Rick Chavez, chief solutions officer of the Microsoft Advertising and Consumer Monetization Business Group, presented a new paradigm for mapping consumer needs at the April Luncheon. We know what you’re thinking: “What does mapping consumer needs have to do with business buyers?” Don’t let the terminology fool you. At their core, whether they’re decision-makers, influencers or purchasing committee members, B2B buyers are still consumers.
Mapping  Consumer Needs

Wouldn’t most marketers give their right arms to know exactly what their buyers want? In the age of big data and analytics, marketers are as close to reading buyers’ minds as they’ve ever been. Chavez encouraged audience members to use this unprecedented access to consumer habits and embrace a new mindset. By using their abundance of data as a means to qualify human insights, marketers can engage customers in a more efficient and effective way.

People vs. Product Centricity
The fundamental shift Chavez described was the transition from a product-centric to a people-centric mindset. Product-centric companies only activate their markets after a product is created, to encourage adoption of that product. They’re the ones you hear uttering, “If only consumers would just behave and try our new app.” The focus (and bias) is toward the product offering, and success is predicated on the fact that consumers will try a product, whether they need it or not, and find a use for it.

People-centric companies take time to conduct research unbiased toward any particular product and learn what customers need before creating a product to meet those needs. By uncovering what consumers need and aligning those needs with marketing objectives, marketers can fulfill those needs with the right products and services at the right time. An added benefit — the odds of consumer adoption increases, because customers see the immediate fit for that product in their business lives.

Embark on a New Journey
The combination of data patterns and human insights necessary to create a people-centric foundation doesn’t match the traditional sales funnel. That’s exactly why Chavez proposed that B2B marketers let go of that funnel entirely! He emphasized that the sales funnel limits marketers’ understanding of consumers and excludes important qualitative factors. He proposed moving from the sales funnel mindset to the non-linear buy cycle called the “consumer decision journey.” The consumer decision journey focuses on fulfilling fundamental consumer needs (e.g., achievement, status and balance) that in turn drive the behavior and engagement marketers want from their customers.

Embrace the Unknown
Chavez encouraged attendees to rally around new technology instead of being intimidated by it. Marketers can’t predict what the data will show them, but they can take advantage of the human insights they cultivate to identify new opportunities in the consumer decision journey. By turning experiments into products (people-centricity) instead of products into experiments (product-centricity), they set themselves up for future success.

What challenges do you have mapping your customers’ needs? Tell us in the comments section below!

Don’t forget to sign up for the last BMA Breakfast Seminar of the 14–15 season! Stephanie Schwab, CEO and founder of Crackerjack Marketing, will be sharing her insights on “Contextual and Social Advertising.” We hope to see you there!