If you work in B2B marketing your brain is probably fizzing away with new ideas on how to solve the never ending question – how do you affect purchase decisions to alter buying behaviour?
Of course, if there was a simple answer, we’d all be living in the Bahamas, but there is a very good way to give yourself a much better chance of retaining and attracting customers – whilst also reducing your promotional merchandise costs.
So – from the beginning…
The B2B sales cycle is usually long, run across multiple devices, with multiple decision makers, lots of ups, a few downs, but with hopefully – the sale at the end. A long sales cycle means that the buyer’s focus is drawn out, focused on the long term and considered, instead of the ‘impulse decision’ of B2C marketing.
It also means that keeping a customer is incredibly important – the loss is felt much more keenly in a B2B setting than in a quicker paced world on B2C or Ecommerce.
In short, it can be less of a sales funnel and more of a…leaky bucket – where you spend half your time with one bucket, collecting leads and keeping them on track towards purchase, and the other half plugging any leaky gaps so you ensure customer’s value your brand and remain loyal.
It’s all very glamourous isn’t it?
One thing we can all get behind from B2B to B2C is people need an incentive to buy. We’re all human and whether it’s a new bit of software, office premises or just a new business insurance provider – we need to be moved to action. That could be the stick – eg ‘You’ll Miss Out!’ or it could be a carrot – an incentive, a bonus, points, a freebie.
Whilst ‘the stick’ has it’s uses, most people respond to perks and incentives. If you work in B2B marketing the chances are that you give away pens and sweets at trade shows you attend, or maybe you send over a branded calendar and a boozy hamper every December to your favourite customers. You could be spending hundreds or thousands on ‘behind the scenes’ branded gifts of this nature – but how do you track their return?
Whilst we love branded merchandise as much as anyone else (who doesn’t keep a great stress ball?) any incentive, promotion or gift will cost your company something, so you need to make sure that whatever incentive you use actually causes prospective customers to take the next step in their buying process.
Coming from a gift card and eCode perspective, this is a really interesting principle for us. Because gift cards are trackable – we get the unique position to actually see the effects of giveaways and incentives!
We also hear about the success that B2B marketers have when they switch to using gift cards and eCodes as incentives to buy or as rewards for long term loyalty instead of low value goods, straight price reductions or ‘thrown in’ freebies.
Why does it work?
Anecdotally you can feel that there is a real excitement in the act of redeeming a gift card that just isn’t replicated anywhere else and it really prolongs the ‘feel good feeling’ of a reward. A great meal out, a contribution to a holiday, a shopping trip– gift cards that can provide this type of experience are all great talking points for you sales representatives and account managers.
So - take a look at how many hampers you I intend to buy your loyal customers this year, and put away the order form for 1000 branded pens. If you want a discount that really works, a gift card can make all the difference.
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