Abridged with the author’s permission from Marketing Interactions.
I’m starting to see customer retention, up-sell and cross-sell getting a bit more attention from B2B marketers these days. The challenge is that marketing to existing customers is a very different animal from marketing to new companies. A few reasons why:
- Their status quo is different
- They have a relationship with you
- Their expectations are higher
Your content strategy must shift in response.
A New Status Quo
Your customer’s situation is different because they’ve purchased your solution to their original problem. Therefore, everything you said to them prior to that purchase is now irrelevant.
But now that their original problem has been solved, how do you evolve your content strategy to improve customer satisfaction, extend relationships and expand accounts?
- Use and Rely Upon: After purchase, your content should help them embrace the new solution and address issues such as user adoption, reporting, and other things they need to know to get the value you originally promised.
- Gain More Value: Once the customer is using and relying upon the original solution, your goal is to help them find even more value than you promised. This could mean introducing new ideas that take them from their new status quo to a position of higher value—often by purchasing enhancements or additional solutions. Keep the sales pitch subtle. This is about thought leadership, education and expertise. Then cement that with case studies that focus on what your customers have achieved beyond solving the original problem.
- Renewal or Expansion: Given your goal, this is the late stage of the buying or renewal process. This is when marketers really need to focus on creating the content that account managers need to convince customers to stay. Talk to your account managers and really probe to understand what they’re hearing from existing customers.
The Customer Relationship
One thing to consider is how to segment customers not only based on what opportunities their new situations present, but by how much attention they get from their account managers. Often, for economical reasons, only the best/biggest accounts get a lot of attention. It’s marketing’s job to help the customers with limited account manager relationships feel the love. And that means creating content programs that they find valuable.
Many buyers say that a key factor in their decision to do business with a company rested, in part, on the value of the content and unbiased information provided during their buying process. Why wouldn’t the same be true of their renewal process? But, based on that previous buying process, their expectations are high. They expect evolution from what was a stellar engagement process during buying to a better one now that they’re customers.
And they should. Given the fact that markets change quickly and solutions evolve much faster, there will always be a new story to tell. The marketers who tell it first and best, putting an insightful spin on how their customers can reap even more value, will be the ones who help their company win more business.
Providing value to our customers does not stop with purchase. The story just changes. It’s up to us to help them connect the dots to find more value and new approaches to reaching their business objectives.
Ardath Albee is CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist for Marketing Interactions, Inc. Her book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is available from McGraw Hill.