3 things B2B marketers can learn from retailers.

It has been said that for a retail business to be successful, it must focus on three things: location, location, and location. B2B marketers also have three important areas of focus to achieve success: target, target, and target.

Key people in a networked crowd.Reaching the most qualified companies and titles is still the most important element in every outbound B2B marketing campaign. The best way to identify that target is to build a profile of best customers and apply that profile against the marketing lists (email or mail) selected for outbound campaigns.

Best customers are those who meet most of the following criteria:

  1. Lifetime Value: Generated the greatest revenue.
  2. Number of Products and Services Purchased: Purchased the most products and the most profitable products.
  3. Loyalty: Remained customers the longest.
  4. Service Effort: Do not require excessive levels of service or support.

Once the above customers are identified, the next step is to profile them by the following identifiable demographics, which can be applied to available mail and some email marketing lists:

  • Industry
  • Size by number of employees and/or annual sales
  • Number of locations
  • Title of decision-maker or main contact
  • SIC (Standard Industrial Code) Current systems in place (if applicable to the product being sold)

If marketers do not have that kind of detail on their customers, firms such as Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) can append that data to the customer file for a fee.

Using a profile to define what markets, companies, titles and other criteria to pursue should result in attracting more qualified leads that might close faster and ultimately be more profitable customers. It’s an important step in building strategic B2B marketing plans.

One caveat, however: Marketers should remember that their profile of best customers could be a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” That is, the profile may show only those industries, titles, company sizes and other criteria that they have targeted in the past. It may or may not reflect the universe of opportunities.

If the marketing of a wheelchair lift has always been directed at schools, the profile will show a certain size or type of school as its best customer. In this case, marketing has no way of knowing if office building developers would not be a better “best customer,” since that market is not in the database from which the profile is built.

So, profiling a company’s best customers is a smart practice. But do it knowing that current best customers may or may not reflect the possible best customers.

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