In the last few years the world of sales, especially in terms of B2B business development, has been characterized by a large presence of digital marketing activities.
In the following article we would like to focus exactly on B2B world because what happened in B2C context is already history of the last decade and maybe of the past 20 years. Indeed, B2C has already developed digital trends a long time ago, whereas B2B was left behind and has recovered only in the last three or five years: at least this happened with the most advanced B2B companies.
With this being said, we would like to try to define the trends that will characterize the next three years and, with a great effort of imagination, we will also try to outline what could happen in five year time.
A brief premise
As previously mentioned, the world of B2B business development has certainly been inspired by the digital marketing trends that have developed in B2C in the last few years. B2B focused especially on themes such as web presence, social media presence, various kinds of ADV, online and offline interaction. B2B world is surely different from B2C and in the future development this could be the key to an ultimate definition of an independent way of growth. B2B could indeed grow with different dynamics compared to B2C, even with some common touchpoints still. Indeed, in the next future B2B could not only draw from B2C source, but also play its role and its position in terms of digital marketing and business development innovation.
New scenarios: from 2020 to 2023 and what could happen after 2025
Let’s now try to outline the future of the interaction between digital marketing and B2B business development. We will divide our considerations in two sections: what could happen from 2020 to 2023 and what could happen after 2025.
Digital marketing and B2B business development: from 2020 to 2023
As said in the introductive part of this post, the most advanced B2B companies of recent years have narrowed the gap that outdistanced them from B2C companies. In the next three years all the competitive entities could indeed be on the same pace and new applications for the integration of digital marketing, sales and production could arise. Let’s analyze these two possible scenarios in detail.
Digital conformity of all competitive entities
A necessary introduction to this scenario is to define what is meant by “competitive entity”. By competitive entity or company we mean an organization able to generate profit, which is technologically advanced and equipped with the right tools and people in order to play its game in the market: a company with a profitable business idea. It is surely a concise definition, but that describes those companies able to generate value for themselves and for their country. It is exactly these companies, which maybe are still underdeveloped in digital terms, that in the following years may recover ground and be at the same level of their competitors or of similar companies of other sectors. Therefore, these companies will reach the level of the organizations that we have previously described as advanced entities.
On the contrary, all those companies that are not part of these macro groups will be more likely to have a dark future. As a matter of fact, if we can define the most advanced companies as movers of change and the competitive entities as responsive to change, then we can affirm that all those organizations far from the just mentioned groups are destined to a though future because, quoting Charles Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Digital, intended as digital marketing in terms of B2B business development, will no longer be a competitive advantage as it has been in previous years, but it will be an essential tool and an integral part of every business.
Integration: the mission of the most advanced companies
We are going to make different considerations as regards those companies that already are highly advanced. In the last few years these organizations have been able to have (and to use) a digital presence and positioning that have allowed them to enhance their B2B business development. Their digital attitude has been a real competitive advantage even though, if the prediction of the previous paragraph should become reality, it will become only an arrow in their commercial quiver. An advanced company cannot let this happen: it is therefore necessary to find another competitive advantage arising from the digital world.
This advantage could be brought by integration. Here too, B2C could lead the way with its interactions between retail and digital marketing campaigns and, more in detail, native advertising intended as local campaigns. In this case B2C could then only lead the way and there will be only few touchpoints between B2C and B2B, while B2B could finally find its unique way connecting to the production. Whereas B2C can collect data on retail and digital interactions of its target with shops and native advertising, B2B will be able to collect data on productive units, machines and operators. These data could help to guide the decisions for the B2B business development in the choice of the new potential customers through the examination of scrap rates or marginality. Furthermore, if crossed and analyzed with production performance, the insights deriving from ADV campaigns, retail sales and data originating from the customers’ facilities could be helpful to guide the new strategies in terms of investments and technology. These are only two examples of what could be done with the complete mapping and integration of data in a B2B organization. We could find many other correlations among data, which could be different based on the industry: we therefore suggest to internally analyze your business in order to find out what information could guide the future if taken into consideration and carefully studied. The only limit is imagination.
2025 scenario: paradigm shift or “stabilization of future”?
Already today, in the most advanced companies, we no longer speak of differences in terms of online and offline: in five years this distinction will probably be obsolete. This could certainly be a fact, but the hardest challenge is to identify if in 5 years’ time a complete paradigm shift (or social shift as previously mentioned) could radically change our vision of the future or, on the contrary, if the next five years of technological development will simply lead to a “stabilization of the future”, which means a consolidation of the already in use practices and, simultaneously, to a normalization or standardization of the predicted scenarios in the previous paragraph. The most realistic scenario, or at least the easiest to imagine, would be the second one. Concepts and products such as IoT, smart home, automation, augmented reality, tools able to connect offline and online, like native ADV and AI automations, which for some aspects and for their real diffusion today seem so far from reality, will become ordinary tools in the future. This, at least, in the most advanced countries.
This could be a reliable forecast, or at least a shareable one. However, the future is uncertain and with the information we have today it is hard to foreseen a clear paradigm shift, as Thomas Kuhn would call it, or the coming of a Black Swan, to put it in the words of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Indeed, we do not know in which garage the new Google is dawning or in which room the new Amazon is taking shape. We only know they may arise.
Obviously this is an attempt to reflect on these subjects. An attempt to imagine the future, which may be very different from the one we tried to outline. A technological paradigm shift or, in more global terms, social or historical changes can modify an idea of future. This has only been an exercise aimed at reflection, in order to elaborate a vision able to blend with reality. A sort of daydream.
Indeed, to be able to dream is important because, as Eleanor Roosevelt used to say, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
For further information on how digital marketing could improve B2B business development, contact us by filling in the following form.