B2C relationship-building

One of the nice things about B2B sales is that you can make a list of potential customers and go after them one by one, relentlessly. That list can be large and it will change with time but at least it is possible to make one. 

For example, At EMcision we sell our products directly to specialized surgeons in the US and through distributors everywhere else in the world. In both cases we are able to build a list of leads that grows over time and we proactively reach out to each lead and push them along our sales funnel, hoping for a conversion . Since this list is finite, we are also able to do hyper-targeted content marketing and invite them to activities that help us strengthen our relationships with actual and prospective clients. We also build increasingly complete profiles for each of our clients. It is far from easy and my sales team works extremely hard but the process has the beautiful advantage of being predictable and repeatable.

In contrast, I have always found it much more challenging to do the same with B2C sales. Especially with a business like FreshMint where everyone is a potential customer. We can’t simply create a list of everyone in Montreal and start calling them. That would be difficult and spammy. 

Last night we ran an experiment, which I think worked really well. We hosted a taco-themed cocktail party for our top customers. What made this party special is that there was no agenda, no speech and no real objective other than getting to know our customers personally. The whole thing was a breeze to plan and execute and we got a lot out of it.

In a nutshell, here is how we did it:

  • Ranked all our customers by RFM score and invited our top 50 customers.
  • Created a simple contest on KickoffLabs for customers who are not necessarily in the top 50 and still wanted to come to the party. We picked 20 entries with an online random number generator.

About 40 people showed up and we had a great time. More specifically, this is what we got out of it:

  • Put faces to names we see almost on a daily basis in our order list. This creates an emotional bond that goes beyond a transaction. There is nothing like a doing a few tequila shots with customers to start a friendship. As a sidenote: it’s incredible how off we can be when we picture a customer or make assumptions about them vs how they are in reality.
  • Got feedback about things they liked / loved / hated about our service. Clearly this is skewed because top customers obviously think we are doing something right but still got a lot of constructive suggestions.
  • Generated new opportunities and ideas in completely new areas for us.

I realize that it might not be easy or doable to do this with every business (e.g., e-commerce company with mostly out of town customers). But I strongly encourage every business owner, especially those who are mostly online, to organize events to meet their customers face to face in a casual environment on a regular basis. The benefits are just immense. I know that we will be now running these events a few times a year.