Business owners who see themselves serving only a consumer-based market (business to consumer or B2C) will often overlook the untapped potential of leveraging their existing business-to-business relationships or (B2B).
To illustrate this point, let me share an anecdote about one of my clients who owns a busy Children’s’ Psychological Services practice. She has been focusing her marketing efforts primarily to the parents and teachers. I recently pointed out to her that a significant portion of her income stream comes from referrals from a government-based organization. By incorporating a Business-to-Business (B2B) relationship strategy, she can fortify this stream of revenue. By taking simple steps, such as touching base with her government agency contact once a month and perhaps a check-in visit every other month, she can develop a stronger rapport with the agency. She will also be in a position to anticipate changes in government policy or to be apprised of public consultation on policies that may affect her business.
Once a business owner recognizes B2B relationships that impact the business, a corresponding message to promote the business can be shaped. In my client’s case, her messaging to foster the B2B relationship with the government agency would be about her company’s history and track record first and then about her clients’ pleasant customer experience. A parent, on the other hand, will be more interested in how he ‘feels’ about the services his child receives and whether the child remains enthusiastic in returning for further sessions. Once the B2B-B2C distinction is made clear, the business owner can shape the message that resonates best with the target audience.
There are other types of B2B relationships that many business owners enjoy but may not be leveraging well. One client of mine operates a fitness center in Ireland and has established a goal to increase revenues by 40%. We discussed several growth strategies including increasing the class size which would involve investing in more equipment. When I discovered she had a healthy relationship with the nearby school, I proposed a different strategy that did not require any capital investment to grow her business.
I pointed out to her that by leveraging the relationship with the school system, she can promote a parent-tot fitness program to parents picking up their children from the after-school program. She can create a new class at a time that works best for parents and utilize the existing space and equipment. By leveraging her affiliation with the school system and promoting her programs to a captive market, she is in a position to achieve her growth target in 2018.
Taking the time to identify B2B relationships that need to be nurtured is an essential part of any business growth strategy.