Adobe's vision: The experience business. But is it for B2B brands too?

Adobe's message at this year's Summit was clear: businesses need to become 'experience businesses'. In the words of Brad Rencher (Adobe's executive VP and general manager, digital marketing) companies need to "stop selling products, and start selling experiences". Your ultimate aim should be to create consistent, continuous and compelling customer experiences, because this is what customers now expect. On top of this, their expectations shift every 18 months.

I found there was a disappointing lack of acknowledgment of the potential for B2B brands to reach this ideal during Wednesday’s keynote, even though it is, arguably, equally applicable to B2B as it is B2C. When I asked the panel later in the day (Brad Rencher, Ann Lewnes and Abhay Parasnis), they acknowledged that of course this vision can, and should be, an aim for B2B companies too.

Adobe Summit 2016

From left to right: Ann Lewnes, Brad Rencher and Abhay Parasnis

When you think about it, there is, in fact, no reason the goals highlighted by Adobe shouldn't be the same for B2B businesses as they are for B2C:

  • Know and respect the customer
  • Speak in one voice
  • Make technology transparent
  • Delight at every turn.

(I'm not sure delight is frequently experienced by B2B customers, but it would be nice to think it could happen.)

Naturally, Adobe has its own interests at heart (to become an experience business you'll need their technology, obviously), but I think the idea should be food for thought for B2B brands. Technology is having such a huge impact on customer expectations, and this is the case whether you’re a consumer or a B2B buyer. After all, the people buying your latest software are also the people booking their next holiday when they get home, and their expectations of how a company should serve them will be very similar - if not the same - whatever buying 'mode' they're in.

While Adobe's specific vision may not be realistic for that many companies in 2016, the idea that the customer should come first, and that their experience of your company should be consistent, compelling and continuous seems to me like a no-brainer. In B2B there is less differentiation between products than ever before, meaning the brands that ensure their customers receive the best experience possible are also the ones most likely to succeed.