Author: Bob Wendt
Marketing is one of those business disciplines that many CEO’s don’t fully understand. When it comes to the intangible things that create sales opportunity or margin growth, marketing doesn’t always connect with CEO’s because they are more comfortable with hard numbers and analytics to gauge the effectiveness of their investment.
Who’s Really in Charge?
Marketing today is extremely complicated. Customers now have all the control which means that they are in charge of the dialog and only want to hear from you on their terms:
- They only want to hear from you when they have a defined need
- They avoid your messaging using technology that allows them to delete you instantaneously
- And, if your product or service does not perform to their expectations, they can let the world know what they like or dislike
The Challenge of Growth
To grow your business you not only have to attract new customers and educate them to engage with your business, you have to introduce sales at just the right time and build relationships that foster long term growth. Plus, on top of all of this, you have to keep and grow your current customers.
Because customers are driving the equation, your marketing efforts must now align with the way your buyers buy. If you are still marketing the old fashioned way using one-way communications (2-3 years ago) http://www.briansolis.com/2014/05/guiding-customer-journey/ you’re wasting your effort. Two –way conversations are what drive sales today. Just like every other aspect of your business, you have to embrace the fact that customers have changed and as a result, you’re marketing has to change with them. To manage this “C” of Change you need to understand several key foundational principles.
The Internet is Ground Zero
Customer-relevance delivered through educational content is essential to draw customers to you. That’s what they are looking for. New customer engagement starts on the Internet and your website is ground zero. Almost 70% of the sales process http://blogs.forrester.com/lori_wizdo/12-10-04-buyer_behavior_helps_b2b_marketers_guide_the_buyers_journey is complete before a new customer even contacts a company. Your marketing has to be focused on what’s important to the customer and your marketing technology flawless to take advantage of the opportunity to connect when your customer is ready.
What Customers Want
Customers today are looking for 3 things.
- Are you capable, does your company have a product or service that meets their need?
- Are you knowledgeable and can you demonstrate what you do in a way that proves you are worth consideration?
- Are you likable and approachable?
Customer-Centric communities are essential to the growth of a business today. It starts with employees and extends to customers. Strong community building allows your customers and employees to interact together to share in the product, to engage in ideas for improvement and to always come away feeling that they are part of the brand. http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/06/lara-lee-community-branding-leadership-cmo-network-marketing.html
Be Where your Customers Are
Channel selection is essential. You need to be where your customers are. Today social media shapes customers opinions more than traditional channels of communication. Engaging in a conversation when it is happening allows companies to interact at that moment of influence that can drive customers further down the pipeline.
Summing it All Up.
Customers are now driving the conversation so listening to them becomes ever more important.
If you take an educational approach and provide “helpful information” to your customers, conversations with them will be more effective than if you try to sell them in the traditional sense.
Align how and when you connect with prospective customers using a variety of channels. Make your marketing efforts match their buying process. By using a customer-centric marketing strategy, your customers will share their positive experience with your products with everyone they know. Having them spread the good word is worth its weight in gold.