Weekly thoughts from within the B2B marketing trenches. Every week, I’ll be sharing a spontaneous post inspired by what the evolution of B2B marketing looks like from deep within its trenches. Why? Because the change is first and foremost a mindset and we can all help each other adjust, learn and grow. Let me know what you think!
How is Customer-led Growth fueling Community-led Growth?
“A community is a group of people who agree to grow together”, Simon Sinek
I am a B2B marketer.
When I need inspiration I go to the big online community in the clouds known as Google.
When I want a solution to a problem I am having with my software, I go to the user community.
Even the companies that develop that software, send me to the community for solutions, and you know why? Because nobody knows better than the user.
When I could really use a leg-up on a new program I’ve been tasked with building, I join a community of people in my field. Then I get both the valuable assistance I need, and the added value of a restored faith in humanity. In here, there is no place for competition, and my fellow members aren’t here to sell me anything. Win, win.
When I want to develop content that will convince my audiences of the benefits of using my company’s solution or service, in an effective and credible way, I…
… source a brief from my SME (internal expert),
I create an outline and a time-lined plan for the piece/s informing of required resources,
I look at “what’s out there” to ramp and seek out that spark of inspiration,
I draft a piece and fine-tune it for waaay too long,
submit it for review and comments,
I then get a completely new brief because someone read something online and ‘that’s what we should be saying’.
Eventually, that piece gets out.
My company now has a new piece of content to leverage for inbound, we measure, we tweak, we move on. My goal was marked complete.
Enter the Era of Customer-led Growth
My company recently hired a Customer Marketer to build out an advocacy program. She has been tasked with identifying and recruiting advocacy candidates to a champions program that will listen to and reward customers for their input. Her goals are tied into everything the company does, from creating compelling customer-led content to tracking its impact all the way to revenue.
Her process is as follows:
- When she wants inspiration, she goes to our Customer Community.
- When she wants to know what customers are saying about our product’s feature X, Community.
- When someone in the Community mentions a challenge our solution has helped them with, she feeds it back into our demand gen efforts.
- When someone complains about some friction somewhere in your product or service she delivers an opportunity to improve.
- When she wants to learn more about how to roll out, scale and succeed with her programs, she turns to the world’s most supportive customer marketing community.
You get where this is going, right?
While Community as a means of gathering your customers around a shared goal has always been understood by SaaS leaders, as we move towards Customer-led Growth (CLG), Community is becoming all-powerful. So, why is it that CLG is driving the evolution of Community?
If you haven’t yet related to all-of-the-above, here are 6 concrete reasons this is happening:
- B2B is waking up to a new reality (we call it Customer-led Growth), whereby customers are the new everything. They’re your best demand generators, your best content creators, your best problem solvers, your best feedback resource, and basically every marketer’s new best friend. Customers do their best work when they gather in communities.
- Success in rolling out a Customer Marketing strategy is dependent on achieving good engagement throughout the lifecycle and then leveraging that newly open channel to deepen the relationship, build trust, and put your customers on a path to Advocacy. That path goes straight into and through your customer community.
- Communities are an all-powerful Customer Marketing channel because they facilitate dialog that can tell you everything you need to know about your customers, your audiences, your company’s performance and your profession. In the age of VoC, this is pure gold for everyone and everything in your business.
- The concept of Community has already taken big evolutionary steps, from a technical product support tool, to a full-blown relationship-building hub. And now, as we move towards CLG, this continues to grow and evolve – possibly endlessly! Forward-thinking companies are already exploring the broadening of the concept to include not only customers, but partners, employees, vendors and beyond. To me this is nothing short of mind-blowing.
- And then, the really compelling value of being good at Community is the ability to identify opportunities for your company to improve on every level. Community is where you learn how to increase the value your company delivers to your customers. It’s where your customers help others solve problems and teach you to do the same.
- And as if this wasn’t enough, the added value of Community lies in its ability to tell you how to market better, because you get to really know your customers and your users.
The concept of being Customer-led is changing everything in B2B and Community is where you can hear its heartbeat loudest. As we continue our own path of transformation as a B2B SaaS provider, another truly revolutionary/ evolutionary phenomenon I’ll be watching closely is the need for collaboration across teams. Customer-led growth gathers customers in the community, but it also gathers teams around the customer. Under this premise, Customer Marketing is an inherently collaborative function. Have you been seeing more of this too?
Crowdvocate Webinar: The Role of B2B Communities in Customer Engagement & Advocacy