UK author and business networking strategist Andy Lopata discusses the concept of 'C2C Marketing'. In his article Andy looks at:
- How people like to buy in the modern world
- The growth of reviews and recommendations on sites like IMDB and Amazon
- The challenges facing B2B Marketing professionals
- Why referral strategies are more important than ever
"The power is in the hands of the customers".
Last month I spoke at a B2B Marketing Symposium in London, along with a number of experts and practitioners from the B2B Marketing world. Much of the focus was on how the way we market has had to change due to the huge shifts in commerce and behaviour in recent years, much driven by social networks.
One of the speakers was Gerry Brown, a senior analyst for Bloor Research. Gerry's presentation grabbed my attention as he talked about a shift from B2B Marketing to what he termed 'C2C Marketing', or Customer to Customer.
"People want to hear from other customers", said Gerry. "Don't think B2B, think C2C. How can you facilitate your customers to do your selling for you?"
Gerry's comments reflected the opening words of my new book, where I quote Grant Leboff, author of Sticky Marketing: Why everything in marketing has changed and what to do about it. "In every major channel of marketing, response rates have dropped", said Grant. "Buying behaviour has changed from the days when consumers used to make decisions based on the adverts on the television and in magazines.
"If you want to purchase a product or service today, you do one of two things - ask your network for recommendations or search online."
Referral strategies have become increasingly important in markets where competition has become fiercer and mass communication is at almost everyone's fingertips. Do a bad job and your customers will not only talk about you, they have a greater reach than ever before. But you don't need to just firefight, progressive companies also recognise that armies of customers who are used to sharing their views and their preferences with the world will happily Champion brands they are proud to be associated with.
One of the first things any new author is told to do by their publisher is to encourage readers to post good reviews onto their Amazon page. Sites like IMDB for cinema goers and TripAdvisor for travellers now mean the people are more likely to make their decision on what to see or where to holiday based on what other consumers say rather than critics or travel agents.
According to Gerry Brown, B2B Marketers are finding marketing in the modern world more demanding than ever before. In a recent survey 140 marketing professionals were asked for the one word that would describe the biggest challenge they faced. The top three areas were:
1 - Time
2 - Clarification and focus
3 - Clarity/Clutter/Relevance
Among the responses they received in the survey were:
“It's so easy to get distracted by all of the noise, new tools, etc. and spread yourself too thin”
“Too many new options. So much change is happening so quick that businesses lose focus”
“Customer scepticism - 'it's just marketers trying to get us to do/think/try something’”
“It’s tough to have so many places to market these days with no expansion of the budget! In the olden days it was so much simpler!”
A strong C2C referrals strategy offers the opportunity to overcome these challenges. Set up properly and maintained effectively your customers can be doing much of your marketing for you, freeing time to explore other routes to market while overcoming scepticism from prospects who trust the people recommending you. But it needs to be approached proactively, you need to treat C2C marketing as much a part of the marketing mix as you would more recognised and formalised routes to market.
"The power is in the hands of the customers", Gerry said in his presentation. Companies now have the choice of letting their customers decide where their business goes, or working in conjunction with them as they grow.
Are you struggling to put an effective networking or referral strategy into place? Do you want to know more about how to ensure you get the maximum possible return from your networking?
Visit Andy's website at http://www.lopata.co.uk/ for more resources and ideas about how Andy can help you.
Andy's new book, 'Recommended: How To Sell Through Networking and Referrals', will be published later this month.
“In this book Andy Lopata demonstrates how so many businesses ignore potentially their most powerful resource – their networks. Andy’s in-depth, practical advice will show you how to both build and profit from the relationships in your network.”
Ivan Misner, NY Times Bestselling author and Founder of BNI and Referral Institute
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