Intermediaries have always been a vital part of the consumer’s experience with products. Consumers are loyal to brands, but rarely interact with the companies that produce those brands. Instead, intermediaries (such as distributors or retailers) act as the contact for the consumer. These intermediaries have been gaining the loyalty of consumers, and the profits from their loyalty.
New loyalty programs are popping up every day and are being offered to new and existing customers via social media, newsletters, and even in-store at the POS. Don’t give your competitors an advantage by waiting to see their success with their own loyalty programs because, at that point, it will be too late. It is much easier to gain a neutral customer than to convert one from another loyalty program.
Don’t become another faceless supplier
When you do not have direct contact with the consumer and the sale is handled by a distributor, the manufacturer must find ways to control the terms of the sale. In most cases, these companies are concerned with their bottom line and not the overall strength of the product they are selling, so they will choose the best deal available.
Coupled with the rise of giant online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to distinguish between the brands they purchase for each product. This leads to the customer placing their loyalty unjustly with those intermediaries instead of the people who are actually behind the creation of that product.
These giant retailers are not going away any time soon. In fact, they are actually increasing the markets they compete in and are attempting to swallow up as many industries as they can. Intermediaries are also feeling the pressure of inflation these days and are looking for cost savings wherever possible. We’ve seen companies try to account for this by offering rebates, discounts, and perks, but it just isn't enough when competing with the full-fledged loyalty programs offered by these retailers.
Connecting to your customer base
In today’s world, it seems like almost every company out there is utilizing some form of automation or management system to track activity and increase work efficiency. Why should manufacturers be excluded from this strategy? We need to turn the perception of these systems from roadblocks into areas of opportunity and growth.
As technology has continued to progress, it has become even easier for businesses to integrate these systems into their own platforms to enhance customer interactions and drive sales. By introducing a B2B customer loyalty and rewards program, you can not only connect seamlessly with the decision-makers in companies you are doing business with, but you can also increase customer retention and lifetime value.
Collect data from the sales conducted by those intermediaries, and go even further and interact with their end-consumers to find their motivations and how your product is being utilized. This deep connection with the end consumer has never been easier or more in-depth before and the feedback is priceless. Your customer engagement will be the main growth factor of your brand, so it is imperative you are doing everything to maximize the customer experience.
Loyalty programs are an investment
Costs for every part of a business have been growing rapidly over the last few years, and not all of these costs can be offloaded to your customers. Not only is it important to remain financially responsible with your production costs, but manufacturers must also remain vigilant about how much is spent on marketing, discounts, and other promotions. Investing in a smart loyalty program will allow you to turn the program from an expenditure into a powerful tool for growing your profits.
As you know by now, retaining a current customer is much less expensive than acquiring a new one. A great B2B loyalty program can help you retain your customers and the long-term revenue they generate. Loyalty program members purchase more often, spend more, and make more referrals than non-members, so building a loyal member base will only serve to increase your sales.
How a customer loyalty program can address industry challenges:
- Your program will encourage customers to form a connection with the company whose product they are using by rewarding them for their business. This will in turn create de-facto brand ambassadors in the form of businesses who suggest and sell your product and end consumers who are using your product firsthand.
- Get creative in your forms of rewarding customers for purchasing your products beyond just simple rebates, coupons, or earn and burn programs. In addition to these benefits, you will also be able to offer customers real rewards for their loyalty with a redeemable catalog of products or services. This catalog can be tailored to the program to fit their desires as they evolve.
- Loyalty program data includes more than just member transaction information. Loyalty programs also capture unique, zero-party data that can be used to personalize marketing strategies.
- Utilize AI/ML predictions to power your future plans and product launches with real customer data instead of relying on outdated models or incomplete data.
- Reward your members for non-transactional loyalty actions, such as enrolling in auto-pay to ensure more on-time payments, or leaving a review for products on your site.
- Increase customer knowledge and familiarity with your products by rewarding them for the completion of educational or training videos and further segment your audience based on their actions. You can take it a step further and utilize advanced marketing automation to send personalized newsletters featuring new product releases based on these interests.
- Bypass integrations with your intermediaries by offering the option for these businesses to become members of your program and pushing more traffic directly to your site for purchases.
- End consumers can also be enrolled in your program on a smaller scale in order to reward them for their loyalty. OCR scanning means you no longer have to rely on your business or channel partners to conform to your technology because your end consumers will be able to upload their own receipts and invoices directly.