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Marketing as a Solution to the Strategic Account Conundrum

Posted on: 16 December '09

In my last blog entitled “The Strategic Account Conundrum,” I expressed concern that approaches to strategic account management need to change to more effectively support organizations that have complex and diverse product (service) offerings. While I suggested changes to the sales aspect, I ended the blog having said very little about the potential marketing impact on account management.

In order to look and act like one company, marketing organizations need to ramp up their own programs to provide the right field support on an account-by-account basis for key clients.

Most companies spend a majority of their marketing budget on early-stage customer acquisition and very little on cultivating client relationships. This, in spite of the fact that we all know there is a much lower cost of sale associated with up-selling into existing clients versus acquiring new ones. Those that do spend on client marketing may be wise to revisit the channels and initiatives used. According to Forrester Research1, most marketers (75%+ in a recent survey) rely on in-person meetings –at physical events or 1-1 with an executive in their office–to build upon existing relationships.

This is where social channels may play a more prominent role in customer account management in the future. Forrester suggests a holistic approach to account management marketing-one that combines online and offline activity-will build greater relationships. I completely agree. Why online? Because executives love talking and learning from their peers. Product and service reviews; case studies; best practices; trends and testimonials are more easily shared through online communities. Physical events, because of planning and cost, can really only cultivate an existing relationship 1-2 times a year. Is that enough? I invite our clients to events all the time, sometimes even promising to pick up the travel cost. While appreciative, most of them say no, citing an inability to get out of the office for 2-3 days

Enter online communities. I believe that online communities, when managed properly, could be the “gift that keeps on giving,” building a heightened level of connection and communication to your clients year-round. I came across the following 3+ video on You Tube, from Dr. Patrick Dixon, in 2008. If done right, your community initiative can help you create and market your own “tribes.”

What steps does one need to take to successfully integrate communities into an account management strategy successfully in 2010? I will write on this in my next blog.

——
1Deepen B2B Tech Customer Engagement with Community Marketing,” Forrester Research, December 9, 2009

  • Neeraj

    What you said here perfectly makes sense. “Most companies spend a majority of their marketing budget on early-stage customer acquisition and very little on cultivating client relationships.”

    Ok, we understand that social channels may play a more prominent role in customer account management in the future. It’d be good if you can highlight what should be the strategy. Usually, in a service based company once we win an account, there is no good integration between the marketing, delivery and account management team.

    So, I’d like to hear what should will be the role of each of these functions in the proposed social channel for future account management.

  • Hi Joe,
    Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a great 2010. This is an excellent post.
    I agree that social media can be an effective tool to reach out. For instance, instead of budget related seminars (Covering the aspects of the annual Finance Bill), consultancies have used Web-casts effectively. Web-casts are also used to explain important developments in the tax/audit sphere. Clients do prefer this mode as they can view it with their relevant team members from the comfort of their own office.
    Blogs are another convenient and cost effective method of reaching existing clients and attracting new ones. I personally think that blogs are more effective than newsletters as the viewer can leave comments. However, various rules and regulations prevent professional firms in India from exploiting this mechanism.
    Look forward to your next post. Happy holidays.
    Best,
    Lubna

  • I am glad you enjoyed the blog, Lubna. Thanks for continuing to read. Happy Holidays.

  • Vijay. M

    Dear Joe,

    Online communites and social networks are building up at an enormous pace. I saw the video and approve of the fact that advertising is dead in the online world. Companies making effective use of these web of communities are the ones that will combat the ever changing nature of customers who are supported by new tech.

    Regards, Vijay