Well folks, it is here. It’s Valentine’s Day and we must think about love.
Or should we? For goodness sake, what part does love play in business to business marketing? Some people think it does. In 2003, Jimmy Lee, a Vice Chairman of JP Morgan, wrote to his underlings in corporate finance ordering them to “Take the time today to call a client and tell them you love them.” It didn’t go down particularly well. His staff felt uncomfortable about the task and the responses it could encourage. His love plan died. Surely it was a high point of vanity to suggest you could call someone, with whom the only fluids you have shared is a cup of coffee, and tell them that you love them.
Now we know that things are slightly different in consumer markets. We can fall in love with a handbag, a watch, or a new kitchen. But none of this lasts. The handbag soon looks tired and you want a new one. It isn’t long before that watch you couldn’t stop looking at only tells you the time. And after a few weeks the kitchen is, well, simply a kitchen.
In the world of business to business marketing it is hard to think of customers raising their heartbeat because of their love for a supplier. That is not to say that we shouldn’t work on it. What are the things that would make a customer say “I love that supplier”? There is no need to send a dozen roses, but you could think about the following:
Be easy to do business with: It’s not good to fight. Good relationships are built on enjoying time with each other, not bickering and being difficult.
Communicate regularly: Speak often. Speak about business for sure, but don’t forget we are dealing with people. Show a personal interest.
Be absolutely honest and trustworthy: Integrity in business is everything. You want to know that the promises will be delivered.
Show respect: It is hard to love someone you don’t honour.
Sort things out: When problems or differences occur, work them out and do so quickly. Don’t leave them to fester.
Share dreams: Become a partner. Understand your customers’ goals and be proactive in helping achieve them. Do things together.