I sat in on a great presentation by a Google exec last week. Barb Gilles, Team Lead for B2B Markets, was in town for the local Business Marketing Association. It was eye-opening to hear a little bit about how Google thinks about the B2B marketplace and how they approach it. Regardless of whether you think Google is a positive or less than positive force, they are one of the key trend setters in the marketplace. So I pay attention.

Several stats and trends she mentioned were interesting:

  • 65% of C-level Execs conduct 6+ work-related searches per day.
  • 99% of Small business owners are searching prior to buying.
  • 25% of B2B say they are more likely to change vendors than before the recession. (This is a real opportunity to convert business.)
  • Online research has changed the game and moved the power to the buyers due to more information and more preparation.
  • People hop around and across all platforms in their search from YouTube to Google to Twitter to Facebook to….
  • The “Zero Moment of Truth” is a key Google concept. The First Moment of Truth is based on the Proctor & Gamble-originated marketing concept referring to the instance when your brand interacts with the shopper in a store. It’s that critical moment of contemplation when the consumer is looking at all the product choices and then chooses the product to put into their basket. This point of sale battle is the setting where product choices are still made.The example provided brought it home. Think of yourself standing in front of a wall of toothpaste choices at the supermarket. How, why and what do you choose?Google (and generally, B2B) doesn’t have any store shelves (at least not yet). Their business is information. As such, their emphasis is a step prior to the First Moment of Truth, the ZMOT. For B2B marketing and sales, making sure you are there where your potential buyers are is critical.Key Trends Fueling the ZMOT
  • Social Media – There are conflicting views on the importance of social media as a marketing channel for B2B right now. In some ways, how much time and energy to devote to this right now depends on the specific business, marketplace, and where your customers are. However, social media is not going away.
    People trust what their friends say about your product or service more than what your company says. That’s pretty logical and it has been that way for a long time. The ease of adding your two cents to the online discussion and finding someone else’s two cents has supercharged the influence of word-of-mouth. More and more B2B purchasing decisions will be influenced by what potential buyers find when searching online for your company or product. It’s your choice when to jump in, but it will eventually be as important as trade shows and other face-to-face opportunities.
  • Recession – Researching products and services, pre-purchase, is a necessity when there is less money to spend. You can’t afford to make a mistake because there isn’t much room for error. It’s a smart use of limited resources to do your research before you buy. Owners of the business are likely to be more involved as purchasing departments find it hard to keep up with the business requirements.
    So this will go away when the recession does, right? I don’t think so. Habits die hard after years of making this pre-purchase research a practice. Also, people tend to keep doing things that are working for them. Clearly, researching products and services is helping them be better and more effective consumers, at home and at work.
  • Mobile – Simply having easy access to these online repositories of information anywhere you are and anywhere you go encourages more use. Why do you think Google is in the mobile phone business? It’s a perfect fit.
    In 5 years, the current iPhone and iPad technology will be viewed as very elementary. There will be more power, more connectivity, and better tools to increase business productivity and sales force productivity. More effective mobile tools will provide more momentum for this trend.
  • Are these trends are impacting your business or your customer’s business? Look at your own habits when you are making a purchase decision. Has your buying decision process changed over the last couple of years? Probably. There is a good chance that your customer’s process has changed. Have you re-aligned your sales and marketing resources and objectives to match them?Next Post: How do you impact the Zero Moment of Truth? Marketers are familiar with the 4 P’s. Google thinks about the 5 P’s.