Next gen B2B buyers are why digital is a strategic imperative

So I’m in my 50s as are many key decision makers. Yes, running with the “big dogs” of c-level targeting may find you marketing to someone in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. But, there is a major shift in the tectonic plates of B2B targeting that is not just ahead, it is here. That is why advanced digital thinking must be part of your strategy.

While I am not saying that a 64 year-old senior executive is not digitally savvy. I am saying that someone 50+ has had a different experience in B2B communications compared to a new crop of B2B targets who grew up with a Sony PlayStation instead of an Atari (and a smartphone instead of a pager). This new Gen X (36-45) group is more likely to be drawn to a digital message. What is behind them (Millennials, age 18-35) is so engaged in technology-based communications it’s hard to maintain their attention unless you communicate via text messages or even the micro consumption languages of twitter, vine or instagram.

A great new infographic from Acquity Group offers a wonderful illustration of how B2B decision makers want to be marketed to by sellers. Just one example involves the use of tablets and smartphones. Among buyers age 46-60 , 24% say they have researched or purchased items using a tablet or a smartphone, while 64% of those age 36-45 have done so. The take away here is responsive design that offers easy functionality on a tablet or smartphone is an absolute must.

Another important statistic to understand is that the next generation of B2B decision makers grew up using sites like Amazon.com – a significant purchasing alternative to traditional brick and mortar stores. Among Millennials, 63% have purchased products from Amazon’s B2B site (AmazonSupply.com) while only 12% of those 46-60 do so. What is the take away? E-commerce for many products should be by-passing (or providing an alternative to) conventional sales channels as we will see more buyers going direct to the client for less hassle. That is good news for suppliers who gain higher margins and who can maintain a new relationship instead of relying on a middle man.

It’s not about gadgets or technology, but about understanding target demographics and the behaviors of your core group of potential buyers. If you need to still produce a nice four-color brochure because that is the way your target buyer wishes to make a purchase, then print them. If they want to do the same with their smartphones, then build an app that makes liking your product or service easy and simple. But, based on where the B2B space is headed, you need to think way ahead of a website and an e-mail and into a digital space that is comfortable and familiar with your target.

Infographic Credit: Marketingprofs.com

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