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Relationship Marketing?THE Paradigm for Contemporary B-to-B Marcom
As personal selling to cold prospects becomes more difficult and expensive and as business-to-business marketers come to realize the prime prospects in their niche markets are relatively few, relationship marketing becomes the priority.
First there were the separate discipline of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, sales promotion, event management and personal selling, then integrated marketing communications brought all those separate disciplines together in one combined approach to the marketplace. Relationship marketing is integrated marketing communications to qualified individuals.
For the business-to-business marketer relationship marketing has four components:
The last bullet point is why repeated direct mail canvassing of a large database to gain a few immediate prospects is not a wise relationship marketing strategy. Instead of harrassing key prospects with that kind of mail (and cheapening the perception of your company), it is better to send valuable information to a much smaller, more qualified list and create a favorable perception with them. Include qualified opinion leaders on that list. So they may digest your information and have knowledge of your products/services when asked by a decision-maker.
How do you get the attention of decision-makers, and how do you get them interested in your products or services?
Today decision-makers are scan-readers bookmarking, or rolodexing, future resources. Unless there is an immediate need, they don?t have time to thoroughly read valuable, targeted content on particular products or services, they only have time to differentiate between good content and promotional schlock. The source of the good content gets filed, put in a rolodex, or bookmarked on a Web browser for the inevitable future need. That exchange, your good content for the decision-maker?s interest and attention, is the beginning of a marketing relationship. It is no coincidence the increasing dominance of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the resulting overflow of information have made credible, targeted content important to every business-to-business sales and relationship marketing effort.
How do you stay in touch with and on the short list of the majority of your prospects who do not have an immediate need?
Canvass your select prospects regularly offering content by phone or mail in exchange for more information about their needs. They will respond as their needs change and develop, or if they tire of their current provider(s). Sometimes making it onto a short list of invited bidders is as far as the prospect will allow the relationship to develop. But if you make that short list, you are conducting a successful relationship marketing effort.
Establishing the credibility of your company?s special expertise in solving prospective purchasers problems paves the way for your sales consultants to provide the decision-maker with expert professional service to customize your offering and close the sale. The consultant is introduced into the relationship as a person possessing valuable information needed by the prospect to solve a problem.
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