Are you the kind of company that lets your customers to talk with other customers or do is it the kind that keeps customers in the dark so they don’t know who you do business with? If your answer is the latter, consider making a change and overcome your fears of allowing them to talk. Believe it or not, it may be holding your company back.
Connecting your customers can generate conversations that can show how your products or services are used in the customer environment. By networking your customers, they may discover new or more efficient ways that result in better results and increased customer loyalty. You may also discover pain points that have not been addressed and can be worked out by simply having a conversation among customers.
Think beyond your company’s self interests. It’s likely that your company will be able to connect customers together resulting in your customer’s successful business growth. What’s wrong with that? It seems like a win-win for everyone but some lawyer or someone in middle management will say “there is a certain level of liability we are not interested in assuming by facilitating those relationships.” Poppycock, I say!
Here’s a simple and very cost effective way for you to begin to connect your customers by creating a group on LinkedIn. You will need to plan what the “Why” of the group is and who will be responsible for managing it. Part of your planning will need to include looking for a common bond that you have with your customers by thinking in three’s. For example, if you manufacture blank t-shirts and you sell primarily to garment printers create a group that connects you to garment printers and them to designers. Designers need garment printers, garment printers need blank tees and you need garment printers. Ah the power of three!
After you have define the mission of your group and determined who should participate in it, you should pick a name. I can’t tell you what you should name it but I can tell you what you shouldn’t. Do NOT name the group after your company! There are a couple reasons for this. First, LinkedIn puts the most weight on the name of the group when it comes to searching on LinkedIn. Second, this group is not about your company. It’s about the community you serve and the people and businesses you want to attract to it. So, going back to the example above, you may want to name this group something as simple as “Apparel Manufactures, Garment Printers and Designers.”
Don’t be too concerned about the competition. You can prevent them from becoming members of your group by prescreening the requests to join by LinkedIn members. Also, you can keep the group private and pre-screen discussions before they go live to the group. As an admin you have the tools to control the conversation in the group.
Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts regarding this strategy. I’d love to hear your opinion and your ideas.