2 Ways to Get Happy B2B Clients to Talk to Reporters
Dear B2B tech companies,
Nine times out of ten, reporters prefer to speak with your customers over you.
Journalists want to know how customers benefit from your thingy kabob—straight from them. I’ve heard some variation of this from reporters many times, “John, don’t add your client (tech co.) to the call. If I want vendor comment I’ll ask.” Here lies a massive opportunity for solution providers: customers can steer how people think about your product.
For 95% of B2B tech companies, there’s a gap to fill between ‘happy clients’ and ‘vocal clients’. Below are two ways to transform satisfied clients into media-facing (super)heroes which elevate your customer-led marketing strategy.
1. Learn their motive
Every B2B tech company has a different method for identifying and cultivating “chatty” consumers, but what’s universal is the fact that the majority of customers want something in return, such as free development time or a discount on a SaaS tool. There are some customer contacts who may want to package their successes with a vendor and land a new job — they may bring you over there. Talk about an easy sale!
Some customers who use our client’s products or services have expressed to me in 1:1 calls they are in search of a new job and understand how appearing in a reporter’s story would put them in front of future employers. To the surprise of many marketers that our comms and brand strategy consultancy works with, I rarely have to “sell” B2B clients on the benefits of speaking with a reporter for both them and our client’s business.
And look what I, an external partner, found out: a customer contact may leave. This is invaluable information for our clients. They know to quickly establish a friendly relationship with another employee to prevent churn.
You can’t have too many internal champions, especially with 168,243+ tech layoffs in 2023.
2. Stroke their ego
Every B2B tech company has at least one egotistical customer. That is both a blessing and a curse, so let’s be optimistic and focus on the blessing.
In B2B marketing, sometimes this process starts with highlighting a happy customer in a customer-facing newsletter or a “best of” blog post as a way to add credibility to a company. This low-hanging fruit makes customers feel special and provides them with a link to share on LinkedIn, with a boss, in Slack, etc. Remember that before being asked to speak to reporters, which can feel like a large ask sometimes, B2B customers are supposed to feel comfortable interacting with a vendor’s marketing staff.
A second way to approach the ego stroke is to examine customer behavior. Marketers can ping Product or Customer Success teams to learn which customers are power users (AKA huge fans of a solution). Tools like Pendo and Heap may help to uncover user activity. When a marketer or member of the customer success team tells a customer they’re using a product in an amazing or uncommon way, they are often blown away. It demonstrates they value and are aware of the actions of their customers.
Internal benefits of customers talking to reporters
Let’s say an internal marketer prods Customer Success via Slack or email or approaches a founder who owns client relationships (I refer to these as “founder gates”) and ultimately speaks with a customer, understanding what transpires during this exchange is crucial for all departments, including Marketing, Product, and Sales.
After a marketer has prepped a customer before a media interview by relaying a reporter’s background, interview style, the focus of the story, and more, they will likely learn for the first time how this specific customer describes their product. In addition, they hear how the customer will prioritize their positive experiences with a vendor. Voice of the customer—you cannot beat it. Oh wait, you can…
On these integral calls, many customer contacts are open to guidance from vendors or PR agencies on what to say or not say to the reporter. THIS. IS. GOLD. Marketers cannot overlook this once-in-a-customer-relationship opportunity. A vendor’s value-based messaging can take center stage.
Now, if a reporter interviewed a technical founder (who hasn’t undergone media training), they’d likely hear product speak and talk of features. Wrong move. Instead, reporters respond better to communications that focus on the benefits it will bring to their readers. Besides, B2B buyers respond better to communications that focus on the benefits it will bring to their roles. The potential impact of customer influence on product perception is huge.
Understand that if you want to maximize your B2B marketing efforts, you must keep happy customers in a “stable” that will communicate with journalists. While other B2B marketing tactics like execs using LinkedIn and customer video testimonials are table stakes, this gives marketers a competitive advantage while improving customer retention.