information (AGCO/Merz), and developing a thought leadership book or white paper on future trends (Alcatel Lucent). Other time-tested approaches include speaking at industry associations, chairing industry groups that address important issues and developing a panel or program with academic experts and/or opinion leaders.
So, what does your B2B firm know about your customer’s customer that your competition doesn’t know? What steps have you taken to share this knowledge with your customers?