I found an interesting post on Nasdaq today talking about the differences in what companies think that their customers want, compared with what their customers actually want from them. IBM carried out a study and talked to more than 1000 consumers – asking them how they used social media. Company executives were also asked their opinion about why they though consumers interacted. There are some interesting callouts from the study which seem to contradict the way that we think we use social media:
- Consumers use social networks to stay in touch with family or friends
- Consumers use social media sites to find discounts and for purchases
- Companies feel that they are under pressure to engage with their customers
- Companies believe that consumers hope to feel part of the community by this type of engagement
This is all very well in the B2C space, where, as consumers we’re searching for the best deals around. This is how Groupon has become so successful.
Groupon offers discounts (and earns its revenue by taking a fee of 50% of the Groupon offer price plus VAT). Groupon has a way of retaining their customers. Have a look at what happens when you try to unsubscribe! http://www.groupon.com/unsubscribe
Loyalty, offers, discount and deals matter in the B2C space. But what what about B2B?
With B2B relationships are important. With B2B, companies rely on their partner network to sell their services, products and licenses. I think B2B connections are all about relationships.
Sure, companies can offer their partners suppliers discounts and offers – but I don’t think that’s the only reason that partners connect. Business partners need information, news, and roadmap knowledge so that they can tailor their own businesses to align with the direction of the company. If they don’t have this early information, then a partner could invest in creating a solution offering which could be aligned with a product that is about to be sidelined or sunsetted. An investment error like this could be a significant issue for a small business – much more than a potential partner service, discount or free offer.
Customer connections matter. Relationships matter.
If you’re only aiming for a light touch or one time engagement with your customer, then a special offer will work wonders. It will initially get people through your door. It’s the relationship that you have with the customer after that first contact that might keep them coming back.
And that’s all about how you make the customer feel. Part of a community that receives discounts might be the relationship that keeps them coming back to you. Ask Groupon…
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