There are more ways than ever before to connect with your customers and prospects. You can leverage the Internet (organic and paid search), deploy email campaigns (opt-in mailing lists, e-newsletters, automated drip campaigns), and take advantage of various social media mediums (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+) to communicate and deepen ties with your intended audiences. And if all those options aren’t enough to get you excited, there are marketing automation solutions to streamline all of it!
While each of these marketing tools can be powerfully effective and necessary, there’s a crucial element that is missing: the human touch. When you greet a person you shake their hand, look into their eyes and immediately begin building a bond that an automated marketing campaign or online tool cannot match. The opportunity to connect on a more human level greatly increases your chances of building a rapport and level of trust that is needed to win business and strengthen relationships with existing clients. This doesn’t mean that you need to meet with each prospect or customer in person or else face the dire consequence of lost business, but the more your customer can interact with an individual from your company, the more trusting of and more connected to your company he or she will feel.
Some businesses are naturally more suited to facilitate this person-to-person interaction, particularly companies selling directly to the public. Examples include grocers, furniture stores and the spectrum of retail establishments you might find in any retail plaza or strip mall. But businesses in the B2B space that by definition sell their products or services to other businesses face more of a challenge to get in front of their customers.
So what is a company selling in the B2B space to do? For starters, when the choice exists to teleconference vs. hold an in-person meeting, opt for the latter. While it will be more time consuming and expensive, the power of an in person meeting will most likely far outpace the initial expense. Other more creative ideas to get quality face time with your customers could include holding customer appreciation events, forming a customer advisory board, holding invitation-only lunch and learns exclusive to your clients, and inviting your clients to an annual holiday get together so they feel part of your community.
Technology has made our lives as marketers so much easier in so many ways. We can use teleconferencing tools, email, and social media to communicate in ways that did not exist just a decade ago, saving us untold time and effort. It’s important, however, that we use a portion of that saved time to do what technology will never enable us to do – build meaningful relationships with our customers through the power of a handshake and a smile.