Thursday, December 18, 2008

Five steps to great marketing.

Looking at marketing as an investment rather than an expense, Craig Palubiak offers five marketing guidelines to help you maintain your edge over the competition:

1. Think mission before commission.

It's critical to have a well-defined corporate mission, and to keep that mission in the minds of employees. Understand that your mission is a vital part of your company's culture that can lead your organization to prosper. It's also important to learn the missions of your customers, prospects and partners to see if they fit with yours.

2. Learn to read the need.

Develop mechanisms that allow you to stay in touch with the marketplace, so you stay a step ahead as the market changes. When asked what made him a great hockey player, Wayne Gretzky responded, “Most players go where the puck is. I go where it will be.” The same is true for businesses. Go where the market is going. A good customer survey can prove invaluable in this endeavor. A "good" survey means one that, in addition to measuring your performance with customers, also measures how important your performance is to them and what it costs you to deliver that performance. You'll have a better picture of where you're wasting time and resources on business that doesn't really matter to the customer, and where you're doing well.

3. Move from feature to teacher.

In the days before the new economy, companies could get by merely selling a product's features. Today, however, you have to be a knowledge source for your customers. Sixty-five percent of customers defect because of service indifference. And while 96% of unhappy customers never complain, they'll tell an average of nine other people about your poor service. Welcoming complaints, seeking them out, improves your odds of keeping good customers and gaining new ones. To avoid the complacency that leads to lost customers, find out what your customers' three primary needs are and what they'll be in the future.

4. Master "customerization."

Not all customers are the same. Some are good, and some are lousy. Great marketing consists of discriminating between the two. Get rid of the lousy ones, or find a way to turn them into good ones. When you look for good customers, pay attention to margin as well as volume. You might have low-volume, high-margin customers who are well worth pursuing. See where your true opportunity is, and make a decision about where you want to go with each customer. Short-term customers often are undervalued. While long-term customers may be your company's lifeblood, certain types of short-term customers can benefit your business. Treat them separately and differently, but make sure they don't interfere with your ability to service your long-term clients.

5. Pay attention to the competition.

Nothing pushes you to new levels of performance more than competition. Just make sure the competition pushes and doesn't guide. To harness that drive, you have to know where they are and what they're doing. Talk to your customers and suppliers, and develop some clear competitive intelligence. Get out of your office and visit them. Find out who the top three competitors are, why they’re successful, what you can learn from them, and what you need to do differently.

The main purpose of marketing is to identify the appropriate markets for your products and services and then open up a conversation with prospects in those markets. This involves both attraction and seduction. Attracting customers requires that you become relevant in their world and they feel relevant in yours. Seduction entices people to do business with you by demonstrating that you understand and care about their needs like no one else, and demonstrate this by making relevant offers and suggestions. Selling is the major component in marketing that makes a product wanted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very helpful indeed. Thank you for these tips!