"Get closer to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves."
- Steve Jobs
Most enterprises spend a huge chunk of their marketing budgets on new customer acquisition, assuming that it's all Utopia or Shangri-La for the existing ones. Seldom do they realize that a customer 'not' lost is a customer gained. This is all-the-more important in times like COVID-19 or Coronavirus when getting a prospect onboard is a tedious task that it used to be earlier.
Investing in a well-planned customer marketing strategy not only helps in customer retention but is also important for your enterprise as happy customers directly result in indefinite prospects to your sales pipeline.
Losing your customers to your competition or losing them because them not able to pay you is cataclysmic and painful. Most often than not, enterprises use 'costs-savings' or 'value-adds' as the perk to retain customers. But typically, they bring only a temporary effect.
As the million-dollar question goes: what are the best customer marketing strategies for an enterprise?
Here is a look at some of the familiar but a rehashed version of 9 customer marketing strategies that will not just help you in retaining business customers but also assist in strengthening the long-term relationships with them (long after Coronavirus or COVID-19)
1. Analyze Customer Feedback
Systematic collection and analysis of feedback is the foundation for business loyalty management strategy. It makes no sense to plan initiatives aimed at retaining business customers if the company does not understand; What is going wrong? What are the current bottlenecks with your product or service? What features can make the product or service better? Or What the customer's end-user perceives of the product or service?
Most of the business customers are two-faced and are to be treated like two separate individuals. On the one hand, it is an organization, a legal entity with its own rules, processes and interests. On the other, they are the specific users whose wishes, interests and goals need to be considered.
This is the main object for diagnosis on the part of the company. At the same time, do not forget about the employees with no expectations or interests. The retinue makes the king. According to Google research, in more than 80% of cases, an ordinary employee without any expectation directly influences the decision-makers (business customer).
Customer feedback is an opportunity to honestly look at your company from the outside and understand what needs to be changed to become a more attractive supplier and a partner.
Key questions you need to know answers to:
- How happy are customers with the quality of products and services?
- How is the attitude towards the company changing?
- How often is the product or service updated based on customer suggestions?
- What needs to be changed in business processes to make it more convenient for customers to work with the company?
- Which customers are inclined to refuse the services of the company, and why?
- What factors influence the decision-making process?
- Are we doing right on our customer marketing strategies
- Who makes the purchasing decision in the organization?
- How does the company differ from competitors in terms of a customer?
2. Use Subscription and discounts
Subscription plans are the easiest way to make your customers feel comfortable with the pricing and commercials. In this case, you are helping them to avail a good deal of savings and other additional benefits by getting on a long-term plan with you. Discounts, on the other hand, are best suited for enterprises where procurement is one-off and not tied to long-term contracts.
Keep in mind that offers should be aimed at either promoting repeat orders, increasing the volume of purchases, or expanding the consumed items at the same time making them use the product or service efficiently. The offer should not be an act of senseless generosity.
The subscription plan or discount system should clearly fit into your pricing strategy- If not, you reduce not only the margin of sales, but also the value of your products.
3. Offer special packages for the most valuable customers
Differentiating customers, by their value, is the second most popular and easiest way to increase business customer loyalty and one of the critical cornerstone of customer marketing. The company's goal is to focus on the highly marginal and promising customers. Such clients are the main driver of the company's growth.
No doubt you need to build your own loyal set of go-to customers whom you can always depend on to bounce off new features and ideas, but that doesn't mean the remaining set of others should be kept in the dark. The level system allows you to create additional features and services for the most valuable customers without prejudice to other customers.
Most often, companies implement a level system that is tied to discounts that depend on the volume of purchased products. A similar model, of course, gives its result. But it will be more effective if the company thinks out the intangible aspects of incentives, as well as indirect material motivation.
When developing a level system, it is essential to pay special attention to what customers need, and how you can help employees of clients who interact with you.
4. Provide Personalized Service
Handpick some of your most valuable customers who have been great advocates of your product or service, and each such customer should be assigned an account manager who oversees all relationships and is often a single point of contact.
Dedicated account managers are expensive to maintain; the company should calculate the economic feasibility of such a step. How much sales will increase? How much will this service cost to the company?
Companies working with large customers with a complex decision-making model have key account managers on staff. This is a vital component of a successful customer marketing strategy.
For companies whose customers are representatives of small and medium-sized businesses with low volumes of purchases, the need to allocate a personal manager is a matter of economic feasibility and operational efficiency.
Is it possible to do without a dedicated manager by automating business processes?
There is a methodology called Account-Based Marketing (ABM), where the main emphasis is on personifying customer relationships. This approach is characterized by a high level of automation of work with customers.
Activities associated with lead generation, demand generation, communications, and service are implemented automatically based on a constant feedback analysis. ABM is radically changing the sales model and the requirements for the number and competence of managers involved in communication with customers.
When introducing new concepts, it must be borne in mind that even in case of a high level of automation of customer processes, there is still a need for managers. In a business ecosystem, personal relationships are significant, which cannot be automated. Therefore, the question of the balance between a personalized approach to sales and automation always remains relevant.
5. Educate and Develop Customers
The better the customer representatives understand your product, the more they are loyal, and the more they buy. Often the main reason for the failure of the transaction is not competition, but low awareness and misunderstanding of the proposed solution by the customer. This is especially true when it comes to an innovative product or service.
Demo-videos, educational webinars, whitepapers, GTM manuals, quick-start training kits, and research publications are some excellent tools for educating end-users. This is an investment in long-term relationships and loyalty. In the process of training, the company receives feedback, needs assessment, and will be able to identify real-time problems of a customer in interacting with products and solutions of the company.
In any field of activity, there is something that it is important to tell the client so that they can use your product or service more efficiently.
Large companies can use training to grow their customers by providing them with access to best practices and knowledge. This win-win customer marketing strategy works great for loyalty.
6. Invite for conferences and events
Every industry or a line of business has its own set of conventions, talk-shows and events. You may be sponsoring a few, partnering a few and participating in a few more. These conferences play a significant role in educating your customers on the trends, equipping them better on the subject matter and most importantly enabling them to network with their peers from various organizations of similar kind.
You can invite your customers to participate with you in these conferences; you can even sponsor them as a speaker or a panelist and help them build a better brand image of themselves. Large enterprises have the option to host an event of their own based on their entire customer list.
Advantage with your private event is that you don't have the competition being there for poaching your customers and you can give many customers a chance to take the stage and feel important and privileged.
7. Build positive relationships for life
In business, the emotional factor plays a vital role in decision making. Positive emotions suppress doubts about the supplier or individual terms of the contract. The formation of a positive emotional background is not a one-time task, but focused and systematic work.
There are instances when you can build positive relationships for life by taking care of your customers when in need.
For instance, if your customer is going through a bad patch in business or is suffering from a natural disaster, this is the time to lend your hand and extend your support. You can cancel/waive off the charges, offer them help in promoting their brand, connect them with your prospects or just hear them out and offer consolation. Never let a prospect or customer go because they can't afford you.
If not anything, you get a customer who has a profoundly positive vibe with you. Besides, it is a great opportunity to tell them that you care, which you do. The setting of tasks in this direction should be carried out with the same frequency as supply planning. Use surprises, hold joint informal events, create occasions to emphasize their value, professionalism, and authority.
8. Give branded merchandise
This is probably one of the oldest among the customer marketing strategies. It is an old but still a perfectly valid way - make useful and beautiful branded merchandise.
Think out of the box while choosing a merch. From simple items such as calendars, pens, flash drives, tees and bags to personalized high-value items, build your merchandize-kit for various occasions. We at Paperflite are working on fire-breathing dragon-robot for our customers. Ask us the details if you are keen to know more.
Such branded merchandise are seldom considered a bribe. They not only remind your customer about your company (brand) for a long time (mindshare) but also leads in to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities if they are positioned well.
9. Tell your customer success story
How to praise a customer so that it does not look flattering? Tell his success story! Share information in the media, talk about case studies at conferences, publish collaborative research, and interview key customer representatives.
Video testimonials and case studies are more effective marketing collaterals than the product or solution brochure.
Such initiatives strengthen relationships with customers and create new opportunities for joint PR activities. A success story works great for building relationships with decision-makers and experts. The case-study can also emphasize the merits of specific employees on the part of the customer. Career and professional growth of customer employees loyal to you strengthens the position of the company, creating opportunities for expanding cooperation.
The last in the quiver of our customer marketing strategies is to follow the mantra:
'Keep them posted. Keep them informed and Keep them engaged'.
It is always the best practice to let your customers know what is happening from your (enterprise) side of things. If you have a new blog published, inform them, if you have a new pricing model – engage it with them. Always make sure you keep them posted on anything and everything new with your company.
For better ways to do that, Ask us how and we would be delighted to assist (firstname.lastname@example.org).
"Loyalty is when people want to give up the best product or price to continue to do business with you."
- Simon Sinek.
To win the love of business customers, you need to think about their feelings, and ensure you are not wasting their time. You can make them happy by creating a positive customer experience. Provide quality service, think through the details, and show customers what you think about them first.
Now that you have some pointers to and try on your customer, please let us know how it goes. Also, please let us know of any other tips on customer marketing that you are practicing during this pandemic.
Some more recommended blogs that might interest you:
6 Content Strategies for Responsible Marketing in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Integrated Marketing: How to market in the digital age?
What is Smarketing? 5 tips to align your sales and marketing teams