Harvard Business Review: Building Loyalty in Business Markets

Harvard Business Review articles are always a good read; I’m never disappointed. I manage to read about a half dozen each month and wish I had time to read more. While each article is notable, I felt that the one I read recently was particularly valuable.

Narayandas, Das. “Building Loyalty in Business Markets”, Harvard Business Review, September 1, 2005. Boston: Harvard Business Press. (Yes, it’s an older article… and yes, I realize that I didn’t use the Harvard referencing system in this bibliographic reference!)

In this article, Harvard business admin professor Das Narayandas offers a number of tools to help businesses identify and articulate product or service benefits, and to help businesses know when and who to market to:

  • He outlines 4 categories of benefits to help marketers identify where their products offer value
  • He helps link benefits to decision makers by using two “stacks” — a seller stack and a buyer stack — and he shows how benefits listed in the seller’s stack resonate with specific company roles in the buyer stack.
  • He talks about levels of customer loyalty and provides a “loyalty ladder” which helps companies identify how loyal their customers are (and how loyal they could be).
  • He describes the four kinds of buyers and places them on a grid to compare the buyer’s loyalty with the seller’s cost of marketing to them.

All this is packed into 9 pages. It’s definitely worth the reprint price.

Here’s how I’m using this information in my business: Selfishly, I’m always on the lookout for ways to position my offering with the most attractive benefits highlighted, and for ways to keep clients coming back. More importantly, I’m always on the lookout for tools that will help me to more quickly and accurately analyze a client’s situation and then provide the most compelling ideas and strategies to help them communicate what they do. The tools contained in this article do exactly that.

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