When it comes to business to business marketing most companies focus on the ROI or the dollar value of sales from their products.
I find this to be somewhat misguided short term thinking.
The relationship is key
The most important part of any business to business transaction is selling into the organization.
And more important than what you have sold is the supplier to customer link you have established.
In business to business sales you are selling to people, not to bricks and mortar. I hear this so often that it is becoming rather overused, but as a concept it is still extremely relevant.
The value of your business is not in the dollar value of the product you have delivered, it is in the contact with the person who gave you the order.
When planning a campaign with my clients (I’m an aviation business to business copywriter) I ask who will be giving them the order. Next I ask what will you do for this person? How will you build the relationship? This is a vital step in planning the angle of the copy I will write. The more personal I can make it the more emotional triggers I can use and the better response I usually get.
What do you do for your clients?
Use the 90 Day Rule of Thumb
Nobody likes to be sold to and no-one wants to hear from you only when you have something for them to buy. Being the strong silent type or the “I must be successful since I’m too busy to talk to you” will NOT win you any friends or repeat customers.
I suggest keeping in contact with key people at least once every ninety days (It might be more often depending on the nature of your business).
A simple phone call will often suffice. Other options include an email or an email series, a regular newsletter (print or electronic) or even a direct mail mail campaign such as a postcard series.
Whatever you do it should frame you in a positive light in their mind, not have them thinking of you as some kind of stalker!
First Come Is Not Always First Served
The first person you connect with in any business may not always be the one who makes the decisions or does the buying. Unless you know the inner workings intimately it pays to build relationships at every stage . The key people usually consist of the following;
The Decision Maker
Often, as in small businesses, they are one and the same person. Yet in larger businesses they will most likely each be an individual who all need your time and attention.
It is not unusual to write a white paper aimed at CEOs and business owners and have to write a completely separate one (with a different focus) for the technicians or end users who will ultimately have an impact on whether a specific type of product gets used or not.
Relationship building really doesn’t change just because you are selling to another company as opposed to an individual consumer or end user.
The chances are if you take the time to get to know your clients and develop relationships with them, you will stand out from your competition simply by virtue of not peddling dry, dusty information in the same generic manner as everyone else.