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B-to-B Marketing Is About Poetry, Not Algebra

Too few marketers lead companies that sell to other businesses.

Many strong business brands are but houses of cards held together by the rotting epoxy of long-standing personal relationships, secure distribution channels, and barely discernable differences in product features and functionality.

One company's supply chain efficiency is another company's loss of market share and profit margin.

There is magic and mystery in the conduct of human relations, more often worked out through our symbols and icons, our cultures (popular and historical), our literature and lore, our senses (particularly of humor), and our emotions.

Marketing communicators, good ones, do their good work in this realm of influence. Those who know how to persuade practice persuasion, and we are all persuaded by more than just lowest prices, bottom lines, and correct specifications.

As the human attention span shrinks to nanoseconds, is there any doubt that we must still find ways to gain it, fleeting as it may be?

As it is extended beyond the television screen, the radio receiver, and printed page, we will remain as challenged as ever to find ways to gain and divert attention so we can urge that attention through the buying cycle of our goods and services.

Rationality, stark as it may sometimes be, isn't always attention getting. We gain attention with the wink of the eye, the furtive glance, the curl of the smile, the alacrity of the wit, the flair of our apparel, and the tragedy and comedy of our stories. Business processes, enterprise systems, and metric obsession aren't going to change this at all.

The spur of rapid commoditization will give rise to tens of thousands of new business products and services in the years to come. Just as fast as this morning's value turns to this afternoon's commodity, the able marketer will be introducing new value that seeks to defy the hyper-rationalist's attempt to codify it. There will be new stories to be told, and exciting new ways to tell them. The truly future-focused business-to-business marketer need never worry about begging bread.

E-commerce deployed in Business-to-business (B2B) marketing

  Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce offers a range of practical benefits for companies, including increased efficiency, improved responsiveness to market shifts, reduced costs, and the maximization of profits. Such benefits are gleaned in several ways.

For one, e-commerce can rid a company of any number of stages of manual order placement and tracking.

Another is the ability to reach new suppliers, or at least old ones in new ways, so that the cost of merchandise is lower than what would have been paid otherwise. If these benefits seem abstract, consider that some large firms that only do a moderate amount of e-commerce with their suppliers have saved millions of dollars, and by some estimates, a few have already saved billions over time.

The "everything else" category, general B2B e-commerce, is really not an industry unto itself so much as it is a new territory being settled by a host of different industries.

In effect, it's merely an extension of those industries, often well established, into a new medium of transactions.

What might be more interesting to consider is how they go about setting up their e-commerce. To the extent they buy software or use the services of e-commerce-oriented providers, they are providing revenues to e-commerce firms. Otherwise they're simply conducting their usual line of business in a new way.

This is not to say what these firms do or don't do isn't important for the more narrowly defined B2B e-commerce industry. Quite the opposite, the route these firms take toward enabling electronic transactions has a dramatic effect on the fortunes of firms whose business it is to facilitate e-commerce.

In other words, if ordinary firms go it alone and develop their own e-commerce systems without using the software and services of specialists, it will diminish opportunities for specialist firms. On the other hand, if ordinary businesses use e-marketplaces and e-commerce software packages extensively, it will mean tremendous growth for firms specializing in e-commerce products and services.

Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce encompasses a curious mix of business models and activities.

There are four main categories of B2B activities: those who conduct some aspect of their normal line of work, whether it's manufacturing sprockets or providing astrological