For companies that engage in business-to-business (B2B) selling, the importance of building a close relationship with their clients is paramount. This is because building a strong relationship will help keep customers in close contact which in turn generates stronger repeat business. In fact, a large percentage of the marketing efforts B2B companies use are directed toward building stronger relationships with their clients while reaching out to expand their customer base.
Traditionally, B2B companies have expended a lot of their efforts on face-to-face marketing which does reap good results. These techniques include the following;
- Trade Show Exhibits & Sponsorships
- Focus Group Research
- White-Glove Service & Support
- Creating Customer-Oriented Magazines & Print Materials
- Private Seminars and More
The sales force of B2B companies is trained in these areas and they do produce good results. However, they are also expensive to carry out and many B2B companies may find themselves cash-poor as a result if they overindulge in these techniques. Fortunately, there are alternatives that B2B companies can use to augment their customer relations efforts.
Many larger B2B companies are already embracing the advantages that creating online communities offers for their businesses. There are numerous advantages that creating online communities brings to both B2B companies and their clients. While this technique does not replace the value of meeting face-to-face with clients at trade shows, private seminars and the like, it does offer a way to stay in constant communication that helps reinforce the relationship that these companies have with those that they serve.
Arguably the biggest advantage is that creating an online community cost next to nothing as compared to all the other techniques used in developing customer relationships. All that’s needed is internet access and a site dedicated to pulling together the clients of the B2B business. The business will post valuable information about the industry while posting questions about how to improve their own services to the clients.
In return, the clients get real value in being a part of a community that offers new ideas, fresh information and a way to communicate back to the B2B company quickly and easily. The advantages of building an online community for companies that work with other businesses are substantial.
The Effects of Online Communities
For businesses that utilize this technique, the rewards are considerable when you look at the return on investment (ROI).
- Develop better products or services
- Show customers how to get more value from the products and services being offered
- Develop better marketing techniques and sales programs
- Lead in the marketplace by listening to customers
- Create better after-sale services and more
All because businesses communicate with each other through online communities, suggestions that start in conversations may lead to creating better, more effective products and services for customers that only strengthen the bonds.
In the end, developing an online community that brings together all the clients provides a simple, effective platform. This effort is inexpensive, simple to initiate and provides the day-to-day conversation that brings clients closer to the business.