23 Jul Creating B2B Pull-through – Who’s your customer’s-customer?
There are megabytes of information online regarding both “push” and “pull” strategies for reaching your customers and driving sales. These strategies have been extensively covered in marketing texts, articles and on the internet. As a quick primer:
Push:As the name implies, this is basically a push of your product to a customer. In the B2B world, this typically involves all the traditional means by which companies market their products – trade shows, direct mail, phone calls, etc. By moving your message to the customer, you create an awareness of your product, service or solution. In a B2C environment, this is typically done at the moment of purchase through attractive point-of-sale displays so there is typically a time component to it between awareness and purchase.
Pull: The pull strategy involves creating a demand for your product so customers request it. I like to use the word “clamor” but maybe that’s a bit ambitious. In the B2C world, this involves creating content so that a retailer will carry more of of your product on a store shelf or inventory. There are myriad examples of companies that spend millions to create that pull for their products in the market – Nike, Coke, etc. In the B2B world, it is typically done by creating content that educates and draws the potential buyers to your product – media relations, speaking engagements, website SEO management and informative content that helps a customer with problem solving.
Both are key elements of a well-crafted marketing plan and strategy. However, there are often other stakeholders in the buying process – especially in the B2B world. I’m referring to your customer’s-customers. A quick search of the internet for information on “selling (or marketing) to a customer’s customer” results in well… mostly, crickets.
There is little content about how companies create end-user pull-through in an environment where their product is sold as a B2B product. Successful B2B businesses allocate a great deal of time to understanding their customers requirements – specifications, buying criteria, etc. This is critically important to selling and winning with your customer. However, the most successful and thoughtful companies take a more holistic approach to how their product will be seen or experienced through the supply chain and “pulled” by the end-users. A “pull-through” strategy might include many of the same strategies used to create pull but complemented by analysis and a messaging strategy of the following:
- Community and user groups for the products
- Targeted search engine optimization (SEO) and advertising
- End-user voice-of-the-customer (VOC) & surveys
- How your product creates value and differentiation for the end-user
Do you understand your customer’s-customer? Does your marketing strategy include a plan to gather information and learn how your customer’s-customer experiences your product? How does your business speak to them in your marketing actions and messages to create a “clamor” for your products?