[Editorial Notes: Guest article contributed by Vishal Dhar, President Marketing and Co-founder, iYogi a Gurgaon based remote tech support firm.]
The realm of ‘marketing’, as we know it may be at an end. Look around you. It is one of those evident things that sit in front of us but we don’t choose to actually see it, until we just have to. Here’s what you already know, but have to be told – never before in history have we been exposed to so much advertising and blatant selling. Almost every aspect of our public life has been invaded by the advertising behemoth. From the coffee mugs we pick up to drink our morning cuppa to the subway we take to work to the messages we get on our personal mobiles to our computer screens at work, have all been claimed. We are being subjected to what Naomi Klein termed ‘the corporate takeover’ in her critically acclaimed call-to-arms against the intrusion of brands, ‘No Logo’.
Are we really bothered? Most of us would say it isn’t really a bad thing, as in these days of targeted marketing; we are only getting the ads we actually want to look at. But what about the loss of privacy that comes with this? It isn’t an especially comfortable feeling knowing that Big Brother is always looking over your shoulder, collecting your behavioral choices and preferences to sell to someone else who will then bombard you with advertising.
In this context, where more and more educated people are turning their backs on advertising, marketing for a B2B audience will soon become impossible. The target audience is educated, sophisticated, knows exactly when and where it will be exposed to marketing messages and will appropriately switch off when they want to, leaving you, as a B2B marketer, in the lurch, with dwindling marketing channels to go after your target through. Soon enough you’ll have to sit back and think about other ways to sell to a saturated audience who’s fed up and refuses to be exposed to any more marketing.
This is why you should be thinking about support.
This could be the treasure chest of a channel you have always been looking for. Just that unlike traditional marketing where you promise certain benefits to the buyer, here you have to prove the benefits already – that your support capabilities are superior to your competition. This isn’t an entirely new argument, not at all. Here’s Forbes talking about how ‘Customer Service is the New Marketing’.
Then what am I saying that’s different?
This shift is coming to B2B shores much faster than we realize. If you are a B2B marketer reading this and have already been observing some of your channels not behaving like you want them to, and are observing minute patterns that you are worried about, you may already be seeing the first symptoms.
This means you’ll have to differentiate your offering in a way that doesn’t involve flashing messages in front of your audience. You’ll have to be more creative, more rooted in actual offerings than in branding. Great support is one of those ‘real’ things you can do. Investing in your support structure, making customers happy and then positioning yourself as such, much before others catch on, may be one way of doing it. There may be other points of differentiation that can be identified and conquered of course, but right now, this is the low hanging fruit that can be claimed by a first mover.
So if I were you, I’d be taking a long, hard look at my support infrastructure right about now.