Each year we are coming up with market strategies and tactics to help drive new business, but what have you slotted into your strategic plan for the customers you have? At the end of the day, your customers are essentially your best asset for a marketer – typically drive significant annual revenues, provide priceless word of mouth recommendations and provide insights from the market when we engage them. So why is it that many organizations relegate customers to a series of automated tools and process which focus on reducing costs, rather than investing in the relationship in their plans? In fact, if we present anything in our strategy about our customers it’s about reducing costs. So one of the questions I would always ask myself and my team about their strategy plans was: “What Are You Doing to Improve Your Customer Relationships and their Market Understanding?” Not only do I invest in my customers as it relates to the products I sell, I always try to improve their understanding of our shared markets. After all, an educated customer who is invested in the relationship is typically a more profitable one and more loyal.
Know Your Customers and Know Their Industry
As experts in the markets we serve, we often read more, have access to more information and definitely have more discussions with people in the market than our customers do. Much of information gleaned is used to build out our personal understanding of the market or the larger organization, but many of us tend to not share these industry insights and market information with our customers. Not sure why, maybe we are just too focused as marketers to get that next prospect or feel this information is somehow proprietary info. Whatever the reason, the industry analyst calls, market trends and other content we get access to is just the type of information your customer’s want/need to be more competitive in the markets THEY serve. So on some levels both us, as vendors, and them, as customer’s are sorta “all in it together in this shared market”.
Share the Knowledge Your Organization Has
We have all kinds of info we create to do our daily jobs as marketers which could be re-purposed for prospects and customers alike. We gather all kinds of market data – whether it’s usage trends on our SaaS platform by industry, learnings from speaking with customers or the information gleaned from the last analyst call, it’s all potentially interesting for your customers. It takes all of these sources to get a baseline understanding of markets and their problems to get approved projects and build sufficient products. Much of the information we get is not directly related to our products, but rather the markets our customers are in and could help improve our customers’ businesses as well.
Just as we invest in creating content strategies to putting people in the funnel, we also need to invest in creating content which strengthens our relationships with our current customers to maximize retention, so here are 5 ways to better share the information inside your company and help your customers improve their businesses:
5 Ways to Raise YOUR Customers’ IQ
- Blog About Your Customers’ Industries: It’s always a focused to blog about the problems our product solve or advances in technology around the product sector we service since this helps with demand generation. Once people buy your products however, they want to better improve their businesses and compete in markets now that they have solved the problem which drove them to purchase your product. Not only does this approach help with maintain the existing relationships with your customers, this too will help with the demand side of things.
- Recommend online outposts, industry groups and readings: We spend a lot of time focusing on our own communities, but as marketers and product managers we also are aware of great industry resources which help us keep abreast of our customers industries which would be equally useful to our customers and we should share this information – even if we don’t manage these groups or produce the content.
- Provide Updates on Industry Conferences & Events: Many of us attend industry events and conferences and often have to right up a trip reports, that very content could easily be re-factored for your customers in minutes. You should also provide information on events your company isn’t going to, if it would be of interest to your market. For example, if you go to an event just do a little post on it, whether it’s directly related to your product or not. Maybe the marketing folks at your customer companies would be interested in that agile preso you saw or the Product Camp presentation you did.
- Create a mini educational/informational thing for your customers: Nothing big, basically a very light presentation or ebook-let on an industry trend. While this seems like something we should be doing anyhow, we typically write for non-customers, this should be targeted at customers and shouldn’t necessarily be related about our products or the problems we solve at all. Think of all the analyst calls and original research you do/content you curate to understand your market, pick just one small topic and put something together on slideshare, scribd or just available on your website. Here is an example I did on innovative brands which took under an hour.
So what is your CRM strategy to raise YOUR customers’ intelligence in 2011?