In the 1960s, we blamed the generation gap for the differences between kids and adults in their views on cultural issues. Now, we have a business generation gap. Digital natives, raised on technology, video games, and the immediacy of the internet, have radically different views about work, communications, and their relationships with business peers.
This gap has made its way into the B2B technology services buying process. This year in ITSMA’s annual survey of IT services buyers
, we saw a big split between what we call traditional buyers and an emerging segment of B2B social buyers.
The rise of the B2B social buyer makes the life of marketers more complicated. You now have two different buyers, and you must market and sell to both of them. This has big implications for your marketing mix and budgeting.
Specifically, marketers must:
- Capture and hold buyers’ attention with relevant fact-based thought leadership (research, analyses, best practices, and benchmarks)
- Proactively bring them fresh ideas to advance their businesses
- Engage with them across multiple online and offline channels in a coordinated dialogue
- Collaborate with them (and your partner ecosystem) to solve their business problems
Selling to two different audiences means that marketers will need to focus a lot of attention in the coming years on understanding exactly who their companies are speaking to and how they want to be engaged with. An integrated on- and offline approach that focuses on gradually increasing relationship and intimacy will make the difference.