In these uncertain times, no industry has escaped economic turmoil, and now more than ever B2B businesses are playing a crucial role in helping and supporting their customers through a crisis. Budget cuts, a drop in subscriptions and renewals, low forecasts, and staff cuts prove problematic, effecting our clients (and our customer’s customer). So, as a B2B business, how can you show your worth?
Harvard Business News quoted an interesting statistic that 50% of B2B buyers are holding off on purchases because of the pandemic (according to McKinsey & Co.) So, what about the other 50% who are not holding off? How do you connect with all you customers?
Sharing our experiences, here are 5 ways for B2B businesses to retain those all-important customers (and make new ones):
1. Show empathy in a time of crisis
Now more than ever, your customers need access to the valuable expertise and support you provide. Be mindful of your customer’s pandemic experiences and shift your focus to risk mitigation by providing decision support and critical business insight that’s essential. Helping out at a difficult time could result in a long-term win. In a recent survey by www.emarketer.com, 71% of respondents expect their suppliers to better understand what they need when asked how they wish to be served post-COVID-19.
- Offer free content – sharing your expertise for free is one of the key ways to build your brand and get noticed. Publish whitepapers, share surveys, and provide an expert opinion.
- Offer short term discounts or free access to some of your premium solutions – your customers will soon see they can’t afford to operate without you.
- Strategy one to ones (via Zoom) – Talk to your customers the old-fashioned way! Change your sales tactic and identify where your customers’ pain-points lie before starting your sales pitch. Remember, different customers have different issues, so find out what they could benefit from before offering a solution. The personal touch shows the human side of your business.
2. Improve your SEO traffic
Customers’ purchasing behaviour changes throughout the highs and lows of the economic cycle. With working from home the new normal, becoming a digital business is essential. Every day, people use Google to conduct over 3.5 billion searches. And according to HubSpot, 80% of a website’s traffic begins with a search query. So, invest time in your SEO and turn each search into a lead.
- Find SEO errors and research keyword opportunities
- Check-in on your competition to see what they are using for key words
- Update and optimise website content and landing pages
- Increase traffic with free infographics
- Post valuable content on social media
- Link to external sites with high domain authority
- Post regular content and articles
- Be aware of all the latest google algorithm updates and SEO best practices
3. Be authentic
The key is to understand who your audience through thoughtful interactions. Try not to abuse the current situation, you don’t want to be seen as insensitive and using events as an advantage. Talk their language, sympathise with their frustrations, and understand their challenges, priorities, and needs to help build trust and loyalty.
- Have strong company values which reflect your integrity and how you wish to be seen
- Promote good customer service
- Hold topical webinars and virtual conferences
- Run a customer success campaign and turn your best customers into advocates of your business – people familiarise with genuine customer stories and trust that you deliver
- Create ‘How to’ videos and tutorials, so customers get more out of what you do
- Invest in your social strategy – invite your social followers to join your email newsletters
- Develop a customer retention strategy to drive lifetime value
4. Make customer retention a priority
According to Callbox, Lead Management Solutions, customers tend to stick to the same supplier during a recession unless there’s a 10% difference between their current supplier and a rival.
Please don’t stand still during this period of uncertainty. Focus on your existing customers and avoid losing them to unwelcome competitors.
- Focus on improving your NPS score when planning your marketing strategy – make every touchpoint a defining moment.
- Reward loyalty – In a joint study published by Manta and BIA/Kelsey, say that repeat customers drive more than 50 percent of their sales. Meanwhile, only 34 percent of these small businesses have a loyalty program in place.
- Make it personal and set up a 30-minute Zoom call – the discussion should be focused on the client’s top strategic areas, whether those areas are related to what you can offer or not. Our clients say having high-quality customer support as a USP is a big differentiator for them.
- Create customer advisory boards – customer advisory boards are a powerful way to engage with clients and progress the relationship on both sides. They offer a forum for identifying what common value looks like, understanding your customers as unique individuals, and creating a future together.
5. Importance of employee engagement
Richard Branson was right in saying, “a company’s employees are its greatest asset, and your people are your product.” We know the importance of promoting your brand inside and out. Your workforce is more productive, more satisfied and more fulfilled when they feel united in purpose. Undervaluing or neglecting internal communications can be costly, so it’s never been a better time to rally the troops and show solidarity.
- Be clear on your purpose, mission, and values and make sure every employee knows what they are – having a strong brand strategy is the beating heart of your company
- Ask them for ideas – put product development into the hands of your employees by asking them how you can develop your business
- Launch a ‘Live the values’ campaign – that focuses on real stories of employees living these values
- Reward not just success but ideas, enthusiasm, and hard work too
- Give regular updates on performance and highlight achievements
- Charity work is very rewarding – why not find a local one to support
- Have a shared intranet or discussion board for employees to create their own content
- Hold events that include both company performance reporting and team building activities
- Like one of our clients, give everyone a special day off to reward them for their hard work during lock-down!
As a creative agency working with the HR, aerospace, and agriculture industries, to name a few, there has never been a more poignant time to help our clients adapt, develop and deliver marketing tactics and campaigns for a changing world.
To help develop your brand strategy for long term business success, create engaging campaigns, and deliver inspiring creative get in touch.
About the author
Karen Kingdom is a founding director at Powwow Creative, and has been assisting creative branding campaigns and advising clients for 25 years, from FTSE 100 companies to start-ups, in the world of B2B. Connect on LinkedIn.