eCommerce Insiders

Shrink Your Market: Strategies Online Retailers Should Steal from B2B Marketing

Instead of simply copying your competitors, it’s sometimes helpful to take a look at your online retail business with fresh eyes.  How about some brainstorming that begins by looking at a completely different business model.

A few months back, I published an article “Top 3 Strategies Retailers Can Steal from Subscription-Based Businesses“.  Continuing in this vein, let’s look at some methods used by B2B marketing to attract and retain customers.  Think through how you can apply this to your own business.

How many profitable customers are in your universe?

B2C companies have the luxury of millions of potential customers.  Mass advertising makes sense… they can blanket their message with reasonable hope of a return.  B2B companies, on the other hand, often have a target of less than a million potential customers worldwide.  Sometimes prospective customers may only number five figures.

If your market suddenly shrunk by a factor of 10, how would you remain profitable?

The reality is that your most profitable customers are only a small subset of your entire market.  Treat these prospects as gold.

How will you reach this small subset?  You can answer that question by asking additional questions:  What do they all have in common?  Do they follow a similar purchasing path before reaching your market?  Are there other businesses you can partner with that are along this path?

B2B marketing can be very expensive and time-consuming.  Reaching your ultra-profitable prospects takes a different mindset.  It’s not just about finding them and creating brand awareness.  You have to become, as near as possible, a trusted friend.  You’ll get more results, B2B or B2C, sending 10 messages to 1,000 people than one message to 10,000 people.

Is your work done after the initial sale?

B2B marketing certainly puts a lot of work into gaining new customers, from lead generation to qualification to sales to the eventual close.  Yet they know that the real money will be made on subsequent purchases from this new client.  Remember, they have a limited supply of these profitable customers.  Once you’ve got one to trust you, you NEVER want them to entertain the thought of going to a competitor for future purchases.

Relationship marketing is critical.  Perhaps your average order value strips your ability to invest in a sales force.  But there must be a segment of your most profitable customers where some personalized hand-holding and continued relationship management makes sense to your bottom line.

Bottom line: find & retain your most profitable customers.


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