Trends and Service Buying Patterns of B2B-Focused Companies

Research shows that industrial manufacturers are taking content marketing seriously and they recognize the value of creativity in their marketing plans. Most industrial manufacturers still outsource at least one operation in the marketing process.
Digitization and customer relationship are high interest areas for professional services providers. A significant portion of their leads are generated through digital channels. High-growth professional services providers, especially those providing Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) services indicate that research is a key part of their marketing and branding efforts.


    • However, at least 45% of manufacturing marketers rate their organizations as being in the first steps or young stage in their content marketing efforts.
    • The first steps stage includes those who do some aspects of content development but have yet to make it a process. The young stage includes those who have grown content plans, and are challenged with creating a strategy and measurement plan.
  • Most organizations take content delivery and creativity importantly in their branding.
    • Seventy-two percent (72%) of manufacturing marketers revealed that value creativity and craft in creating and producing content. Sixty-two percent (62%) prioritize the delivery of relevant content where and when it is most likely to be seen by someone.
    • Only 39% of manufacturing organizations provide optimal experiences across their customer engagement journey.
  • Manufacturers mostly have small teams that are responsible for marketing or content marketing.
    • Almost half (47%) of manufacturing organizations have a small (or one-person) marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. Twenty-five percent (25%) have both a centralized team and other individual teams throughout the organization.
    • Ten percent (10%) of manufacturing organizations have dedicated marketing/content marketing teams for each department/brand/product. Only 15% have a centralized marketing/content marketing group that serves multiple departments/brands/products throughout the organization.
  • Many manufacturing organizations still outsource their marketing/content marketing activities.
    • Over half (64%) of marketing organizations still outsource at least one marketing/content marketing activity. Of all outsourced activities, content creation is the most outsourced (87%).
    • Thirty-two percent (32%) outsource content distribution, 25% outsource content technology, 25% outsource measurement activities, 22% outsource editorial planning, 19% outsource content strategy activities, and 19% outsource other activities.
  • Manufacturing organizations expect to increase their content marketing budgets.
    • At least 41% of manufacturing marketers reported that for 2019, their organizations had a content marketing budget of at least $100,000. However, the average annual budget was $285,000.
    • At least 43% of manufacturing marketers expected that their content marketing budgets for 2020 would be higher than it was for 2019.
    • Most manufacturing companies revealed that they would prioritize content quality/quantity in 2020 (56%), and improve content distribution/promotion (52%).
  • Industrial manufacturers contact suppliers or service providers in the later parts of their buying cycle.
    • According to a Team Thomas publication, manufacturers go through a six-step buying cycle before they make a purchase.
    • The six steps of the cycle can be summarized as research to collect more information, product data research (for new designs), evaluation of potential suppliers, shortlisting of potential suppliers, and purchase from the supplier of choice.
    • Evidently, a CEB assessment showed that 57% of the purchase decision process is completed before a call is placed to the supplier.


  • According to findings from the latest (2020) edition of Gartner’s Supply Chain Top 25, Cisco Systems has the leading supply chain structure in the world.
  • Cisco’s B2B integration systems.
    • Cisco was faced with a problem of expensive and inefficient systems through which large partners could use web portals for complex sales orders.
    • To solve this problem, Cisco implemented an automated B2B process to facilitate automatic transactions and information exchanges. This solution allowed internet communication between Cisco and its partner through secure gateways and industry-standard routes.
    • The solution implemented partner-specific integration based on geographic scope, process complexity, automation goals, and the systems involved.
    • As a result, Cisco was able to lower transaction costs, ensured faster product and service delivery, and was able to process 96,000 sales orders per quarter (39% of total orders)
  • Cisco’s advocacy marketing strategy.
    • As a way to build its brand awareness and marketing, Cisco set a goal to incentivize a community of advocates known as Cisco Champions. Cisco Champions were tasked with talking about the Cisco brand among their professional networks across social media channels.
    • Cisco gave it advocacy champions opportunities to enhance their professional skills, network with peers, and showcase expertise by featuring them across the channels used by the advocating community.
    • Through the advocacy program, Cisco Champions generated 55,000 tweets about Cisco, wrote over 200 posts that were Cisco-related on their websites, and authored over 100 posts on Cisco’s blogs.
    • These efforts resulted in over 44,000 hits and over 8,000 mentions on social media. Cisco was awarded a prize of Best Social Engagement award.


  • Prioritization of digitization.
    • Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the professional services industry is the most likely of any industry to speed up technology adoption. Most professional services leaders (87%) stated that their digital transformation efforts have been accelerated since 2019, compared with 79% of leaders across other industries.
    • For a variety of technologies, including video conferencing, sales automation and so on, the professional services industry has had the highest adoption rates.
  • Relationship management will be a key determinant for growth.
    • Professional services providers are adapting to the prevalent circumstances by building stronger and richer connections with their clients to know what more value they can provide for their clients.
    • Seventy-nine percent (79%) of professional services agree that the expansion of inside key accounts will be crucial in driving growth over the next 12 months.
  • In a 2021 study of Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) services firms by Hinge, the following trends were observed.
  • AEC firms that conduct research are growing faster.
    • The most successful AEC firms conduct research to find the right answers. AEC firms conduct more research and more often than their peers in other professional services industries.
    • Over 80% of high-growth AEC firms conduct research at least quarterly.
  • Good use of digital lead generation.
    • The number of new business leads generated from digital sources (websites, digital marketing, social media, and so on.) in the AEC industry increased by 64% in the last 12 months.
    • High-growth AEC firms generate half (50%) of their leads from digital channels. Over a third of them have mature marketing and sales automation software systems in place.
    • The top marketing techniques for AEC firms based on impact are public relations (earned media), live product/service demonstrations, and publication of guest posts on external publications.
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