B-to-I? Redefining Your Client’s Buying Criteria

By Kevin on April 8, 2011 in Marketing, Sales, Strategy

This week’s edition of Bloomberg Businessweek has an article about magazine publisher, Richard Beckman, and his efforts to revitalize The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek and other media properties. I read with interest and some amusement how Beckman says he invented the term “B-to-I”. Most are familiar with the term B-to-B for Business-to-Business, or B-to-C for Business-to-Consumer, but Beckman is positioning his media venture around B-to-I or “Business-to-Influencer.” As he describes in the article:

“Business-to-influencer means your product is talking to not just the industry but also to that top-of-the-pyramid consumer who follows those industries.”

This is, of course, a great case study in positioning. Can you imagine owning a magazine and having to face your advertising customers quarter after quarter:

  • “Well yes, our readership is down another 10% but here’s why you should still advertise…”
  • “It’s true that we only have 20% of the readership we had 5 years ago, but you should be paying a higher price because…”

Not an enviable position to be in. But now what Beckman and his sales team can say is, “Hold on…we’re not about mass numbers of readers. What you want super-smart-client is to get your brand and message in front of the RIGHT readers. You want to be known among the movers-and-shakers, the decision makers, the INFLUENCERS. Our publication might not have much reach, but it reaches all the important people.”  Nice.

So, is “B-to-I” a brilliant strategy and accurate description of the benefit to customers? Or is it just desperate sales spin? The answer is in the eye of the buyer of course.

But I will tell you this, if you and your competition are in a dog fight time and time again, it might be time for you to change the buying criteria, the mindset, of your top customers.


Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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