Business to business (B2B) marketing presents different challenges when compared to business to consumer (B2C) marketing. Consumers tend to be brand loyal. Once they are “locked” into a brand, it is difficult to woo them away. Businesses also have brand loyalty, but consumers are more likely to change vendors if they feel other companies’ offerings will have a positive impact on their bottom line. In fact, in many cases, the bottom line is all that matters. So, whether real or perceived, if your product and/or service appears to be overpriced or underperforming, they will take their business elsewhere.
As a marketing strategist, I have worked with many companies who really do not know or understand how their B2B customers perceive them. I have seen business owners and CEOs turn devastated over losing a long-term client. It is often difficult to step outside of your company and objectively gauge market demand for your own products and/or services. In some cases, the executive team is so concerned about everyday operations that they are reluctant to seek or consider outside counsel or criticism. Sadly, when this happens, it generally is the beginning of the end. On the other side, companies like GlobalResponse.com and simplymeasured.com are offerings suite of B2B marketing services/products with an in-built intelligence and monitoring features to ensure effective engagement with each business prospect and clients available for your business online.
It is human nature to avoid negative feedback. However, it is the constructive criticism we tend to dodge that could help a businesses boost its share of the market. Regardless of what B2B product or service you provide – from Wi-Fi to water coolers – you can put negative feedback to work, by analyzing it to make your offerings more appealing to your customers.
Let’s examine some areas you can use negative feedback to gain a competitive advantage.
Evaluate Price Points
Understanding your price points and how they compare to your competitors is imperative, especially with B2B products and/or services. You should continually evaluate your pricing. If you do not do this on a regular basis, you can count on your customers to do so for you! Negative feedback can impact your business with regards to your pricing or positioning.
A higher price point may be warranted if your offerings include extras or incorporate added benefits. However, if you are not positioned properly, you may blend too much with a competitor’s lower-priced, inferior product. On the other hand, negative feedback may help you realize whether your product is overpriced or underpriced. Examining negative customer feedback pertaining to price can help you make necessary adjustments to remain competitive.
Ascertain Relevance of Your Current Products and/or Services
This is a big one. Sometimes a company operates so far inside their own box, they lose touch with the relevance of their offerings. Negative feedback about your products and/or services can bring your attention towards what is currently in demand. Technology changes rapidly and so does business. If a company views your products and/or services as obsolete, a competitor promising the “latest and greatest” will easily tempt them. Negative customer feedback can throw light on what adjustments you need to make to remain on the cutting edge.
Determine Whether To Diversify Offerings
Many companies get so caught up in the status quo, they fail to plan ahead. Businesses who continually diversify their offerings to meet market demands are the ones that survive and prosper. I have experienced this in my own practice. When I started consulting in 2006, my business was comprised largely of clients desiring traditional marketing and public relations. As social media took hold, I recognized the need to study the trends and include social media strategies as part of my repertoire. When a customer’s feedback indicates your company is not completely fulfilling a demand or need, take time to consider their thoughts and gauge the possibility of diversifying your offerings.
Business owners and company executives often panic when they receive negative feedback, online or otherwise. If you can learn to embrace it, you can make it work for you rather than against you. And if you are able to identify the person posting or providing a negative comment, make every effort to reach out to them. Let them know their feedback is important and that their satisfaction is your number one goal. If they know you take their feedback seriously and are willing to take steps to continually improve your products and/or services, they are more likely to remain loyal. Good luck!