The demise of the “integrated enterprise” and the development of “ecosystemic” offers explain a large part of the explosion of interorganizational exchange. So much so that B2B trade now represents markedly more that the overall value of the overly publicized B2C exchange. However, business marketing remains too often the underdog in terms of career perspectives for HEC MBAs: the objective of this course, then, is to give students a thorough understanding of Business Marketing, and to encourage them to think about potential careers in this wide-open field. Simply put, Business Marketing may well offer some of the most exciting opportunities upon graduation. 

The course will not rely on the old “4P” paradigm, and will try to avoid talking about “B2B” Marketing. The old “B2B” model was designed for individual firms who sought to sell products to customers.  The new “B4B” model is about developing an ecosystem aiming at selling outcomes for customers. This model uses a “4V” framework that I have been developing over time.

  • Not unsurprisingly, the whole course starts with the Customer “Viewpoint”: simply put, there is no substitute to gaining an in-depth understanding of the customers’ needs and wants at the rational, organizational and political levels. This will enable us to shift away from the offering-centric paradigm and develop instead a truly customer-centric mindset.
  • The whole framework then hinges on the key concept of “Value”; we will propose that firms must quantify the value they bring to customers and will address all three areas that matter to them: reducing cost, adding net benefits and decreasing risk. What is at stake here is to understand the ecosystem.
  • This understanding leads to the development of the “Vehicles” though which the Value can be offered: from “product-attached” services, to bundled offers, “full-fledge” services, (true) solutions and platforms. At this stage, suppliers create the relevant ecosystem to design and manage these Vehicles
  • Next is the topic of “Voicing”, which deals with the way the customers and the established ecosystem communicate; as it encompasses the issue of data capture, storage and analysis, this topic is much wider than the traditional “promotion”, i.e. how firms educate and engage with their customers; the objective is to manage the ecosystem.
  • Last we return to “Viewpoints”, but this time to address the key question of buyer-seller relationships which have been created through the ecosystem. Both issues of effectiveness and efficiency should be considered here. At this stage, the goal is to leverage the ecosystem in order to maximize long-term profit.

Though the course topic is B4B Marketing, we do believe that it also speaks to MBA participants who want to work in the B2C world. First, the marketing philosophy and mindset stay the same, irrelevant of the field of application, and arguably differences matter less and less. Second, many B2C firms do have significant (and profitable) B4B operations. Last, as CRM told us, B4C business models may well be frontrunners of what could later happen in the B2C world...In any case, we will use a lot of B2C examples and systematically examine the applicability of the lessons learned in the B4B domain to the B2C domain.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand organizational buying decisions, recognizing that rational behavior is only a first-order approximation
  • Switch from understanding buying decisions to learning about them, and, most importantly, influencing them
  • Define value in a more rigorous way, conceptually distinct from the price paid
  • Focus on strategies designed to increase the “customer incentive to purchase”
  • Quantify value as much as possible, sometimes using “word equations”
  • Bridge the “value gap”, systematically investigating issues of intangibility, variability and visibility
  • Recognize the necessity to develop services to fight the commodity magnet
  • Understand the shift from product-attached services to true XaaS offers
  • Realize that bad platforms may outpace good products
  • Distinguish “true” outcome-focused solutions from bundles of products and services
  • Capture the true signification and financial value of data creation storage and analysis
  • Develop a value-based content-marketing communication strategy
  • Apprehend the new relationship between sales and marketing : “smarketing”
  • Evaluate the “relational potential” at the level of the product family, and developing appropriate marketing tools that match both the potential and the actual purchasing policy
  • Manage portfolio of customer types to meet different objectives
  • Capture key non-linearities existing between customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability
  • Assess when and how much to yield to channel demands