By Ashley Friedlein , founder and CEO Guild
We’re probably all familiar with the notion that it’s five times more expensive to win a new client than to retain an existing one, but in the current environment that can be easier said than done. As even the most loyal of clients are forced to hold back on budget, and with competition becoming fiercer in almost every industry, B2B marketers are struggling.
Click-through rates and engagement metrics are dwindling, and almost every marketing channel feels oversaturated; typical B2B tactics and strategies are becoming stale and outdated.
With almost every B2B marketer following the same playbook, it’s time to develop a new play. Community Based Marketing can be that play.
The concept of community is definitely starting to see a revival, as social distancing and remote working leave us seeking human contact, wanting to feel part of something bigger. Playing into these needs and adopting Community Based Marketing into your strategy can help you build stronger, longer, relationships with your customers.
What is CBM and why is now the right time?
The definition of a B2B community is a “group of professionals drawn together by a shared interest and held together over time by mutual support or benefit.”
Community Based Marketing, therefore, is about bringing together these professionals around a shared practice or area of expertise in order to create closer, and more valuable, relationships with prospects and customers.
It’s so relevant right now because so many of us are lacking the interactions from being in the office, or from networking, meetings, or events. A digital community allows us to share ideas, get second opinions, check best practice, as well as feel encouraged and supported. If a business can draw like-minded people together for meaningful conversations on digital forums, networks and apps, they can create a strategy that goes beyond sales, and towards nurturing long term customers, advocates and referrals.
Creating a loyal customer base using Community Based Marketing
These kinds of bonds cannot be forged overnight. Community Based Marketing is a longer term strategy that sees you carefully develop these relationships over time. In order to get your group running and gain momentum, whilst still maintaining the right culture, there are a few things to bear in mind:
Selecting the right technology
Factors that dictate your decision may include the size of your business, the size of your industry, the nature of what you do, as well as what you’re trying to achieve. CBM can be undertaken with a number of goals in mind, from retaining customers, to gaining market insights. Practicalities of the platform should also be considered, such as how user friendly it is, as well as security. For example, whilst WhatsApp for Business could be an easy and familiar option, it might not be right for a B2B audience due to data privacy laws.
Assigning the best host
The right community leader can make or break this venture. A careful blend of skills is needed. Someone with enough clout in your industry to attract the influential figures you’re looking to reach is essential, but you’ll also want someone perceptive enough to ‘read the room’ and make important decisions over when to step in and when to step back. A conversation starter is essential, as is someone sympathetic and well-respected in your field.
Consistency is key
Particularly in the early days of a new community, consistency can be really helpful for setting expectations and getting your group into a rhythm. Barren spells followed by a frenzy of activity tells your audience you haven’t quite found your feet yet, and they may feel either overwhelmed by the amount of messages to sort through, or left wondering if the group is worth their time. Assigning certain times or days of the week to different types of content or activities, whether that be introducing new joiners, sharing pitches, or holding Q&A sessions can be a good way to encourage engagement.
Whether you’re looking to reach a new audience, or keep your current customers closer, Community Based Marketing is worth every bit of effort to gain the attention, action and loyalty of the people most valuable to you.