So What If Your Company’s Not Online?
So what? That’s my favorite question. And, to narrow it down a bit, so what am I doing writing this blog? Well, what I’ve noticed in the B2B world, with a particular emphasis in oil and gas, is that business decisions are being made and companies are not using the right tactics to influence those decisions.
Sales “Back Then”
To start, let’s take a few steps back. Ten to 15 years ago, how did people buy cars? Typically, the process started with the auto dealers and manufacturers buying ungodly amounts of advertising via TV, radio, billboards and newspapers. Their intent was to create some sort of emotion or problem within you the buyer so that you would say, “I do need that new car because I want people to see me as cool” or “I do need that new car so I can save so much more money on gas” or “I do need that new car so that I can finally get the girl of my dreams.”
And, it worked.
By constantly bombarding you with these messages over a variety of channels, consumers eventually said, “Okay, time to buy a new car.” A decade ago, the internet offered a much more limited scope of information for research. Therefore, your next step was to go into the dealer to learn more about the car so that you could make the right decision. Well, who do we meet there? We meet the dreaded car salesperson. The car salesperson 10 to 15 years ago held all the information about the features and pricing of the car. And, if s/he were to provide you with “fluffed” information—you would have no idea. In order for you to make the right decision, you were at the mercy of the salesperson.
Then and Now: The Shift in Sales Power
Fast-forward to today. The auto dealers and manufacturers are still spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising. But, what has changed? The decision making process. In today’s world, you hop on the internet and research everything there is to know on the cars you want to buy. You research the miles per gallon, variety of features/options, style and, most importantly, the price. Then, you print out a piece of paper or bring in your phone and hand it to the salesperson and say, “This is the car that I want with these features at this price. If you can’t deliver it I’ll go somewhere else or I’ll find a place to buy it online.” Today, you hold all the information and the car salesperson is at your mercy.
What Online Marketing Means for Businesses
The question then becomes: How does car buying behavior of consumers translate into buying behavior of B2B organizations? Here’s how: In ’07 and ’08, the economy took a deep dive. While this was happening, organizations decided to take a closer look at their expenditures to see where they could tighten their belts. Well, the staff tasked with achieving these results didn’t reach out to their vendors or sales contacts for help with cost restructuring. Instead, they self-diagnosed and made decisions internally by doing all their research online. They nixed the time and costs associated with dealing with middlemen, and still accomplished their end goal of cutting costs. This decision-making behavior naturally rolled over into the rest of their business life.
So many businesses are acting more like consumers in the way they gather information and make buying decisions. They are reading articles in World Oil, The American Oil & Gas Reporter and BIC…online. They are researching the various natural gas strategies…online. They are using a variety of tools to vet companies and the people within them…online.
So What? Why Does My Company Need Online Marketing
So back to my favorite question: so what? And, to narrow it down a bit, so what if your company is nowhere to be found online? So what if you are not creating new and relevant content for those wanting to learn more about you? So what if you’re not a part of how people are making decisions? So what do you think will happen to your bottom line?