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5 Ways Partners Can Tell Customers About New Services

Business models are changing and most partners are expanding the number of services that they offer to customers. Unfortunately, your customers don't clairvoyantly know when you add a new service line, like backup and disaster recovery or business intelligence. You need to tell them -- which requires marketing.

Fortunately, it's the easy kind of marketing. Your customers know you and will be open to hearing from you. Their contact information is already in your CRM system. There's nothing to hold you back. Here are some ideas to kick off your existing-customer marketing program.  

1. Monthly Newsletter
Sending a monthly educational update to your customers is undoubtedly the single most effective marketing tactic you can use to build deeper relationships with them. Through a monthly newsletter, you can provide valuable updates that demonstrate your knowledge and tell them about the benefits of the new services that you offer.

Find relevant, interesting material to share in every issue so that your customers look forward to opening and reading the email. There is plenty of great content that you can tap into, including:

  • Microsoft's Ready-to-Go marketing site, which has tons of content -- some obvious, some not.
  • Vendor and ISV blogs that you can link to.
  • Contributions from customers or complementary businesses that are creating content. They will appreciate the additional exposure.

2. Educational Events
Nothing replaces talking to your customers face to face. Topics should be business problem-focused, not product-focused, to appeal to a broad audience. There is no reason that you can't hold a combined event for new and existing customers. A few ideas to help you build an appealing event:

  • Organize a panel of local business leaders to discuss how they are handling a common challenge.
  • Invite a topical expert or university professor to address the future of business.
  • Partner with complementary service providers or businesses to help build out content.

3. Business-Planning Sessions
If you would like to make the transition from vendor to business partner, you need to understand where your customers are headed and help them get there. Make a list of the customers that you think have the greatest growth potential and request a meeting to discuss their growth and technology plans. You can add value by advising them on the best technology to support their growth.

The business review should be all about your customer's business, not a sales pitch. Ask questions about their plans and challenges. Listen and prepare recommendations based on their needs.

4. Networking Events
Many of your customers face shared challenges. You can position yourself as an advocate by sponsoring regular networking events that bring your customers, and potential customers, together. Networking events can be as simple as get-togethers at the local sports bar every month. Tip: Make it the same day each month, like the second Tuesday, so that it's easy for people to remember.

A side benefit of networking events is that you get regular updates on the challenges that your customers are facing. By finding solutions, you can expand service offerings to meet their needs.

5. Customer Portal
You may already have a support portal for your customers. Take it a step further and make your Web site a central hub of information. You'll need active engagement from your employees to monitor and interact with customers to keep them coming back. Some of the ways you can build engagement include:

  • A forum where customers can share problems and ideas.
  • Frequently asked questions maintained with current answers.
  • A local resource page with trusted business partners you can recommend to customers.

A key ingredient to your success in expanding service offerings is to educate your current customers. Regular marketing programs that connect you to customers will build deeper, more profitable relationships. Most of your customers will be happy to hear from you. Just try it!

How are you building relationships and sales to existing customers? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 02, 2014