In this blog series we aim to unmask the components of a business-to-business (B2B) engagement practice that are often overlooked. A B2B engagement practice is defined by how you engage with your customers and through building a value-delivering relationship to win and retain those customers.
It’s accepted business doctrine that everybody needs to engage with their customers if they have any hope of succeeding. This might be Marketing 101, but in the B2B space it’s not about simply catching the attention of your market at any cost.
A lot of the information out there will tell you that you need to put your marketing efforts into defining, segmenting and understanding your customers for effective B2B engagement. This can be an arduous process involving a lot of trial and error. It can also be costly to establish these kinds of one-on-one, individual needs-based relationships.
To think that you must do it because everybody selling a CRM system says you should, could well be missing the point. In fact, they may be missing their own point by assuming you need what they’re selling right now.
To quote our sensei, Seth Godin: “More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe. We want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.”
If you are in that stage of business development where your participation in your customers’ worlds starts to matter then you might already be onto the “why” of an engagement practice. So, in this first blog post we’ll consider exactly that: how do you know if you need a B2B engagement practice?
The first question to answer is whether you have a need to engage a segment of clients who are not yet aware of your products or services. That would mean that your business could be in any of the following situations:
· You are marketing an existing product to a new market.
· You are introducing a new product into an existing market.
· You have new expertise, are embarking on new marketing channels or are facing a new competitor in existing markets with existing products.
· You’ve started thinking about whether you have a full complement of B2B engagement skills.
These situations occur in various organisations. For example from the organisations we have worked with: one of the world’s largest cloud providers needs to be liked by old-world organisations, such as utilities providers; AI needs to be introduced into markets challenged by digital and economic divides, such as in Africa; or an imperial-era NPO needs to target a young and growing demographic.
In each of these situations, the deeper the need for expertise to define or redefine your B2B engagement practice, the greater the need for someone in the team who can navigate the change required in being recognised, “liked” and “followed” by these (new) client segments.
The decision to embark on an engagement practice should never be based on whim, and so the method to connect with your market should never be random.
We’ll focus on how to really reach your audience in Part 2 of this blog series.