Have you ever wished you could gather all of your customers or clients into one room, and speak with them about all of the incredible information your company has to offer? Or, in line with another approach, would you round up your customers in one place if you could, with a goal of relaxed conversation about their needs and exactly how you can provide solutions for them? While speaking to a group of industry professionals made up of manufacturers, designers and retailers not too long ago, one of the audience members expressed these quintessential ambitions.
The topic of the session was two-way communication with customers, clients and constituency groups, and she said, “My marketing and sales teams believe we have a ton of valuable information to tell our customers – not just about our new product introductions and promotions, but also solid insights we know could provide benefit.” When I asked her how she was communicating with her customers other than the expected advertising and press campaigns, it was revealed her company hosts or sponsors trade events when budgets permit. In exchange, she explained, they hope for a few minutes of “speaking” time at the onset of the events. The problem therein; her company has many brands, varied product lines, and regional-based customer diversity. And, a few minutes of speaking “to” a group of customers with a price tag of $20,000 is just that, a few minutes of one-way talking for a lot of money.
Okay, I am not saying that event sponsorship is inapplicable, far from it in fact. Our own ECPR has sponsored many industry events and believes in the practice wholeheartedly. However, there are other supplements to traditional advertising, marketing and sponsorship that strategically evoke connections with customers in large numbers. Take blogging for instance. While possibly one of the earliest forms of social media, blogging is likely the most misunderstood by businesses. Even with over 110 million active blogs to date, many business leaders still view corporate blogs as toys rather than the valuable business tools they can be to interface with customers. If it is true that our customers can benefit from what I call the three “i’s”: our insights, input, and involvement, then, why shouldn’t we consider the value of blogs? When done correctly, corporate blogs can provide cost-effective, ongoing and solution-oriented content that supplies our customers with advantageous valuation, not to mention calls for action every time we add new posts. Still, blogs should not be for the purpose of selling. Better yet, they have the true ability to yield meaningful dialogue that induces relationships with customers and potential customers.
Ok, we’re just getting started here…Check back the week of Nov. 15 for the second part of this post, where we’ll offer some tips and ideas our team has learned about leveraging B2B and B2C communications through blogging.