Reaching Your Customers

 By: Rich Kramarik

 “Let’s buy some great advertising and put up a Web site. That will really tell customers about us. That should do it, Right?” Another set of famous last words. Does anybody know how much was spent on advertising by the Dot.bom’s from 1998 to 2000? Does anybody remember them? Better yet, did the advertising work? We are more committed to putting together marketing communications programs, focused on the intended buyer of the product or service, that will lead buyers to someone who is going to sell it to them. This is the world of marketing communications and has everything to do with telling your potential customers that you have something they need.

 Choose the Right Message

 Before you put anything into a brochure, Web site or press release, you need to make sure you know what to say. The most important exercise is to determine your customer messages. This should come from your analysis of your potential buyers. The foundation of your messages is in the solution you have to the buyer’s business problem. This is where all that market analysis pays off. Your understanding of your market segment, the buyer, your competitors, and other market players, will help you form the messages that distinguish your solution from your competitor’s. Your messages have to be:

  • Sharp

  • Compelling

  • Reflective of the problem you solve

  • Focused on your solution

  • Oriented to value and results

 Whether you are in sales, marketing, development or support, you should know what these messages are, and reflect them in all your work. The work that goes into creating your marketing messages will serve you well in the long run. Having a thoughtful set of messages will distinguish your company and keep you focused on the right things to do to achieve business success in your market.

 Have a Marketing Plan

 Next, you have to determine where you are going to deliver your messages. Well, it’s the buyer right? Yes, ultimately. But sometimes it’s not so straight forward as that. If you are selling luxury boat accessories, your buyer is probably the distributor channel; as well as the luxury boat owner. If your service is children’s education, then you will be selling to teachers as well as parents. For a commercial retail Web site you are selling to the retail buyer as well as the retail suppliers. When you analyzed your market segment, you should have discovered everyone that you have to influence in order to make a sale. Not only do you have to reach your buyer, but you may also have to influence:

  • Distributors

  • Dealers

  • Re-marketers

  • Industry consultants

  • Media relations people

  • Investor groups

 Make sure your messages resonate with each buyer and influencer. Actually test the messages out on some of them in order to refine the messages.

 Essentially, your marketing plan should be constructed to make your buyer aware of your product or service and then take an action that gets you in contact with the buyer so that you can start the sales process. In other words, your marketing plan has to generate sales leads. People will tell you a dozen other reasons why a marketing plan is important, but the only thing that really matters is performing effective lead generation.  

Marketing Tools

 The marketing communications tool box is like the box full of tools any good carpenter has to do carpentry. You also need to select the right tools to get your messages to the right people and to generate customer leads.

 In your tool box are:

  • Marketing brochures and other written material that describe your products and portray your messages.

  • Web sites that are valuable vehicles to reach potential customers with your messages and attract them to contact you for more information.

  • Mail campaigns that can be used to contact targeted customers with a specific offer from your company.

  • Email campaigns are also effective ways to reach customers online with your offer.

  • Seminars offered at a public place or online (Webinar) that invite specific customers to hear a compelling speaker is an effective way to reach interested customers.

  • Sales price reductions and discounts to attract new buyers.

  • Special purchase programs with awards or coupons to encourage repeat purchases.

  • “Industry expert” speaking engagements where representatives of your business speak about your segment of the industry and portray that you are aware of customer issues and know ways to solve them.

  • Authoring opportunities where you write articles that make potential customers aware of your product or service by showing that you are very knowledgeable of business issues in your industry.

  • Press releases that feature your products and services and highlight significant milestones of your business, like alliances, business relationships and customer sales.

  • Advertising that makes potential buyers aware of your product or service and compels them to contact you.

 Only you can decide what the right marketing tools are for your business. Just as the carpenter doesn’t use a hack saw to make mitre joints, the business owner should not use advertising in a magazine that is not read by your buyer. 

 Marketing Principles

 Selecting the right tools for your business is an important decision and has to be thought out well. There is no single approach that fits all businesses, but there are principles to follow:

  • All communications have to be targeted at the buyer and provided in the form that the buyer is used to getting information about products. Do they read trade magazines? Are they technical enough to search the Web? Do they respond to ads? Do they go to consultant groups for advice?

  • Achieve consistency of your messages across all the ways that you communicate them. You have to look like the same company no matter where you go. Yes, you can change the emphasis for some of your messages based on the type of buyer or influencer you are communicating with. However, overall, you should be consistent.

  • Create a closed loop system for lead generation. Have a process of making potential customers aware of your product or service, an innovative reason for them to contact you, a measurement system for qualifying them as potential customers, and a sales representative call on them to start the sales process.

  • Measure results of your marketing programs. You should know everything about your lead generation process and what yield you are getting from your marketing campaigns. Track specific leads through the entire generation and qualification process so that you can determine effectiveness and tune your messages and programs accordingly.

  • Actively drive the marketing programs for results and know why you are succeeding and where you have to improve. Take the actions necessary to become increasingly effective.

 “Reaching customers” is not exactly a science but it’s not black magic either. There are fundamentally sound reasons for putting marketing programs in place and good analysis will validate yours. You can manage marketing to achieve lead generation results in the same manner you manage sales to quotas. Having the right messages, delivered to the right people, with the right follow-up will lead to sales success.

 

 

 

Reaching Customers Case Study

By: Rich Kramarik

  

When it comes to marketing, the “right” approach, action and follow-up are seldom obvious to the business owner or CEO. 

 

We were working with an architectural firm that wanted to expand its operations by expanding into new markets.  Our conversations followed the normal route past messages, advertising, Web site, etc.  When we talked about Web, the CEO said that they had a Web site, but that it had not been updated for over a year.  Upon further investigation we found that this company’s competitors all had up to date and highly professional Web sites.  Then the insult to the injury was that this architect/CEO was previously a partner at one of the competitive firms and that firm’s Web site had used this CEO’s work as examples of their own.  So, not only was this CEO not marketing his successes on his Web site, his competitor was.  This example is intended to show how the obvious is not always obvious.  Business owners and CEO must work with their marketing team to investigate options and plan the “right” approach, actions and follow-up.

 

In another situation, we were working with a start-up that had a solid bank account that was stocked by its investors.  The CEO wanted visibility to high end prospective customers.  The marketing executive negotiated a deal with a Busch Series, NASCAR racing team.  The race car and transporter were completely covered with this company’s logo.  For the advertising on the vehicles the company paid several hundred thousand dollars in sponsor fees.  The big return from the racing team for the CEO’s company was to be introductions at the races to the other racing team sponsors.  These were large companies like Motorola, Verizon, Sony, Nextel, Pepsi and Carquest.  In this case the insult to the injury was that not a single introduction was made by the racing team.  That was several hundred thousand dollars of advertising (the company logo on the racing vehicles) and no new leads.  The big splash is not good enough.  It’s got to be the right splash at the right time, in the right way and in the right place.

 

Then there is the U.S. operation of an Israeli software company.  They were moving into the Insurance Industry with a new software package for processing property and casualty insurance.  The marketing executive found three industry magazines that their target clients read and then chose one to advertise in.  They had a quarter page ad each month for six months.  They experienced three leads each month from these ads and closed one to two within three months of the first conversation with each new lead.  They partnered with two consulting companies that were in the business of installing competitive software packages.  This gave them access to clients of their competitors.  They attended three property and casualty insurance industry conferences each year and generated about 135 new leads from each.  Out of these they were able to, on average, close 5 new clients from each event.  Their marketing brochure talked about costly issues being faced by property and casualty insurance companies.  It talked about innovative, state of the art technology solutions to these industry issues and presented an attractive ROI to clients.  This marketing plan probably sounds incredible to you – because it is.  But, it is a real life example of what marketing planning can do for you.  It took this company over a year of work to get to the point that it could realize these results.

 

The “right” marketing plan can make the “right” approach, action and follow-up obvious to the business owner or CEO. 

 

Brought to you by:                                                         [BACK]

            Bob De Contreras                                                  
            Rich Kramarik                                                     

 


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