— April 3, 2019
Many sales people (and few marketers) only have a handful of intimate customers. But they’re able to build out a long-lasting and rewarding relationship with them. Customer intimacy goes beyond frequently talking to buyer groups. It’s all about creating, nurturing and cherishing a two-way connection and conversation with individuals.
Image by Tobias Wolter (CC BY-SA 3.0)
On the other side of the marketing spectrum, there’s a tendency in marketing to create as many as possible digital touch points to generate as large as possible numbers of qualified sales leads (although a majority of them may remain unqualified forever). Today’s technologies like data analytics and cognitive computing allow to identify the most lucrative opportunities and maximize their conversion rate but the personal touch is often still missing.
Note that I don’t have much experience with the latter, but some digital marketing campaigns feel like having online sex. Being a target of internet marketers and teleprospectors myself, I’m almost always missing (yes, you may take this literally) the personal touch, the two-way interaction and the genuine intimacy. Resulting in superficial, impersonal and fleeting B2B contacts – or most frequently just in an opt-out request (I just love GDPR!)
Of course, one can start nurturing his or her digital leads, but there’s always a risk of becoming annoying for rather than intimate with your audience. There’s only thin line between being informative and getting intrusive. Few people appreciate spam emails or unsolicited calls. And, if your content or message isn’t appropriately personalized, marketing investments may result in a negative experience for the customer and in a WOMBAT for you. Read, for example, the enterprise edition of my “cut the crap” post.
So, where’s the golden ratio between one-to-too-few intimate customer contacts and one-to-too-many digital interactions? Between trying to understand the needs and desires of (prospective as well as existing) customers and making them feel assaulted?
Neither loyal followers or casual readers of my blog should be surprised that speaking and demoing at customer and industry events is one of my favorite marketing outreach alternatives. These events can take different forms and be public or private. But their overall goal is to bring current and potential customers together to network and learn from each other – and of course from you. The fact that people are attending a specific event is already a proof of their interest in the topic and/or your solution. Obviously, you shouldn’t deliver a pushy product presentation. As listed in my five do’s and don’ts for speakers at B2B events, the audience is not travelling lots of kilometers, and probably paying lots of money to get a hard sales talk, a product pitch or a promotional speech for your company.
Events will also give you an opportunity to connect face-to-face with (future) customers, as a first step towards creating intimacy. Even a digital pioneer like Salesforce.com considers bringing current and potential customers together a powerful tool: in his book “Behind the Cloud,” Marc Benioff’s reported how Salesforce’s City Tours enabled the company to close deals with 80 percent of new prospects.
And, last but not least, existing customers will have the opportunity to network with peers while they may recommend your products or services the newcomers. There’s no better coffee break than fika and there’s no better (and cheaper) marketing tactic than word of mouth…