07 November 2013
While some people assume that the new generation only affects B2C companies, the youth of today demands attention from B2B companies as well.
According to a new survey by ITSMA, more and more, the decision-makers in B2B sales are young (under 40) senior executives with clout. So how do you appeal to this new generation of buyers?
Every generation grows up with new technologies, and before too long new technologies become standard and commonplace. Then the younger generation becomes the older generation, new technologies become old, and the cycle repeats. If B2B companies want to stay ahead of the competition, it’s best to constantly assess how younger B2B buyers differ from past generations.
According to the ITSMA survey, a crucial trait of younger B2B buyers is that they are driven by content. Content just makes sense for younger buyers. This is the generation that has matured with the Internet, where the entire history of human knowledge is available at the tip of their fingers. Not only that, they have smartphones and tablets to take this virtual Library of Alexandria with them.
One impact of this emphasis on content, according to ITSMA, is a renewed trust in the B2B companies and solution providers themselves. With all this information in the palm of their hands, the younger generation of B2B buyers puts more emphasis on research. And one of the first places the buyers go for research is your website. The ITMSA survey describes the website as a primary source of information in the early buying stages. The B2B companies that most effectively capture the attention of this new breed of buyers have strong websites with compelling content. Younger executives not only prefer greater quantity of content, but the type of content they prefer is different as well. The younger generation spends less time at conferences and tradeshows, choosing instead to spend their time on the web. These professionals prefer blogs, videos, and digital magazines at higher percentages than their older counterparts. And in great numbers, they vastly prefer to hear about this content via email and social media channels.
A coherent content marketing strategy is the way to go for B2B companies interested in truly engaging with this generation of buyers. Content marketing isn’t just to placate the present customers; it’s an investment in the future. And content isn’t the only revolution. The trend of B2B buyers purchasing online is going up as well. eCommerce continues to grow as a crucial channel for these younger executives and IT professionals who make the decisions on B2B purchases. This is entirely logical when we consider the implication of growing up in a fast-speed broadband environment. If you’re not offering eCommerce to the new generation, other B2B companies are there to take your place.
No conversation about the rising tide of young executives would be complete without considering where they get this content and where they shop online. The answer, increasingly, is on their mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets continue to grow their installed bases. Customers, especially those that grew up with this technology, are comfortable using mobile to consume content and, more importantly, to shop. If you ensure that your content and eCommerce solution are optimized for mobile consumption, then you make it easy for all generations to visit you on the web, no matter how they want to access your site. B2B companies are learning what many B2C companies have already learned.
A whole new generation of consumers has been born and raised with the Internet. And the web ranks high when it comes to communication and commerce. This is true for young professionals, whether they’re buying for themselves or buying for their company. Nobody can predict the future, but we are able to look at trends. And B2B buyers are trending online.