Three aspects of great B2B client communications
Keeping a regular flow of company updates towards clients and partners sounds like one of the business fundamentals. And yet, small and medium-size business owners are often seen neglecting this communication function. Busy with other things, they will assume they don't have relevant news to share, unless it's a new office, a new product or an investment round. Such assumptions can be misleading, and cause companies to miss out on valuable opportunities to deepen their existing business ties.
Companies buying from other companies want to know how their suppliers are doing. Are they stable or shaky, growing or shrinking, investing in service quality, making good decisions...? Are they financially sound, and likely to remain partners in the long run?
A communication strategy that aims to build trust and long-term cooperation will needs to find ways to address this.
Potential of information at hand
Good companies are busy, active, always finding new ways to add value for their clients. To a trained eye, they are a wellspring of information to share with partner companies. And yet, they can have difficulties identifying news opportunities at some or all company levels. Also, they might lack the expertise needed to establish a consistent, repeatable process that will not be difficult to implement with existing resources.
Sometimes companies will reach important milestones or develop key capacities. But only the group or department involved will know about it. And even if the information finds its way to the website or company newsletter, the news item might still not resonate with clients in an optimal way. The reason for this can be in the inability to capture relevance for clients, and structure communication in ways that make it clear why an update is important for clients to know.
Many businesses are constantly improving their products and services through new equipment and methodologies. Others invest in certifications, employee education, diversity, or their own company culture. All this has an impact on the quality of services they deliver to other companies.
Events and developments like these speak volumes about how the company is run. If communicated and channeled properly, they play a vital role in reassuring clients and partners of the company standing and future prospects. In good companies, examples can be found on almost all levels. New talent is brought in, new programs have been launched, key departments reinforced, new methodologies implemented.
These are all potential news leads - beginnings of great, relevant stories about companies. Instead of letting them go unannounced, companies are well advised to collect and keep a close eye on them. Interesting news opportunities will start popping up from even the most unexpected corners of a business. Next steps will be to shape them in ways that will benefit the company reputation in the eyes of its clients.
A surprising number of companies don't fully use their websites in the placement of company updates. Yet, if clients and partners don't visit the company website, some form of a push strategy is also needed. It is important that what's published on the website reaches the intended audience.
Social media channels can be very powerful in this regard. But again, only if the company or its key people have active connections and followers among clients and partners. In some industries, social networks can be vital for news distribution. They also show companies how their updates perform in terms of impressions, likes and shares.
Social media channels are more suitable for certain demographics than others. Their influence in B2B communication can differ from country to country, too. So it's important to have realistic expectations about what this channel can actually do for a company in this particular communication area.
Professionally edited email newsletter, targeted at relevant people in client companies, is another tool that allows companies to bring their updates much closer to those they are targeted at. In many business-to-business environments, clients are more likely to open newsletters and updates from partner companies, especially if they recognize a particular person or topic that's being
In some countries and industries, company owners and managers will be used to receiving PDF or print bulletins from their suppliers. Although they are more typical of large corporate systems, smaller businesses can also consider them as a communication tool, intended for those that depend on their products and services. Operationally, it can mean producing a print or PDF file once in 3, 6 or 12 months, and distributing it as a complement to other channels.
Some news and updates are best spread in direct contact with buyers, in meetings and trade shows. Business owners will usually make sure they don't skip the opportunity, and others might need their attention drawn to this.
Repeatable and scalable process
Many efforts in B2B client communications eventually lose momentum or fail because the process they use doesn't stand the test of time. In some cases the process can't be scaled and it collapses with major changes in the company (growth, transformation). In other instances, the process is not repeatable, and it doesn't produce a consistent, high-quality output, which is an essential measure of success.
From the process standpoint, client communications require regular production, regular distribution, editing capacity, collaboration mechanisms, monitoring, and several other capabilities. If combined well, they are able to deliver excellent results for companies in the area of B2B client communication. If critical components are missing, however, businesses can face disappointing, lower than expected performance of this function.
Interested in looking at your own process from a different angle? Get in touch and let's start a conversation.