Sometimes the most earth-shattering revelations arrive at the most banal moments. It was a perfectly ordinary rainy Saturday when I started scrolling through a backlog of social media notifications over a good coffee, mostly deleting… and there it was…
An article from one of my Linkedin groups (Future Trends) had a headline that struck me like a splatter of hot bacon fat: B2B IS DEAD. B4B IS BORN.
Holy Hollandaise, brunch-goers of the world – who said so? Magendar Rajasekaran, a “client engagement expert” and “technologist” from the computer software industry in Singapore, according to his Linkedin profile with its gazillion credible-looking connections. Clearly no crackpot or snake-oil salesman pushing some course or subscription. I was reading on…
The chicken, the egg, and the B4B model
Magendar’s article resonated so strongly with me, it was as if I had written it, but I’d never thought to. His heart-felt articulation of a “B4B” model is what I’d been engendering in marketing practice for many years. For us it went something like this: working in partnership with clients rather than in service to them, and working for their customers ultimately, with customer experience as our focus. Business-to-business sounds like ‘selling at’. Business-for-business means a relationship of mutuality: “Hey, customer… we’re in this together, your success is our success.” Life (often enough) imitates Art. Our clients were growing and referring us to others, and I was happy to be making a difference in my corner of the world (Australia) with what I thought was simply our “Ginormous way” of doing things.
In “B4B” my ethos had found a name because someone in distant Singapore who had been thinking along the same lines as I’d been thinking (but much harder in terms of how to put it) published an article in a Linkedin Group discussion which found its way to my iPad one rainy Saturday when I was out in the Aussie bush to meet with a regional-based client – all through the miracle of social media. Such is the wonderful village in which we now live, and the immediacy with which interested minds from all around the world can share big ideas. And I wasn’t alone. Whole binders of people had liked and shared Magendar’s article. If a Church was forming around the “B4B” idea, I might even want to become a preacher.
I gave Magendar’s ground-breaking article an immediate “thumbs up” on Linkedin. Enthusiastic comments would have been more appropriate to the magnitude of the moment, but then I am one of the laziest social media participants on the planet (like how some builders can hardly be bothered to work on their own houses after doing it for clients all week).
Next thing, Magendar sent me a message to acknowledge the fact that I’d liked his article, and I was asked to join a new group he was forming for the purpose of codifying the B4B model. Of course, I said “yes” and joined because I agree with Magendar and the growing number of thinkers from around the world who are saying, and figuring out how to explain why:
B2B IS DEAD. B4B IS BORN.
We work in partnership with our clients – rather than in service to them – for their customers – and we encourage our clients to do the same.
– Melanie Williamson on the spirit of B4B in marketing