Greater emphasis is clearly placed on value and multiple-unit purchases rather than on adding “frills” via merchandising tactics beyond clearance areas and rebates. An interesting aside is that unlike B-to-C customers who have come to expect plentiful free shipping offers, the lack of such promotions does not seem to negatively impact the B-to-B customer’s decision to make a purchase.
"Five years from now, we'll be more focused on our delivery business, with a higher mix of technology, and sell more private-label products," Ron Sargent, Staples' chairman/CEO, told investors attending the 26th Sanford Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. "There will be more services in our mix, because there is not a lot of inventory and the margins are great.” The company will continue to expand its technology offerings. "We're already the third-largest reseller of computers, behind Best Buy and Walmart, but the problem with computers is that the more you sell, the more you lose — you price them low and promote them heavily."
Outsell estimates that marketing on social networks will grow 43.3 percent in 2010. Forrester Research predicts that B-to-B firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009. Paid advertising on social networks — banners, text ads and search advertising, as well as the more targeted advertising being deployed by Facebook and MySpace — is a small portion of B-to-B marketers’ social spending.
In late November, we surveyed the All About ROI editorial board members and other marketing insiders to gauge their views on the year ahead. At press time on the eve of the 2009 holiday homestretch, with their hopes for a better sales outcome than 2008 looking modest at best, few saw an especially bright light shining by December. Instead, many settled in to make the appropriate adjustments for reduced demand.
There's nothing today's customer dislikes more than falling into the gap between a company's online and offline operations. Feeling stranded, abandoned and disrespected, even previously loyal customers start looking elsewhere when channel conflict gets in the way of their needs. Customers want a coherent, seamless and positive experience — not your conflict.
Most B-to-B catalogers sell to the government, albeit in a passive mode. Using the SmartPay credit card, federal buyers appear on B-to-B buying lists with some regularity. When properly targeted, they can become a significant percentage of any B-to-B cataloger’s business.
The Catalog Success 200 presents a keen way of showing which catalog/multichannel marketers have been on the fast track. It tracks those that have rented out their housefiles in the past two years. There may be others out there, but without the numbers for the market to view, they can’t be charted. Companies highlighted in red are either B-to-B or hybrids.
Someone asked me last week, "What are the best ways to survive a recession?" Without thinking much, I responded, “Love the customers you got!" As I began to reflect on my knee-jerk answer, I realized just how important it is for B-to-B catalogers to do just that.