Two years later, the CEB took that finding to the next step by looking at how to successfully navigate today's complicated procurement processes that are often filled with more and more stakeholders with divergent views. In an article on SAP's The Customer Edge website, "Business Value and Personal Value: A B2B Marketer's Guide," Schmidt—along with the CEB's Brent Adamson and Anna Bird—tell us the answer is personal value ... with a twist.
According to their research, the average group of decision makers is made up of 5.4 people. And even winning over one member to your solution isn't enough—fully half of those decision-makers surveyed weren't willing to publicly advocate for a solution, even if they were willing to buy it. The key to winning the business, then, is to move one or more of those members (what the CEB calls a “Mobilizer”) to action, willingly lobbying colleagues to make a decision in your favor.
Through my experiences and studies in Northwestern University's Medill IMC program, I've identified three core steps your company can take to get started down the personal path as a B2B brand:
- Find the Emotional Core: Even in a B2B environment, take the time to develop a compelling brand promise that goes beyond easily-leapfrogged feature differentiation to focus on the personal, resonant story.
- Tell Meaningful Stories: Personal brands aren’t told in taglines or clever magazine ads, but through powerful stories that illustrate the benefits your brand brings to the people who choose it. For example, think about the companies whose selection of Google Apps for Business didn’t just change their email client, but the whole way they communicated and talked about themselves as a business.
- Mobilize Your Mobilizers: Deliver those stories—and the values of your company—in ways that give the Mobilizers in your court ammunition even when you’re not in the room. Build active forums on your site where like-minded folks can share and learn about your company and the challenges and successes that make you the only smart choice.