5. Two likely obstacles-and how to handle them
Turf trouble. Many companies that sell through dealer or distributor networks manage their B-to-B-to-C marketing activities through the sales organization. While B-to-I marketing maintains dealer programs, it shifts resources toward consumers. That shift toward consumers can lead to conflicts between sales and marketing organizations; which, in turn, can undermine budgeting and coordination.
The best way to avoid this pitfall is to work toward gaining executive-level buy-ins from both the sales and marketing organizations before launching a B-to-I initiative. Short of that, a C-suite champion may be needed to help referee conflicts and support a coordinated effort.
Resistance. Inaugurating a B-to-I marketing program is a major shift in focus for most companies, representing a change from established marketing practices in terms of both audience (businesses to consumers) and venues (offline to online). Implementing such major shifts can lead to significant questions about the value of B-to-I marketing in the best cases—in the worst, irrational resistance. To combat this kind of foot-dragging, it's imperative to develop a solid business case with a realistic and defensible ROI for multiple horizons during the implementation process.
6. Start now. B-to-I marketing is a new and rapidly changing discipline, evolving at a rapid pace. Best practices are still quite new. You should begin your program knowing that the solutions you implement during your program's early stages may change. All of this makes some marketers nervous.
But that's no reason to wait—because your customers are already there. They're comfortable gaining product insights through this new world of on-demand influencers—and making purchase decisions accordingly.
Companies that fail to develop a clear, focused approach to enter and compete in this new world will simply be left behind, wondering where all the customers have gone.