"Yes but we are a B2B company and this B2C stuff doesn’t apply to us!"

by Didier Marlier on Sunday April 17th, 2011

How many times have we heard this excuse when working with large businesses entrenched into their orthodoxies? This goes back for me, as far as 1988 when taking my MBA at IMD when some of my friends who had started their career in the industry dismissed marketing and strategic provocations from our tutors…

Many B2B businesses have fully taken on board the need to go beyond the obvious relationship with their immediate customer in the value chain. In a good article of March 2008, the authors[1] describe the “Value Curves” approach (celebrated by the “Blue Ocean Strategy”) used by Thomson, a group selling information to the financial sector, to better understand its customers’ customers’ needs and consequently be in a position to create more value and influence their direct counterparts. Our experience suggests that, today, understanding the needs of the final user in the value chain is high on most of the B2B busvinesses.

In this year where the Chemical industry as a whole decided to work at getting closer to the public and improve its image, a short clip has been brought to my attention by no less than fifteen people since February 2011 (including by my son and daughter who had got hold of it through their mutual Facebook networks). In one and a half month, the Corning clip (Corning Incorporated is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics) has been viewed by almost 12 million people!!!

The strength of Corning is to make us dream (“Find out how Corning makes possibilities real” says the tag line), and bring us to break our own self imposed limitations and orthodoxies about the products they manufacture.

For those of you remembering our post about “What? How? Why?”[2], this shows that creating and living a limbic/emotional brain related Why is also possible for B2B firms.

LeaderLab is a “Leadership & Innovation network that unites progressive leaders, practitioners and thinkers focused on Open Leadership and Social Business Innovation. We (they) are united around a belief that we need to rethink leadership, business and organizations for a more global, transparent and competitive world.”[3] Too bad their business model and invitation to pay high fees for being part of an exclusive network of great names still smells strongly 1.0…

Nevertheless, the short clip they produced is a compelling invitation to challenge some of our old models. How long will it be until this influences both B2B and B2C radically?

I hope you will have found those two examples inspiring and will share them around you.

Full week in Paris ahead. I wish you a relaxing Easter Break next week-end. I will leave it blank as well, no “Sunday blogger intrusion”!

Thank you for your time in reading each this blog, we broke a new record of attendance the last two weeks.


[1] R. Harrington, A. Tjan “Transforming Strategy One Customer At The Time” (March 2008) H.B.R.

[2] http://blog.enablersnetwork.com/2011/02/20/%E2%80%9Cpeople-don%E2%80%99t-buy-what-you-do-they-buy-why-you-do-it%E2%80%9D/

[3] These words taken from Leaderlab’s website (www.leaderlab.com)

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