By Lisa Nirell, a strategic growth and marketing expert, and the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®.
I just completed 12 months of travel, and I really enjoyed meeting with C-leve,l business-to-business (B2B) executives in Scandinavia, Canada, and every corner of the US. Thankfully, some companies are waking up from a two-year hibernation. Here are five compelling B2B business trends to watch them pursue in 2011.
- Forward-thinking CEOs will finally loosen their purse strings and invest in top-line growth. In 2010, US companies sat on more than US$1.8 trillion in cash reserves. Their investors are getting restless and want to see them innovate again. And you cannot lead your industry by just tweaking your balance sheet. That is so 2009. Now is the time to bolster your value proposition and give them a reason to invest with your firm.
- Interactions with your employees, shareholders and customers will need to be even more transparent.Think about your Web site, e-mail messages, tweets, and online posts. Are you being completely open and responsive about your strengths and weaknesses? If not, you can expect someone to do this for you. After five years of interacting with some savvy media moguls, even the brazen Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has improved in this area.
- Mobile technology will become more mainstream. “Smart phone” is an outdated term. Consider them as “smart devices.” They serve as e-wallets, instant-messaging consoles, geo-locators, portable entertainment centers … oh, and phones, too. These devices will force you to be even MORE clear, conversational and succinct to grab mobile eyeballs. Staging short messages over time versus crafting long e-mail messages will gain momentum (think multiple lessons, modules and themes over a period of days, weeks or months).
- More people will pay others to simplify their lives. The Web has caused people to feel overwhelmed by information. Aggregators will emerge the victors. Alltop and Ragan Communications’ Daily Headlines services are fine examples of effective data aggregation. I predict a surge in personal shoppers and concierge services designed for the masses.
- “Push marketing” is dead. Long live pull marketing.Take a long look at your online presence. Are you engaging your customers and community, or are you posting static pages? Push marketing happens when you spend time telling others why they should work with you. Pull marketing showcases key insights and lessons that will repeatedly draw your ideal customers to your community. Have you formed a customer advisory board yet? If you still rely primarily on your direct team members or impersonal online surveys for market input, you’re missing out on some major breakthroughs and customer-retention opportunities. Listen to my recent interview with Geehan Group’s founder, Sean Geehan, for more insights on the value of “gloves off” customer advisory boards.
The new year is bound to be an exciting year. Some of your competitors will wait for all of the economic indicators to align before they launch new innovations and pursue new markets (even though some economic indicators no longer tell the whole story). While they continue to wear blinders, what will you do to improve your line of sight?
Copyright 2011, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.
As the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®, Lisa helps B2B entrepreneurs grow customer wallet share, employee mindshare and market share. Since 1983, Lisa has worked with Trend Micro, Zappos, BMC Software, Microsoft, IBM, and hundreds of entrepreneurs in nine countries. Lisa is also an award-winning expert speaker, business columnist and the author of EnergizeGrowth® NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company.
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