As veterans of the B2B e-commerce world, Brian Beck and Andy Hoar know a boring online presentation when they see one. That’s why the pair are framing their new MasterB2B online video series as “the un-webinar.” Launching March 30, the series of un-webinars will unfold approximately every three weeks, providing distributors, manufacturers and other industry stakeholders with the tools and insider knowledge needed to run a successful e-commerce operation.
MDM is the exclusive media partner for MasterB2B and in anticipation of its upcoming launch, we spoke with Beck and Hoar about their vision for the project.
How did the idea for MasterB2B come about?
Beck: I’ve been in the field as an e-commerce practitioner for 20 years. I wrote a book called Billion-Dollar B2B E-Commerce. Andy is the former lead B2B e-commerce analyst at Forrester Research. Between the two of us, we produce quite a bit of thought leadership: publishing, consulting, advisory work, working with e-commerce platforms, helping companies optimize their Amazon strategy, working with midsized and very large global companies in laying out their e-commerce strategies.
Andy and I came together about four or five months ago and had an epiphany. We both realized just how much noise there is in the space. Particularly since the start of COVID-19, there have been just so many webinars. We saw an opportunity to cut through it, create a new format where we get to the root of the issues that these B2B companies are dealing with. Instead of vendor sales pitches, we can have real debates about the issues and provide real tactics that practitioners can apply to their businesses. We have structured this almost like a sports talk radio or television show. Andy and I will be going back and forth debating issues and getting to the core solutions B2B companies need to be successful.
We’re going to bring in practitioners and have real debates. Our content will directly speak to the people who are trying to make decisions about how they evolve to meet the needs of the new millennial B2B buyer. These issues are critically important. Failure to take action threatens these firms’ very survival. We’re going to talk some tech topics, but it’s really about the strategies and business tactics that are going to be difference-makers for these businesses.
How will it be structured?
Hoar: We’re going to start out by defining and contextualizing the issue and then we’re going to bring people on to debate. We’ll be including the sponsors, asking them tough questions. If we’re talking about ‘headless,’ I’m going to ask [the sponsor], “How is your second-generation version going to be better than the dozens of first-generation versions already out there?” You don’t usually do that to the sponsor of the webinar.
The first un-webinar is on Tuesday, March 30. They will take place either on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The time is always the same: 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. Pacific. Happening once about every three weeks. We have the schedule on the homepage of the website, masterb2b.com.
It’s worth stressing that it’s the MasterB2B series. They’re not intended to be one-off webinars per se, although you can opt out at any time. We want people to engage with the series, because it’s not like there’s one issue consuming you and then you’re done or won’t have any problems ever again.
How did you pick the topics you’re starting with?
Beck: Every day, Andy and I are working with companies that are dealing with these issues in our consulting businesses. We see what people who are trying to digitally transform their business are going through. We see them struggle with the pain of making sure that they are relevant to the buyer, work to deal with channel conflict, launch e-commerce and marketplaces, and align the sales team. They ask questions like: How do I deal with this changing buyer and the fact that my traditional selling channels are evolving and changing? How do distributors understand and react to the pressures that their suppliers are under and how the supplier/reseller dynamic is changing? You’ve got the introduction of Amazon Business and how that’s affecting the B2B marketplace, both as an opportunity and a bar-leveler. How do you keep yourself relevant? What kind of technologies do you need in place, but also which people and processes? All the ideas that we’re bringing to the series are born from the struggles these companies are experiencing right now.
Will people be able to suggest topics?
Hoar: Yes… we have a way through the website for people to do that. In our emails, we’ll also be asking people to share a favorite topic. We’re open to ideas. We want the discussions to develop organically from within the practitioner community.
Visit masterb2b.com/ for more information.