Paul Cash and James Trezona’s new book ”Humanizing B2B”
Paul Cash and James Trezona’s new book, Humanizing B2B, isn’t something you’d immediately expect to be peppered with such wry, evocative humor. But like any great communicator, regardless of subject, they play with such an unusual trait with a sense of wit and candor – making the dryer aspects of the read really come alive and feel emotionally resonant.
After all, the book in some ways is less about the specifics of the B2B marketing strategy, and more about how to humanize and democratize out-of-date practices that will, in an ultimate sense, negatively affect the seller. Understanding the traceable, and therefore in some ways predictable, customer base attributes is a crucial part of staying relevant and capable in an increasingly digitized, progressive, and postmodern corporate vista. “In B2B we suffer from a delusion, and it’s this: that buyers always act in a rational, logical and economic way.
They don’t, and they never have,” Cash and Trezona write. “What’s more, in recent years the tectonic plates of B2B have shifted and its customers have evolved. They don’t just want to buy from you any more, they want to buy into you. This isn’t just our opinion; it’s validated by a series of landmark research pieces which prove that B2B audiences buy on emotion and justify with fact, just like their B2C counterparts.
You may be asking yourself how B2B has become mired in the ‘average’ mindset for so long, speaking only the language of products and, if we’re lucky, customers. We’ve spent many years trying to answer this question, and have come to the conclusion that there are three factors at play. The first is that there’s a broken line of communication between marketing and the board. The second is that there’s a dominant, product-led mindset that’s difficult to break. And the third is that there’s a lack of investment in and understanding of the impact of brand.”
“In addition, another consideration might be that marketers don’t know any different, which leads them to do what everyone around them does and ignore the fact that brands like Microsoft, Salesforce, Apple and Google have managed to dominate (and create) their categories because they rejected the average path,” they’re wise to add referentially. “This final point is the reason we’ve written this book: we want you to know different so you can do different.”
Despite the book in certain respects almost having the tonality of a cautionary read, Cash and Trezona mostly keep things cheerful and upbeat. As far as they’re concerned, as long as one is willing to learn the new ‘language’ of the postmodernist corporate landscape, as well as maintain a healthy sense of consumer empathy, it’s a win-win for everyone. “(Things) simply (entail) shifting your focus from products to people, accepting that buyers and decision makers want empathy and engagement with their issues,” Cash and Trezona write. “…Of course, lead generation and short-term tactical approaches are still important, because buyers want to know what your product’s features are. But you have to balance this with a longer-term investment in brand, because while the former generates incremental growth, the latter creates transformational and sustainable expansion.”