“We Know All the Customers!”

We know all the customers and decision makers.  Their names are in our data base and our sales people call on them regularly.  Why do we need social media, isn’t that a waste?”

Much of our experience has been with high-tech companies who sell to a small number of buyers.  Some have less than 1,000 potential customers world-wide, others less than 5,000.  But in most cases the total number of customers is finite.  In taking with the management of these companies we often hear a variation of the quote above.  Management’s perception is that a basic web site works, and that blogging, twittering and other forms of Web 2.0 is a waste of time and money.

Wrong!!

For those companies who recognize that they have to do something (despite knowing all their customers) we recommend the following:

 

 

 

 

  • Listen (monitor).  There are a number of free tools, and some expensive ones, that allow you to capture what is being said about you, your products and services.  This gives you the ability to respond quickly and if necessary take corrective action before things spin out of control.

 

 

 

An example of what is coming is the website Security Scorecard. http://www.securityscoreboard.com/.  This web site is an industrial “Yelp” of the security industry, allowing users to post comments, critiques and reviews of security vendors for all to read.  Here is an example or a review (edited):

and the bad stuff – configuring the xxxx server and getting those agents working is not – I repeat not – plug and play. maybe i'm stupid but i spent days trying to get this working. and the way this product is licensed is very expensive.

While Security Scorecard is just launched I am anticipating similar websites in other business-to-business verticals.  Listening to what is being said will allow you to learn and react.

 

 

 

 

  • Update your web site.  Many small B2B companies have a rudimentary web site that is nothing more than a dated product brochure with tacked-on pages for management and Contact Us.  Update it to be more current, configure it to work on mobile devices and provide new content on a daily/weekly basis – depending upon budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Blog. A few years ago capturing mind-share or thought leadership was done by speaking at conferences or by publishing in trade publications.  While some of that is still true, a more effective way to reach both buyers and heavy influencers is by blogging.  A company in an oligopolistic market can improve its share by gaining thought leadership and providing differentiated products.  Today customers will find you via the internet because of your blogs and go to your web site to see what is new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Communicate relevant information.  This can be done by email, linking to your site/blog or by sending out relevant newsletter on a timely basis.  The key for the newsletter is in using it to promote success (1,000th device shipped, Largest installation ever, Closed deal with Big Brand Name Co. etc.) and testimonials.  Both lend credibility and longevity, needed factors in the B2B space.

 

 

 

Since most companies are already doing some form of emailing, the incremental out-of-pocket cost to do the above is relatively small.  Where it hits home is in the time and resource area.  For a small company to do this right requires anywhere from 1-3 full-time people.

It is when we explain the commitment part that some companies duck behind the phrase – “But we know all the buyers, we talk to them constantly.”

You may know them, but in today’s Web 2.0 world that is not enough.  Optimizing the Marketing budget to meet today’s needs will ensure that you will be in business to see Web 3.0.

If you are a Business-to-Business customer are you doing the four minimum things listed above?  If not, why not?

RHM  10/20/2010

1 comment to “We Know All the Customers!”

  • Jim Matorin

    Bob – Web refeshment is 101, but I cannot tell you how many times, even with B2C, I go to sites that have not been updated, starting with the news section. A B2B site updated on a regular basis with relevant content that you bing your customers with via email can prove to be a very powerful tool.

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