Is Your Business Customer Focused?
Customer focus is very important today. With multi-billion-dollar conglomerates taking over most trades, competition for sales is more difficult. But remain customer focused and ensure your customer’s satisfaction is the basis of your marketing and you will see sales grow.
Many smaller businesses often do not have a marketing professional on their team, giving that role over to the sales department. Later, as the business develops, some believe marketing isn’t a need for them as sales are great—until that major market change or new competition arrives that leaves them in trouble with reduced sales and no recognizable brand in the marketplace.
Sometimes the sales manager is great at managing sales people and sales targets but could still use the assistance of a marketer with real experience focusing on the marketing needs. Marketing should be created based on uncovered customer needs and demographics, something sales professionals are great at doing. But in the same way, you sell to the need, you market to the demographic that has the largest need to anticipate best sales results.
Sales and marketing are two different functions. Marketing creates opportunities and tools used by the sales team to increase sales. These tools can include the company logo/brand, web site, print collateral, promo gifts, social media, contests, advertising, ad infinitum, or as I like to say “anything on which you can slap your brand on”.
Many times, I’ve encountered business owners that have created their own slogans and logos (often plagiarized at least in part), chosen their own colour schemes (exactly like company XYZ), chosen the images used in ads, and copy written by themselves (sometimes poorly composed)—and all based on what they like, not what the client they are trying to attract may like. Instead, their marketing is focused on what appeals to them, and may not at all be appropriate to attract the customer.
The graphic appeal and production values of your marketing materials are very important and say a lot to the customer about your company. Ensure that they can be the best you can afford and cut corners elsewhere.
The DIY business owners and managers have a goal to save money with their DIY marketing but may not recognize the rules, strategies, and steps involved to create good marketing. Generally, marketing should focus on the customer experience, what she or he will obtain from the product, and how buying or using the product will make her or him feel.
The ego that is so helpful to the best sales people is deadly to marketing pros. They know to not be too attached to their own marketing ideas for one, and two, to instead try to think like the demographic. What do they want? Not what do you want from the sales performance of your product. Everybody thinks their marketing ideas are the best because their egos are attached to the ideas. Objectivity gives a clearer view of potential effectiveness, and just because you’re the boss or pay the bills doesn’t mean you have great marketing ideas.
The purpose of marketing is to attract customers to the brand; get them to look at it and try it. Marketing is smoke, mirrors, bells, and whistles intended to attract attention to the product. When done well, marketing is almost mystical in its ability to drive positive sales growth; or destroy it when done incorrectly, by using the wrong smoke or bells in the wrong way at the wrong time. I call that blowing smoke up the wrong whistle and it is as painful as it sounds, but only financially due to lost sales.
The power and magic of good marketing is in its ability for the message to appeal to the subtle conscious and unconscious needs, tastes, and desires of people and to eventually manipulate these attractions and needs into buying a product or service. Poor marketing can deter a customer from trying or continuing to purchase your brand, as unlike for Hollywood stars, bad publicity or lack of appeal can be deadly to sale success.
Marketing can be collected as data, analyzed and recreated to further improve the image of the brand. It has a power that is ever evolving and supportive of sales efforts, and although you may (and likely should) choose time periods where you increase the quantity or variety of marketing methods, marketing works best when it is ongoing to “keep the conversation going” with your customer relationships.
Part 2 of this article is continued here.