These days customer marketing -- including customer engagement and advocacy -- often collaborate with customer success department efforts. In fact, customer marketing may sit within the customer success department. This is not uncommon, especially in business-to-business (B2B) software organizations.
Having these disciplines' separated as different, though related, functions is often how mid-market and/or enterprise level B2B software organizations operate. This makes some sense, as these sized organizations likely have more resources (financial and human) to operate and scale these functions within their organization, and at various customer interaction levels (i.e. tech touch, low touch, and high touch).
But I think many smaller B2B companies are seeing the effects of the pandemic on their own business economy and understand that building a repeatable process to accelerate customers' success using their products/services while engaging and cultivating those customers into trusted partners and brand advocates, can help weather similar storms in the future.
In other words, I think even smaller businesses are realizing they need some level of customer marketing and customer success to compete in the latest, and forthcoming post-COVID, version of the customer economy.
But how does a small B2B organization employ customer marketing and/or customer success functions with little headcount and even less budget?
Well, I think smaller B2B organizations will start to develop a hybrid version of tech touch customer marketing and customer success that will help engage and cultivate customers into brand advocates, but also drive customer community collaboration (i.e. peer-to-peer help from customer to customer towards success with the product).
We already see this in larger mid-market and enterprise organizations, but it's usually a combination of tech touch, low touch, and high touch customer interactions across the customer marketing and customer success functions. The effect of their impact ripples through the support department, product development, and of course sales and marketing.
Building successful relationships with your customers who want to advocate on behalf of your brand becomes a force multiplier in an organization's marketplace credibility, growth, and revenue. However, such efforts are not a quick win. Just like any relationship it takes time to build appropriate trust to then leverage that trust for mutual benefit, gain, and success.
Like inbound marketing in the recent past allowing smaller organizations to compete with larger, better resourced companies via content and SEO, customer marketing and customer success practices can help smaller organizations survive otherwise devastating economic blows from unforeseen forces.
This is because, if you have a community of customers who love your brand, that advocacy helps insulate you from customer churn while helping accelerate customers' success with your products/services and expanding/extending their lifetime value to your organization. This also supplies your brand with more marketplace credibility, which makes sales and marketing growth goals easier to achieve.
The trickiest part for small B2B companies leveraging some form of customer marketing and customer success is getting creative with limited resources to define and successfully execute an effective strategy. When headcount, finances, and tools (tech stack) are limited it takes the right kind of marketer to put even a simple solution, using ubiquitous, often disparate, tools together.
However, it is possible, and I believe you'll end up seeing more technology tools become available in the next several years designed specifically for the SMB space to scale and automate more of their customer marketing and customer success functions.
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