Anthony Cashel, UK Marketing and Operations Director for leading global mobile payments company PayByPhone, discusses the complex challenges of tackling multiple customer groups
Customer relationships are vital. Brands live and die by them. Customers will choose the brands they like but stay with the brands they trust. Building these customer relationships is time-consuming and like any relationship, they can sometimes be fragile things.
For marketing teams up and down the country, annual budgets are committed, and hundreds of hours are spent on activities to nurture and to grow these connections, day in, day out. It’s an entire industry focused on these customer-brand relationships.
Now consider those marketing teams who deal with not one, but two entirely different, diverse stakeholder groups, simultaneously, nurturing each in completely different ways.
The business-to-business and business-to-consumer divide
Dealing with diverse stakeholder groups who want entirely different things from the same brand is a complex strategy. At PayByPhone, this is exactly what we face. We have B2B clients – local authorities and parking operators, for example – and we have B2C customers – the drivers who are parking their cars. We’re lucky to have a team of 14 covering all aspects of marketing and operations but we need it; we have more than 150 B2B clients and upwards of 12 million registered UK users. It’s a big and exceedingly complex job especially as the needs of the two stakeholder groups are so very different and distinctive. So, we approach building those relationships from a higher level.
For example, how we as a business treat our planet matters to us; this forms the basis of our business decision-making. From there, we implement separate, stakeholder-relevant activity for our B2B and our B2C customers. That way, they each get that message but in a way that is appealing and appropriate to each of them. The activities certainly won’t be the same, but the core of who we are – who our brand is – will be.
Building brand equity
For many brands, a big risk with that fragile customer relationship is the transactional nature of it. And let’s face it, some customers can be fickle. It’s vital for brands to move the needle from being in the risky transactional space, to the more reassuring and comfortable position where you are a brand of choice. This is the rarefied air where brand loyalty kicks in, and value and trust are paramount.
Brands can only achieve this level of customer relationship with long-term, positive communication that drives engagement. This must be backed up with superlative customer support. And even if you manage to reach this pinnacle, there’s no resting on your laurels. You must work every day not only to stay there, but also to improve, because while getting there is one thing, staying there is quite another.
Staying ahead of competitors
The other essential part of customer relationships is setting your brand apart from the competition. While you’re working hard to build those customer relationships, except in rare circumstances, you will have competition breathing down your neck every step of the way, waiting to lure your customers from you. Often what sets a brand apart is not a better mousetrap, but rather the brand’s ethics, emotional intelligence or even the extra mile it goes to be the best.
So, next time you’re wondering how to improve your marketing, or planning how to get more out of a campaign budget, think instead about how best to nurture your customer relationships. Working on that will help you develop a brand that customers want to buy into, and not just buy from. Because if you aren’t thinking about that, your competitors are.