Poring over (or skimming) hundreds of emails, looming deadlines, back-to-back meetings, and chatty Kathy or Larry hovering over your cube wall…there’s only so much time in a day and too many distractions one person can take.
So how do you market to someone who barely has time to refill his/her coffee and snatch the last bagel? How do you make them stop what they’re doing for one minute to read an email blast, direct mail piece or digital advertisement?
Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Before we even get to that, you want to know how an energy efficiency implementer even knows about marketing. Well, marketing is a part of our business just as much as engineering or budgeting. Since inception, it’s one of the reasons our clients reach results, both through residential outreach and B2B marketing. Today, our in-house team of marketing professionals includes 20 employees and spans everything from digital marketing to print production to A/B testing.
Okay, so now that we have street cred, back to those questions about getting business customers’ attention in a sea of swarming technologies and to-dos. Here are some proven tips (outlined in detail) that we recommend, based on our own trial and error.
It’s Called the Business World for a Reason
Businesses exist in their own realm – a world of their own. A business customer is not parallel to a residential customer. They have their own decision making process, their own challenges and their own engagement preferences. The biggest differentiator is the B2B market is more niche, more sophisticated. It’s important to first understand the type of business you’re dealing with before you roll out a marketing plan.
Once you know the type of business, flesh out the profile even further. That will help you target them with the right channels and right communications.
- Is it a hospital, retail store, restaurant, office building, school?
- How much staffing support is available? Is there an office admin?
- Main goals and objectives
- What drives the business? Products? Services? What do they aim to deliver to their customers? What is their profit margin?
- Daily challenges and even disruptions
- Is budget top of mind? Employee satisfaction? Resources available? Competition? Space availability? Operational costs? Rent?
- Reach the segment and speak to the segment
- Ex: A direct mail piece may not reach a multifamily property owner in a timely fashion. However, he/she may check email quite often for business purposes and to keep in contact with residents.
- Who is the decision maker or will spotlight business ideas?
- If it’s a large business, there may be someone who filters all communications first.
- Determine the opportunities and barriers for each customer segment, so you can truly speak to their needs and offer real solutions
- A small business may have less wiggle room to make long-term money saving investments. Get a foot in the door first with direct install, which is no cost and easy to implement.
Build and Continue Relationships
- You will likely be working with this business for an extended period of time – every interaction is make or break. First impressions start a relationship. Negative interactions break a relationship.
- Listen to the customer’s needs and follow-through with what you promise them. Don’t over promise, be honest in what can be accomplished.
- Form a trusting relationship to instill brand loyalty (piggybacking off aforementioned ‘honesty’).
- Assess the customer’s feedback when provided and make changes accordingly. Don’t only make changes that they will notice, but thank them for making your services better.
Aside from making your own assessments, there are tools you can use and your own data you can collect that will help you develop a marketing plan.
Kelsie Festerling embraces new challenges with a thoughtful approach and positive attitude. Specializing in marketing for commercial and industrial energy efficiency programs, Kelsie’s responsibilities include developing and implementing marketing plans for utility clients, working with the creative team to develop program marketing collateral, tracking results of marketing campaigns and more. She also leads event planning, including creating invitations, booking venues and manning the events. Kelsie holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.