Schibsted shares its customer-centric B2B product strategy

By Siri Holstad Johannessen

Schibsted Norway

Oslo, Norway


By Therese Jacobsen

Schibsted Norway

Oslo, Norway

In most media businesses, the main focus in on the B2C market and the B2B possibilities often get neglected. However, the B2B segment usually has a huge uncovered potential.

This is also the case for the potential B2B user revenue market for Schibsted. As the media industry goes through a digital transformation, so does the market. Along with the digital transformation in media consumption habits, more companies are cutting print and digitizing, motivated by environmental reasons.

As the B2C print development steadily decreased over the years, Schibsted also experienced a decrease in the print segment of the B2B market. Although this decrease has been slower than in the B2C market, it has been an expected development.

To work systematically with the digitalisation of the B2B market, Schibsted established a designated B2B team about three years ago. The team currently consists of people representing sales, marketing, and product development. The team covers relatively new territory, so a start-up spirit and aligned efforts are essential elements on the road to success.

In addition to working on the basic steps to understanding the market and adjusting the Schibsted subscription media brands for the market, we started working on a common product strategy and roadmap to ensure we elevate our product from simply existing to being truly customer centric.

Central elements of the new strategy

One of the main issues the new product strategy must solve is the need for a category shift. Historically in the B2B market in Norway, newspapers are an employer benefit that some employees receive based on their position or importance to their employer. Or, they are a common product lying around in workspaces such as the cafeteria or break areas.

As employees’ consumer habits are changing, we experience an increasing competition in employer benefits and are now assessed against a gym membership, household services, insurance, and other forms of compensation.

One of the biggest potential competitors is cutting the compensation in its entirety, plain and simple.

To still be relevant and attractive among this competition, the business benefits by shifting from being a common good or perk to becoming a necessary business tool. By transitioning, we ensure a true willingness to pay for our products, and we move our product and content from “nice to have” to “need to have.” If the tools we provide ensure better communication, better decision-making, and a higher business value, then clients have a greater motivation to keep using our products.

Turning the B2B product into a needed business tool makes it an appealing employer benefit.
Turning the B2B product into a needed business tool makes it an appealing employer benefit.

Another central element of the B2B product strategy is the CAN model. The CAN model is broadly used at Schibsted and is something our CEO, Kristin Skogen Lund, advocates.

Developed by Harvard Business Review, the CAN model is a framework based on the Doblin’s Innovation Ambition Matrix for assessing and managing innovation. The model consists of three ambition levels — core, adjacent, and new — as seen in the model below.

The CAN model is used for assessing and managing innovation.
The CAN model is used for assessing and managing innovation.

The model can be used in many different settings, but the way we have used it in our product strategy is as a means of organising our efforts and prioritising.

  • Core (70%): Best customer experience.
  • Adjacent (20%): New additional tools related to existing products.
  • New (10%): Entirely new niche content products relevant for the business setting.

One of the first tasks we needed to start working on to digitise the corporate market was creating the best customer experience possible for digital readers.

Mapping the customer journey

The first thing we started with was mapping out the customer journey for employees in the organisations for which our products are most relevant. These are:

  • The decision maker.
  • The administrator.
  • The employee/reader.

Based on the information our team had after the first operational period, we documented what we knew about the different personas throughout their customer journeys.

What we discovered were two key insights that laid the basis for how we should design the customer experience:

  • The clients’ incentives for starting the process of entering an agreement are low.
  • The perceived complexity of the implementation process is high.

These findings definitely confirm our belief that focusing on simplifying the customer journey and implementing initiatives to help relieve some main pain points are crucial.

Mapping the customer journey helped identify pain points in the process.
Mapping the customer journey helped identify pain points in the process.

Based on the defined steps in the customer journey, we then mapped out pain points and potential gains for all personas. We also defined an emotion graph to track how different personas feel along their journey. It is important to emphasise this is not a one-time mapping; it is an existing tool we constantly use and update every time we learn something new about our personas.

Starting with the core

Our starting point for simplifying the customer journey was making a task list and prioritising the actions on the list based on the perceived impact the actions would have and how hard it would be for us to implement the improvements.

These are our main actions over last six months.

What have we done:

  • Improved invoicing.
  • Simplified our agreements.
  • Improved our communication in the sales process.
  • Simplified the products and presentation of them.
  • Implemented new B2B onboarding communication.

What is ongoing:

  • Developing a new Web site.
  • Launching our new admin portal.

What is next:

  • Digital tool for mapping customer needs in the sales process.
  • Additional self-service elements.
  • Better analytical tools for our clients.

In the near future, the team will get together and evaluate the need for new actions to simplify the customer journey even more. We are also switching our focus to creating new services now that we have done major work on some of the basic ones.

Stay tuned for more B2B-related material, as we plan to share some learnings from releasing our new corporate admin portal and our new onboarding process.

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