OK. Enough of the space metaphor already. If you're marketing B2B products and services to business buyers, you want to know how to do it best without talking about little green men and spaceships.
But the idea of the Buyersphere is new. It really does affect how you communicate with buyers, how you build brands, and it certainly affects how we help our clients. And since we have been talking about the Buyersphere, we've noticed it has had a profound effect on the end-customer too.
So forgive us the odd other-worldly reference – because the Buyersphere is somewhere new that you really ought to know about. Come discover it with us.
The Buyersphere became influential when the internet became the primary source of advice and information for business buyers. At that point, everything began to change. Because the web allowed unprecedented sharing of information between buyers, it fundamentally changed the way buyers find out about products.
A new ‘place’ was created, where opinions are formed, where brands are built – and where the brand owner is not invited. Because this area is largely beyond the control of marketers, we face a massive challenge.
We've always believed that we created our own brands. Not any more. Buyers listen to buyers, and that’s how they build their opinion of brands. So when they share information, they don’t need you around to help them do it.
To ensure the success of our brands, we have to approach brand management in an entirely different way. It's time to throw out the old rule book. It's time to adapt to something completely different. It's time to go somewhere completely new.
They may as well be little green men.
The Buyersphere has grown with the web. Buyers have always been interested in what other buyers have to say, but getting information directly from other buyers was more difficult before the wider acceptance of the internet. The effect of buyer-to-buyer information was therefore slight, compared to the dominant sources of brand information, which was either from the brand owner or from independent information providers (eg BBC, Hemscott).
Now that the internet is so widely used – and indeed the first port of call when buyers research a new purchase – buyers have access not only to traditional information, but also to opinions and information provided directly by other buyers.
The sheer volume of this information, combined with its perceived authority and impartiality, makes it incredibly powerful. The buyer-to-buyer influence is far greater than it has ever been and is getting stronger. It cannot be ignored or simply disregarded as ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing or PR. The Buyersphere represents a fundamental change in how brands are understood by buyers.
But this is madness. What can marketers do if they have no control?
Relax. Working with the Buyersphere is not necessarily harder. Just different. Remember the following three points and you won't go far wrong:
It's up to you whether you want to explore the Buyersphere. Many companies already have, and are using their understanding of this new world to deepen their relationships with customers. Others are still on the launchpad.
If you would like to take off, the time is now. Steal a march on your competitors. Go further, faster and make the Buyersphere work for you. It's new and strange but if you are true to your brand, and to your customers' needs for information and support rather than just products, you'll get there.
And we, at Base One, would of course love to help you on your journey. Ready for lift-off?