Diamax & CSIA Reinvent The B2B Buyer's Guide

PostedFriday, November 22, 2019 at 9:49 AM

Filed Under Academic Program Directories Associations B2B Directories B2B Marketing Business to Business Buyer’s Guides CAS Directory Communities Content Marketing Directories Energy Engineering Exchanges Hubs Knowledge Hubs Knowledge Management Marketplaces Member Directories Pipelines Process Optimization Product Designs Professional Societies SaaS Directory Social Networks STEM Supplier Directories

CSIA.pngI've heard a lot of people say that 5 years is a lifetime in tech, that if it takes more than a couple of years to get the details right, you've missed your market.  I don't agree with that notion at all. Really innovative, truly disruptive products often arrive years before the market is ready for them.  It takes an enormous amount of evidence and evangelizing to persuade people to abandon the certainty of the familiar for the possibility of the better.   It takes even more effort to find early adopters willing to share the risk and partner to drive a new product through all the iterations it takes to make it an obvious winner.  Remember how long it took flat screen TV's to break into the market in a big way?  It seemed like they surged into the market and dominated within a couple of seasons, but in reality, it took years of iterative improvements in partnership with passionate audiophiles to get the product right for the rest of us. Sure, we also could talk about economies of scale in manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and service, but none of that even comes into play until the product is right.  Any company that seeks to bring a truly innovative product to market has to build a close relationship, a partnership, with its early adopters. 

For Milieu B2B Exchange, our most important early adopter was the Control System Integrators Association. They were not our first Milieu customer, but they were our first B2B supplier directory customer that envisioned something better than a typical online buyer's guide.  They wanted to offer control system integrators a specialized marketplace that would rank high in search results and allow them to differentiate themselves on more than just price or service categories. In 2014, Diamax launched the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange, a B2B Marketplace that combined a content rich directory of suppliers, a library of industrial automation resources that industrial customers would find useful, and community features to facilitate engagement between buyer's and suppliers.  Through hours of interviews, analysis, strategy, and design, we worked hard to get the forumula right for CSIA and the result was better than expected.  Revenue grew exponentially over the first 4 years and it's still growing!  The CSIA industrial automation exchange has become CSIA's number one referral source for new members and one of the most commonly cited reasons for membership renewal.  The most impressive thing is that CSIA achieved all of this without an ad sales team!

CSIA is still our customer and we are grateful for all the ideas, compromises, patience, and even complaints we received over the past 5 years because our product got better and better.  What took over 6 months to implement with our first version of Milieu in 2014, can now be done in 2 weeks with the latest version.  Not everything in our digital strategy worked, but through trial and error, we now have a playbook that we have baked into Milieu JumpStart, our standardized implementation process, which not only helps our new customers launch in less than 2 months, but accelerates revenue growth and member engagement during the first year.

Years after we started engineering Milieu, our vision hasn't changed, but the details sure have. We knew what we wanted to offer and why, but it took bold early adopters like CSIA to combine their vision with ours so that 5 years later, a lot more customers would want Milieu too.