Over the course of the past few decades, B2B marketing has been perfecting the art of showcasing products or services. In the pre-Internet days, the focus was on the shiniest and brightest glossy brochure to make products or services look unbeatable. B2B companies resorted to showrooms and customer demonstration facilities. All in the hopes of making their products or services stand out from the pack. This is still happening today in the digital age.
Many of today’s B2B organizations still lead with the proverbial – “we are the leading provider of blah blah technology which enables companies to improve effectiveness and efficiencies as well as get a high return on their investment.” Where you begin can also determine where you end. Many companies still begin with the “leading provider” sentiment and it is a freefall from there to product-speak as well as business-speak oblivion. Websites and digital capabilities all designed to showcase products or services. These sites are replete with strong product imagery, product-speak, and business-speak.
The Shift To Human Experience
What is missing for companies still engaging in product-centric marketing is the connection to the human experience. For companies who have been in existence for several decades as a B2B organization, shifting away from product centricity is a radically new concept. While some have implemented content marketing efforts, they have done so to account for the new buying dynamics of researching and short-listing before direct sales interaction. However, an honest close look will find the content to be laden with product and business-speak.
What we are witnessing is a fundamental shift in how buyers and customers perceive experience. This is a shift I am witnessing from conducting qualitative direct interviews with customers and buyers over the last decade as part of my work in helping companies with buyer insights research and buyer personas. We are living in a new world of a digital economy, the digitization of all things, the consumerization of business, and higher expectations on the part of customers. All impacting not only how business customers make purchase decisions, but also a new element of emotional experience playing a greater role in why purchase decisions are made.
The Shift Is Hard
Making such a shift is very hard work. While it may sound easy or look easy on paper, it takes some doing. The shift to making the human experience the centerpiece of B2B marketing can be equally challenging for startups as well as companies with long histories. In either case, the product is or has been the centerpiece of their DNA.
One company who has been hard at work making this shift is GE. An organization rich in product innovation and technology, product-centric inertia is hard to halt and turn around. Here is a very powerful demonstration of how GE is bringing the human experience into the DNA of an organization:
Making The Shift
This Imagination At Work series of commercials by GE incorporates five important ways for companies to consider when making human experiences the centerpiece of their B2B marketing. These being:
Get out from your product world and into humanity. As this commercial demonstrates, GE went beyond its product world and even its business customer base. They went and understood the human emotions and experiences they touched.
Have human experiences serve as the foundation of compelling stories. Without understanding the human experience, companies are left to talk only about their products or services. Finding the human experiences means you will understand the compelling stories – naturally.
Share human experiences with the world. What GE does here is simple. They share the human experience with the world. No doubt, creating tears and overwhelming emotions for those cancer patient survivors and loved ones touched.
Share the human experiences internally. I do not know about you, but watching the video brought a welling up of tears. Just imagine, or in GE language – re-imagine, how it must have felt to be an employee who interacted with the cancer survivors visiting. Undoubtedly, emotional and renewed meaning to what they do.
Fulfill the human experience promise. What GE boldly attempts with this human-centered approach, as well as with other GE Healthcare Re-Imagine commercials, is to take a courageous step in fulfilling a promise to enhance the outcome of the human experience for all who touch it.
Connecting To The Human Experience
The new digital world we live in today is reshaping the concept of how people interact with the world. Professional lives and personal lives often carrying the same emotions. What we can count on is continual changes forthcoming in how human experiences are defined.
B2B marketing success, in the near future, will hinge on the ability to understand and connect to the human experience. This is a new frontier for B2B. One, however, which cannot be left unexplored.