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13 Marketing Ideas To Help Partners Build Customer Lifetime Value

The cloud changes the nature of both transactions and interactions between Microsoft partners and customers. Incremental revenue means customer retention is critical to long-term profits. At the same time, the automation of cloud applications means there is less personal interaction between customers and employees.

To address both issues, partners need to take a more active approach in keeping communications lines open and maintaining relationships.

Keeping the lines of communication open doesn't require a big investment of money, but it definitely requires an ongoing investment of time. Sporadic communication doesn't show commitment. Communication and marketing plans designed to build customer relationships should be formally scheduled and consistently executed.

To achieve that consistency, you need programs that your teams will get behind. Marketing in today's world is a team sport. As you consider the ideas below, think in terms of how they fit the skills and interests of your team. What activities will your consulting and marketing teams follow through on consistently?   

  1. Expand your support portal. Take your support portal a step further, making it a central hub of information and a place where customers can interact with your employees. The portal should have a modern look and feel -- not like a 1990s Web page -- to show your customers you care about their experience.

  2. Create Yammer groups. Use Yammer groups to build an active community of customers and employees. Take the initiative to reach out to customers often with conversations to get them in the habit of looking to the group for answers.

  3. Segment your audience. The more you can fine tune your message to customer interests, the more likely they are to pay attention. Profile your customer base, looking for similarities in industry, number of employees, location and other characteristics. Create special interest groups on Yammer or create multiple versions of your newsletter to provide targeted information to each audience.

  4. Hold a regular in-person event. If you work primarily with local companies, sponsor a monthly happy hour or a quarterly CIO dinner.

  5. Advocate for your customers. Ask customers to speak at your events, providing them with exposure to a local audience.

  6. Send a handwritten note to one customer every week. Taking the time to write a personal note thanking a customer is more valuable than ever before. It's a powerful tactic that takes very little time.

  7. Tell stories about your customers. Use case studies to showcase how your best customers are reaping the benefits of working with you. Be creative and don't get bogged down with writing long case studies. Conduct interviews and post the questions and answers, or capture the interview on video and post to the customer portal.

  8. Introduce new customers. When you add a new customer, ask them if you can post a story about their business.

  9. Test your current systems. All your marketing efforts are for naught if customers get frustrated trying to solve a problem or ask a question. Test every entry point into your company to make sure that your customers won't hit any dead ends or frustrating loops.

  10. Reward your customers. Everyone loves a special deal. Delight your customers with a coupon for services or a free training session. Let them know that their business is just as important to you as attracting new customers.

  11. Have fun. The services you deliver are serious business, but that doesn't mean your communications should be lifeless. Think outside the box, try some creative approaches and add some lightness to your customers' day.

  12. Be your customers' "inside" connection to Microsoft. As their partner, your customers should think of you first when they have a Microsoft-related question. Be ready. Since the amount of information coming out of Microsoft is overwhelming, share the load. Assign specific topics to employees, whose job is to stay current with all things related. With a "go-to" list of employees who know the answer (or know where to find it quickly) you can become the trusted source for all things Microsoft.  

  13. Hire a customer lifetime advocate. As your book of recurring revenue grows, retaining those clients is as important as marketing for new ones. There comes a time when your business will need someone devoted to executing programs that keep customers happy and connected. 

Of course, the most important ingredient in retaining customers is providing high-quality, relevant services. For guidance on delivering and measuring customer relationships, Part 5 of Microsoft's Cloud Partner Profitability Series, "Deliver Customer Lifetime Value," is a great resource. And, as you plan out your service strategies, include ongoing communication and marketing as a critical component.

How are you building loyalty with your customer base? Send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 22, 2017


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