The silos between people and organizations are being broken down by the Internet. Businesses are being more open and transparent in their daily lives too, allowing consumers and buyers visibility into areas they’ve not had access to before.
While more popular in the B2C world than in the B2B space, rethinking how you communicate with clients and your audience is essential for any B2B firm. Look at how buyer persona guru Tony Zambito called for “radical openness and transparency (in) B2B organizations.”
Help is here for B2B
Every executive should learn from Don Tapscott, one of the “world’s leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology.” He’s an author, speaker, thinker, Chancellor of Trent University, and founder of the Global Solution Networks program at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.
Several years ago, Don gave a TED Talk titled “Four Principles for the Open World”, where he talks about some important theories on openness and transparency in the business world. Take a listen for yourself and see what you think.
In his talk, Don outlines four main ideas to true openness in the world:
He gives examples of each, and how they apply to business decisions. When discussing collaboration, he mentions how the boundaries of organizations are becoming more porous, and how social media is creating a new means of production for business. He cites several examples:
The music industry pursued legal action against music downloaders and hopped on the digital music bandwagon far too late and suffered a catastrophic loss of revenue and reputation. IBM on the other hand, embraced the idea of openness and gave away over $400M of software to the Linux open source community in 2000 to gain a multi-million dollar payoff in the future (and they just did it again in 2014.)
In the spirit of Don’s talk, here are three ways B2B businesses can develop their openness and transparency.
1- Become more collaborative internally to truly develop your external relationships
|“Collaboration is the idea that the boundaries of organizations are becoming more porous and fluid and open.” – Don Tapscott|
We reported recently about how a strong partnership between the CIO and CMO is leading to a tighter overall organization as everyone’s on the same page when it comes to internal and external growth, how budgets decrease, and overall collaboration increases by osmosis.
In turn, this affects your outward relationships as well, leading to bigger gains. In fact, an IBM Global C-Suite Study found that almost 60 percent of organizations are significantly influenced by their customers, and that 71 percent of the top organizations are outperforming their peers because of that close collaboration with customers.
2- Share more with your audience
|“Sharing means giving up assets, intellectual property.” – Don Tapscott|
Sharing good quality content is one of the main ideas behind content marketing, however in the B2B world we make readers jump through too many hoops to get it. We ask for 15 pieces of information before giving them access to beta version of our product. Our blog posts convey the same-old social media advice.
Instead, try giving away more of your content and only ask for information when it’s truly necessary. That’s not to say you should give it all away, however learn which is best given freely, and you’ll see your audience grow. Here’s a great flowchart from HubSpot that’ll help you make that choice.
3- Rethink how you communicate with your audience.
|“It’s the Age of Networked Intelligence.” – Don Tapscott|
As B2B audiences become more wedded to their technology and more sophisticated in their marketing tastes, marketers must evolve as well. Audiences have different expectations for content because they’re looking at it differently: on the go, in-between meetings, on smartphones and tablets, through social media platforms, and more. This is why content marketing has become so popular for many marketers, and why B2B executives are embracing it now too. It removes the wall between buyers and sellers, B2B marketers and their audience, and develops a path of open and honest dialogue between the two.
It’s a different marketing world out there
Technology and the idea of openness are changing the expectations of B2B buyers, and marketers must change with them in order to survive. Creating honest and open paths of communication, giving away information, and removing all barriers to collaboration both inside and outside your organization are some of the ways to do that. B2B buyers are demanding this type of change, and those that are willing to make the time and energy investment will reap the rewards.
Photo via YouTube screenshot
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