Archive for November 2009
I am often asked how to incorporate the customer base into the marketing outreach, and when I am asked that question I get very excited. For a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the person asking the question understands that you need to consider your customer base in a slightly different way to that of your prospect base.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use the same marketing materials, you just need to apply strategic thinking to customer marketing and link that strategy to the profit and revenue goals of the organisation:
- How much revenue should come from the customer base?
- How should that be split by product and solution?
- How does the marketing strategy support that?
- How are you going to measure the results?
The exciting part is that you can generate significant revenue and profit increases by leveraging your customer base – and at the same time, you begin to improve your relationships with your customers as you increase communication and two-way knowledge.
The ideal goals from customer marketing should be:
- increased revenue
- increased profitability with each customer
- increased number of customer advocates
- improved links between customer stakeholder departments: sales, account management, marketing and professional services
The key is to be integrated, and disciplined about how you measure results.
We all know it’s far cheaper to sell to a customer than to a prospect – but what exactly are we trying to achieve?
What do you think of the relationships you have with your customers? If you’re in marketing – how much exposure do you have to your customers?How much of your business do your customers know? Are they constrained within the products or services they currently use?
Marketing needs to develop relationships with the customer base – relationships generate profitable customers. Think about it. If you have a great relationship with someone, you are more likely to trust them, like what they say, and, importantly, act on recommendations. If you have a poor relationship – and poor can be defined by a lack of communication, attention and focus – then you know the rest.
- understand your customer, know their challenges with you – turn those into positives by designing an experience that addresses those head on (think feedback forums for example)
- demonstrate how you innovate – involve them in product launches, marketing programmes, product development
- b2b can be experiential – don’t be afraid to emotionally engage your audience
- make it easy for your customers – create an immediate association or driver for your brandremember the customer journey:
Food for thought…would be interested in hearing war stories on either end of the b2b experience!
It struck me recently that as a B2B marketer I have instant insight into what makes B2B buyers tick – based on my own experience. What some B2B marketers don’t always take into account is that B2B purchasing, whilst budget driven, can be as emotionally charged as consumer purchasing. Much B2B marketing material is fairly dry, extremely corporate and doesn’t seem to “emotionally” engage the individual you are targeting.
While of course it’s important to build credibility with your target audience, let’s not forget you are trying to appeal to people! I have a few general rules of thumb when it comes to B2B marketing:
- Make it visually appealing – I’m a B2B buyer, I like visually interesting images and colours. If it’s a cool, relevant, interesting image I might pay a bit of extra attention and stop to read a bit more
- Make it snappy – give me something that’s easy to digest – I don’t have a huge amount of time and 30 seconds should tell me what I need to know to be interested
- Make it targeted – take the time to personalise – to me as an individual as well as the company I work for. This means content as well as salutations
- Take your time – I’m not going to buy from you the first time I hear from you, woo me, save something for the second date
- Respond -follow up,respond when I demonstrate interest – read my behaviour so you know what my interests are
- Be interesting – don’t be bland, don’t overuse jargon, tell me interesting stories about what you’ve done. Benefits not features please!
I know we all know these things…just it sometimes help to remind ourselves that B2B is not an amorphous, anonymous lump – it’s made up of intelligent, vibrant individuals who want to be treated as such.