Who is doing a stellar job of harnessing the power of their client base?

19114332 I gave a presentation on branding in Marco Island, FL (not a bad gig in January) and have since struck up an e-mail conversation with a gentleman from the UK who was there.

He asked me a question that I’m not sure I know the answer to….so I thought I would ask you.  I am confident that you’ll know.

Do "we" know of some other B-to-B companies who are doing a stellar job of marketing to their existing client base to generate additional projects/revenue (in other words…turning clients into a referral source)?

What say you?  Do you have some examples of work you’ve done for a client?  Case studies you’ve read?  Other blog posts you could point us to?  Something you are doing inside your own company?

14 comments on “Who is doing a stellar job of harnessing the power of their client base?

  1. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    Funny you should ask that now. Just read (2 min. ago!) another excellent blogpost from Paul Gorman:
    http://www.leavetheminthedust.com/?p=87
    on one of the best ways to keep in contact with your existing client (b-2-b or not). We’ve been doing that ourselves for years now and it is working good (by normal mail and with monthly newsletters (since Nov using AWeber for the latter).

    Your UK friend might find the blog useful too, filled with many tips/advice on the subject he’s looking into.

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Csalomonlee says:

    That’s a very good question that I think companies (including ourselves) struggle with. Many would consider this a lead nurturing program. From that perspective, I would look at Brian Carroll’s blog, Start with a Lead (http://blog.startwithalead.com/).

    Our efforts have mainly been to distribute updated news and information in as many formats/places as possible: bi-monthly newsletter, RSS feeds, login to our customer front in and website.

    I also think a strong customer program helps in this process as well. A friend works for Riverbed and they have an active program. By building your customer evangelists, you are demonstrating the value to your customers and prospects. I’m unsure if she tracks how her efforts have directly or indirectly impacted projects/sales. I’m more than happy to intro you to her. Just let me know.

  3. Karin H. says:

    Talking about a strong customer relationship management program, I can highly recommend Mamut. We are using it for over two years now and it pretty much ‘automated’ too. Very versatile, flexible and user-friendly.
    Wrote various post on Mamut too on my own blog:
    http://www.thekissbusiness.co.uk/2008/05/mamut-and-myob.html

    Karin H

  4. It’s not just about communicating TO customers, but creating interactive opportunities. Companies that are successful with this bring customers together with each other into communities – both online and in person. That’s through online customer forums, user groups, user conferences, customer advisory boards, etc.

    Amdocs brings together say 5 executives of customer companies for a day of high-level networking or an event with its CEO. Kronos has an annual conference and prestigious awards program.

    Bringing those customers together to share ideas and network creates a ton of goodwill for the vendor company.

    Casey

  5. Karin,

    So I can see that’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers. How do you take that to the next level and get them to actively create referral business for you?

    Drew

  6. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    Incentives are part of our ‘automated’ message to existing clients. An incentive to ‘ease pain’ in the maintenance of their wooden floor, which surprisingly has the benefit of easy maintenance 😉 Contradiction? Not really: many of our clients ask us to do the maintenance for them once a year (we recommend twice a year, so the other one they do themselves). Getting this service for free works as a good incentive we’ve noticed (because as with everything, we’ve tried out various incentives).

    And we also get many referrals from brand new clients when they’re very happy and satisfied with the work we’ve done (even if it’s just arranging the delivery of the materials).

    Karin H.

  7. CeCe,

    Thanks for your input. In your communications — do you blatantly ask for referrals? Do you have any way of tracking or knowing where your leads come in from?

    Brian’s blog is an excellent one — thanks for the intro to that!

    Drew

  8. Karin,

    I went to the Mamut site — it’s not in English! But then I found the English button. For a minute, I was pretty impressed with your bi-lingual skills!

    How do you use this software? I saw on your blog that you’ve now advanced your use to include their accounting module. But before that…how did you use this differently than AWeber?

    Drew

  9. Casey,

    So true — people want to connect in a way that meets their needs. If you can be a company who makes that happen, you will earn loyalty, respect and eventually you will earn their business.

    Thanks for providing the examples!

    Drew

  10. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew
    (Bi-lingual I am, triple even: Dutch, English and German and some ‘left-over French too if needed: Dutch education system ;-))

    Mamut versus AWeber:
    Mamut in after sales: the ‘old-fashion’ ‘snail-mail’, personalised automated letter every 6 months to remind our clients of our maintenance services and new product etc.
    Mamut for pre-sales: personalised automated quotes, order confirmations, feedback forms, maintenance leaflets (all can be send by email or ‘snail-mail’) and anything else you can think of. Now with the accounting module attached to it: purchase linked to sales orders where it’s possible to update the costs price of the order as soon as the purchase invoice comes in: automated 😉

    AWeber in after-sales: monthly newsletter
    AWeber in pre-sales: automated delivery of our product leaflets per email, personalised ‘hand-written’ email answers to questions or quotes requested through the extended AWeber webforms, blog-alerts etc etc etc.

    Two very powerful marketing tools I can recommend to everyone, both companies with excellent customer service and quick technical support.

    Karin H.

  11. Karin,

    When your customer provides a referral — do you either offer them an incentive on the front end or do anything after the referral was made?

    Drew

  12. Karin,

    How the heck did we market our businesses before these remarkable types of tools?

    Can you imagine going back to pre-internet ways?

    Drew

  13. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    We have a majority of front-end clients – that on its own is hard work – ‘cos how many wooden floors do you need in a year? The back-end are our maintenance products and maintenance services. So we remind our clients on a regular bases of these products and service.
    All reminders also include the mentioning of the incentive for referrals. So back-end before the referral is made?

    As for pre-internet ways, our company is 5 years old – young – this year, so we’ve used internet tools all along 😉 And keep maximising them of course, by testing, trying and measuring.
    Wouldn’t want to have made do with pre-internet marketing tools only though 😉

    Karin H.

  14. Karin,

    Wow, only 5 years old. Congrats! And you’re right, based on your business model (and success stories) the internet has clearly been your friend!

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the next 5 years.

    Drew

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