Many companies say they are focused on customers, but they aren’t walking the walk, according to a 2009 study from Forrester Research. While 45 percent of marketers surveyed said their marketing activities are focused on customers, only one-third say they have strategic ways of delivering the right messages to the right customers. Even more telling: Only 11 percent said customer engagement was an important aspect of their marketing communications.
This, analysts say, leads them to believe that claims of customer centricity are mostly hot air.
Building trusting relationships with customers is especially important for b-to-b marketers, who deal with longer sales cycles, higher price points, corporate hierarchies and more specific audience niches. Here are some general tips for creating better connections with customers via marketing activities.
- Know what customers want – Your customers know what they want, but are you listening, or even bothering to ask? Regular customer surveys can be an underrated yet valuable tool when you begin any marketing strategy. Thinking about writing a white paper? Ask your salespeople to gauge their customers’ reactions or send an e-mail with a quick survey asking which topics they would be most interested in. With surveys, it helps to offer a small incentive. Starbucks gift cards, anyone?
- Hit the bull’s-eye – As mentioned in this post, aiming irrelevant messages at your customers (or aiming certain messages to the wrong ones) is not only ineffective – it can cost you business. Be wise before you send that next e-blast or mailer.
- Get friendlier – Getting involved in social media can show your customers a friendlier, less formal, yet still properly branded, side of your company. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter also offer more opportunities for one-on-one, close interactions, not to mention a number of other benefits. Read more about those here, here, here, here and here.
- Educate, then sell – Give customers news they can use and ask for nothing in return. Educate them about the latest business trends in their industry. Give them information that will make them look good in front of their bosses. Then segue into how your products/services can help them in those specific areas.