Beyond online ads, the opportunity for B2Bs is in truly creating, joining, or expanding direct ways to work with their customers. If the goal is broader than just moving existing inventory - service or product that is - it works.
Because we know social media is not a new distribution channel for your products, although it can be a way to do that by facilitating distributed conversations about the people who need your product or service - support, peers groups of learning, discussions on relevant topics and trends, ways to streamline service delivery, and so on.
This works especially if you have a complex product or service. Although my advice in that case is to streamline the service first, consolidate the product line - put more energy behind making fewer products help your customers better.
Opportunities look like this:
- the case for customer communities to create a way to work with your customers - how can you help your customers talk to their friends and colleagues about your ability to solve their challenges? Marketers tend to spend a lot of time trying to woo new customers. Relationships with existing ones matter a great deal.
- 5 areas of integration to go from customer conversation to conversion to join a way to work with your customers - responsiveness is still something that surprises and delights people. There will come a time when all companies are there. For the moment you could have an advantage while you work on making the product/service better.
- 3 steps to mapping your customer journey to expand direct ways to work with your customers - delivering experiences is more than in, it is your best marketing. What is your optimal customers' journey and how can you map that online or by using online tools to streamline that process?
Ultimately, it's about eliminating friction from any system and process so it serves customers. This goes beyond eCommerce to true collaboration. Let me give you a simple example. Let's say you're working on a new customer portal, would you requirements be driven by IT or by the business? Would your customers be part of the voices polled?
You don't lose control of what you decide to do by asking - you just extend the opportunity to be part of the process and the team to the very people you owe your existence to - business partners and customers.
Today at Fast Company we explore if CPG brands would compete with their own distribution channels for customers. Their goal is lofty, the challenge will be interesting to track.