The way companies acquire, retain and create loyal customers has fundamentally changed. Just take a look at the dramatic shifts that have taken place in the B2B buying journey, sales process and customer experience …

YESTERDAY: Marketing pushed the message out into the marketplace through defined channels.

TODAY: Your corporate story is available on-demand, 24 / 7 across any and all channels.

YESTERDAY: Sales reps were the primary way customers got to know your company.

TODAY: Customers consume your story without human intervention — when, where and how they wish.

YESTERDAY: Marketing’s priority was acquiring leads.

TODAY: Marketing must not only play a role in acquiring customers but a more significant part in how companies retain, grow and increase loyalty.

YESTERDAY: Brands were built through controlled campaigns, channels and messages.

TODAY: Brands are defined by the story customers consume and the experience they have with your company through an unlimited number of touchpoints.

YESTERDAY: Communication and engagement with your customers was limited, contained and controlled.

TODAY: Customers can communicate and engage with your employees through endless channels and communication vehicles.

YESTERDAY: Product features and functionality were the basis of differentiation.

TODAY: Products are being commoditized — the experience customers have with your company is now the battlefield of differentiation.

YESTERDAY: Sales reps controlled the pipeline and qualification process.

TODAY: The self-service buying process allows the customer to opt-in or opt-out before the sales process even starts.

YESTERDAY: Shifts in your business strategy were not immediately visible to customers.

TODAY: Your strategy is now transparent to buyers and instantly recognized in the customer experience.

YESTERDAY: Executives served as thought leaders and the voice of the brand.

TODAY: Every employee has a voice on the web and impacts brand perception and loyalty.

YESTERDAY: Message consistency was controlled through branding campaigns.

TODAY: Explosion of online and offline channels make inconsistencies in your story immediately noticeable to the customer.

The ability to adapt to these changes will define market leaders in the future.
With all of these changes, CMOs and executives must recognize that customer communication and engagement strategies from the past — are a recipe for disaster today. Tomorrow’s market leaders will acknowledge this fact. Then, they will stop down, re-evaluate and fundamentally change the way they bring their story to life throughout the customer journey— so they can thrive well into the future.