Links in the Buying Chain

Oliva, Ralph A.
November 2004
Marketing Management;Nov/Dec2004, Vol. 13 Issue 6, p44
This article deals with the use of Web services by business market managers in the U.S. to track the buying cycles of customers. Business market managers have to be willing to delve into what are often complex, long, and circuitous customer buying cycles in order to connect with customers. Many key customer team members continually troll for information on the Web to better understand the latest alternatives for their firms. Product designers, influencers, and purchasing agents are all now in a state of constant experimentation online. Depending on where they are in the product/market mix, they can use the Web to gather ongoing information, do more focused searches when a product design process has begun, and review specific vendors' new options for their particular applications. For each buy cycle the customer gains a deepened understanding of the Web as a tool. As market managers invest in Web strategies to enhance and support customer buy processes, they often have trouble assessing the return on investment of a particular Web activity as part of a long and complex by process. One key to creating highly valued activities (HVAs) is building a Web site to be the key destination for information in a certain product category. By focusing on key parts of the design process in their market and providing a unique level of support for it, business market managers can gain trackable information as they invite, create, and support HVAs.


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