It’s tempting to call yourself a leader in product innovation. And when your products align with your core competencies, it makes sense to shout it from the rooftops.
But getting there means understanding what you’re selling and the audience coming to buy it. The danger of calling your business a product leader is that you have to have all pieces in place to back it up.
As you improve your customer experience (CX), are you positioning your product offerings in a way that effectively conveys their benefits to new and current customers?
How well do you know your company?
Far too many companies are giving consumers the wrong impression about their core offerings, which Forrester, VP, Principal Analyst Barry Vasudevan also points out.
“I often see companies trying to go in a direction that doesn’t align with their core competencies. You’ve probably seen them, too — the stodgy company that hasn’t released anything new in a decade that then says it’s the next leader in product innovation. These companies don’t seem to know themselves.”
Creating offers that align with their needs is hard when you don’t know your business or customer base.
A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study found that manufacturers’ most significant challenges revolve around resilience and defining their value proposition.
Industrial manufacturers and companies supporting them are working hard to communicate their products and value-added offerings in a landscape that’s seen a lot of upheaval over the past few years.
Over half of manufacturers spend their time and energy steering their marketing efforts toward lead generation. The other half focuses on brand awareness, sales, and increasing customer lifetime value.
But they’re still grappling with how to relay their value to create loyal customers.
For those who want to overcome this challenge and deliver better experiences in this new world, businesses have to:
- Understand where they’re starting from with the products they sell right now.
- Gather and analyze feedback gathered about their customer’s challenges, motivators, and goals.
- Use those insights to develop offers that promote and optimize their current product lines and;
- As new products are released, create messaging for those new offerings to build and enhance long-term customer relationships.
Traditional B2B organizations are making the big jump from conventional sales to a world where customers self-serve product information before they talk to a rep—if they do it all.
Industrial manufacturers relying mainly on sales calls, in-person meetings, and emails flying back and forth will have to change their rigid legacy structures or risk being left behind.
How well do you know your customers?
To lure customers away from competitors, you’ll have to fully understand what takes place in their minds as they compare one promotion to another for multiple products. According to research assessing the customer journey, B2B buyers carry out over half of the purchasing process online before they reach out to a seller.
And in 2014, Accenture produced a study reviewing the state of B2B procurement, which found that 71% of buyers would switch if the digital experience were good overall. Another 49% would do it if the actual path to purchase were smoother.
For bigger corporate purchases over $5,000, Accenture also discovered that buyers spent over three hours researching companies before spending money.
Your product messaging better make one heck of a convincing argument.
You’ll have to understand what initially drove customers to solve their most challenging problems. And what stops them from choosing your business.
It helps to have a few options to counter objections that prevent your target market from buying.
- Do you need to offer a buyout to help them get out of their current contract?
- Do you provide a dedicated account manager as part of the company’s customer service policy?
- How quickly are you able to handle customer service problems?
These are only a few questions you’ll need to answer to get to the “yes.” But optimizing your product offers becomes much easier when you have this information to develop viable solutions for potential customers.
Don’t innovate. Optimize.
Are you using the word “innovative” to talk about your business? Because this term is thrown around so much, unless you can objectively say that your company is innovating the industrial manufacturing landscape (and can prove it!), you want to focus on optimizing your existing products as part of your marketing strategy.
Now, what does this look like?
Analyze areas in the buying process causing friction
For customers wanting to buy or repurchase your products on your site, what hurdles are they encountering? If you said “none,” you may want to rethink that statement since 94% of B2B buyers run into customer experience problems online.
Chances are high that your website or online store might have a few friction points. User experience issues, contradictory product information, and weak messaging are all areas to take a look at when you want to figure out what stops people in their tracks.
A couple of examples include:
- Using heatmapping and user testing to see what customers are doing once they hit your site, check out your products, or visit cart pages.
- Reviewing what your sales team reports about customer product feedback or ordering issues.
You want to see the exact issues your customers face so you can optimize their experience online, which may lead to an overhaul of your digital properties.
Make the offers highly-targeted
Once you know what’s motivating customers to act, you can tailor relevant, exclusive offers for them. This means using highly-specific, timely messages. Your company’s messaging has to reflect your buyer’s experiences, challenges, and goals as they see them.
So take a moment and ask yourself:
- Is your current marketing copy hitting each one of your customer’s emotional buying triggers? (because there’s usually a primary one driving the purchase)
- Do your offers communicate that your products reduce or eliminate risk for customers?
- Is your marketing laser-focused on where your audience is in the buying process?
Offer optimization starts with looking at your offer from the customer’s point of view. Remove anything that inserts doubt as people make decisions about your business. And instead, create offers with hyper-relevant messaging and tailor them to what buyers want to see as they weigh their options.
Reconnect the gaps in your messaging
Buyers are inundated with sales offers, emails, and other marketing messaging—and they’re incredibly overwhelmed by it. They’re looking for high-quality messaging highlighting their most significant business challenges and giving them straightforward ways to crush them.
And it starts by understanding who the heck your customers are.
- Are you running price optimization tests to observe what customers respond to?
- Have you reviewed your sales transcripts to analyze what people say about your products? (both good and bad?)
- Is your company conducting interviews to gather insights about why they bought from you in the first place?
- Did you blow the dust off your website analytics to see what people are doing on the page?
If you feel your face growing flush because you are woefully behind in keeping up with all of this, you aren’t alone. Only four in 10 businesses with voice of customer research and customer experience initiatives measure their effectiveness.
As a result, many customer personas are grossly immature.
Optimize product offers for the long-haul
Knowing what you do and how well you do it gives your business an advantage in positioning itself to customers. It’s easier to provide an experience that satisfies rather than disappoints, making buyers feel confident in your services and products.
Because customer loyalty and repeat purchases are built on solid relationships with businesses — even if they aren’t self-proclaimed innovators.
The key to forming and keeping those coveted relationships always goes back to how well you know your audience. Since most manufacturers plan to implement or improve their CX, it’s an opportunity for you to lead the pack by truly understanding what leads consumers to buy.
By continuing to evaluate your VoC and customer experience programs, you can iterate on your product messaging and offers based on your learnings to nurture relationships long after purchase.