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Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

How to work with Us

By | Marketing Strategy, Packaging, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

We know that every small business is different and you will be looking for the right marketing resource. That is why we have come up with a number of ways to engage with us.

Marketing Strategy workshop – for a small investment of $250 you can have a meeting and see if we are a good fit and get some immediate marketing strategy to apply to your workshop. This is a good place to start if you haven’t yet worked out your marketing approach.

Small Business Package – allows us to work together with you over a series of workshops to uncover your strategy and put together a one page plan.

Fast Track workshop is a one day planning session for a small business to create a marketing plan.
Web Design Package – is perfect if you are in the process of redesigning your web and want to make sure it will attract your ideal customers with call to actions.

Branding Package – is great if you are rebranding your business and want to think through the “why” of your identity. This builds the style guide and the key marketing messages.

Digital Marketing covers all social media creation and planning so it is wrapped up in your core marketing strategy.

The Customer Centric Workhop focuses on mapping out your customer’s buying path so you can become more customer centric and test your internal values and value proposition.

Retainer Options are very useful and economical for a small business with no marketing resource but know they need an ongoing affordable marketing person. We only do a number of these per year so we can service our existing clients well.

Online Coaching Package is for those remote businesses that want an online resource to communicate with about their marketing.

What is Customer Centric Marketing?

By | customer centric marketing, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy | No Comments

Customer centric marketing is now becoming the new buzz word. I have been doing it for almost 20 years, but what actually is it? Is it a mindset, a business approach or system? A product centric strategy (set your business model up around the product or service you sell) is the model most companies on the planet have; i.e., business as usual. On the other side of the landscape is customer centricity.

Customer Centricity is a strategy. It is aligning your business with the needs and wants of your most profitable customers. For some larger businesses it might be too difficult to migrate their structure to align to the customer but for small businesses it is a doable task that has a real competitive advantage.

Small business is best placed in providing customer value and asking questions about how to make the customer experience better because we have less complicated infrastructures.

Note: Not all customers are your ideal customers. Some just aren’t a good fit. I learnt this the hard way. Sometimes they are just not ready for the service or product you offer, sometimes they are just hard work. Take the warning signals and move on before they become a liability to your business. Some customers just cost too much to service.  Peter Fader in his book Customer Centricity makes this point. Pete also states that it means being friendly to special customers, but not necessarily everyone.

Step 1 identify who are your key valuable customers. Basic for segmentation is not just demographics or charactertics but really it should be their Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). It isn’t a one size fit all. Even look at the customers that you love dealing with and value your services, is a good step.

Step 2. Identify your interact in touch points. i.e. CRM – interface – It is a tool to achieve customer centricity. It should be kept simple to start.

Step 3. Realise that you need to be a solution provider and ask why, and help customers.

Step 4. Treat each group of customers differently based on their needs as you get more detailed.

With customers in the driver seat in terms of choice and conducting most of their research online before they find us or hear about us, technology has accelerated the customer centric strategy getting airplay. The product centric model is now vulnerable as they become more commodity based thus price is getting eroded.

Small business have less organisation structure changes, financial risk and can build faster brand equity than every before by engaging with customers.

Customer centric

Customer Centric Marketing graphic

Where most businesses are finding it more and more difficult to differentiate themselves and can be replicated for a low cost by outsourcing oversees the battlefield for winning over customers has to centre around adding value by consistently delivering delightful experiences. By constantly putting yourself in the customer headspace from your website, to your office parking,

what would make this touchpoint easier, nicer, a better experience?

We know by mapping out purposefully the customer touch points it will have an impact on business objectives around customer lifetime value, retention and profit per customer.

For more information on how to create a customer centric marketing strategy contact Dan for a session. Business Impact

Why do your customers choose you?

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

Why your customers by from you and not your competitors is a key strategic marketing question that is harder to answer than ever before.The  competitive landscape has changed and commoditisation of products and services has given rise to the focus on customer retention and differentiation based on the “how you provide a service or product”.The shift away from an industrial, upstream model toward a customer-centric one has been under way for some time now. Niraj Dawar argues in his new book Tilt that most companies still look for competitive advantage where it used to be: through activities related to products and new product creation. But today’s advantage comes from interactions of a different sort—those you have with your customers. Companies that recognize and move on this shift win.

Key strategic questions that I earmarked in reading Tilt  by Niraj Dawar are as follows:

1. Why do your customers choose you? Make sure it is not table stakes.

2. What business are you in? What business do your customers think you are in? How have they defined you? The answer you give to this question is predictive of how you see your business strategy

3. How is profitability measured? By customer or by volume?

4. Where do you spend most of your effort and energy? – on the service or product you sell or on understanding your customers and consistently delivering value to them by asking one fundamental question: What else do our customers need?

“Today manufactures can replicate the looks and feel of an innovative product and print it to market for a fraction of the price, in a fraction of the time it use to take. Even Nike and HP manufacture their products in Asia.” Tilt pg 178

5. How can we take what we know about our customers and provide value in different ways:coffee pods

  • How we distribute a product: Nespresso
  • How we store a product: iTunes
  • How a product or service is delivered: Audible, Spotify
  • How a product is consumed: Coles new ready made meals
  • How we dispose of a product or service: eBay

Niraj states the value equasion is VALUE= WHAT+HOW

6. How close are we to our customers and understanding them? If you sell through a channel that is made harder. Nespresso had the Nespresso club to sell direct first which gave them invaluable data on who their customers around who buys their coffee and at what price. They changed the coffee making market by understanding the pain of getting out of bed and getting dressed on a Saturday morning to stand in line and pay $4 for a espresso and risking that they are closed or run out of stock. Kodak didn’t understand their customers and so focused on a need that was surpassed.

Risks Table

7. Do you focus on scale or scope? Niraj makes the comment that it is not how many widgets you sell but how you deliver on the needs your customers have and scope your deliverables around that. What are the costs and risks they face in doing business with you? How can you eliminate these? How do you make it easy for your customers to choose you?

“Businesses rarely pay enough attention to customer costs and risks because these aspects of a transaction tend to be invisible to a sell too.”Tilt g806

This is where strategic service design can uncover those opportunities and create a competitive advantage that is hard to replicate.

Listen to my podcast with Niraj here:

Video on Tilt strategy

How to create a competitive advantage?

By | Branding, Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Technology, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

What else can you do to stand out from the crowd?

  1. Collaborate. Whether we like it or not customers are in the box seat. They choose to visit your website, view your ad or open your email and they can click delete, navigate to another page or change the channel in a nano second! As a small business, you are uniquely placed to collaborate with your customers. You can do this using social media tools like Facebook, and forums, blogs and Tweets. Innovations are best when they come from the customers because they are telling you (in many cases) a better way to do something! Invite customers to be a part of your planning. Creating a collaborative culture in your small business with your employees contributing freely can really help too!
  2. Offer Understanding and Insight
    Communicating with your customers could be as simple as a phone call or online survey. If done with sensitivity to their needs and not in an annoying five-page survey it can be something that provides great insight for your small business to change something that was losing you business or create something that will give you a competitive edge.
  3. Share your story
    Stand for something and make it count! So many companies still just don’t get it. People buy from those they know, like and trust. How can they get to know you if all you have on your website is the same old company spiel? Your potential customers are making decisions about whether to contact you every day. Give them the whole story so they can make a decision based on what and who you really are. Freshbooks is a good example of this. Remember, you don’t have to try to make your story inspiring, it just has to be real! Read Tell to Win by Peter Guber which tells the importance of storytelling in business.
  4. Make Work Fun and Easy
    How likable are you anyway? The journey, the process and the prospect of working together has to be enjoyable for you and the client. Marketing is not a one-off activity, but an integral part of the business model. Inject some whiteboards, smarties and have a sense of humour! All services have an opportunity to create a customer experience that is enjoyable.
  5. Be Customer Centric
    Step into your customer’s shoes every day. One of the most fundamental changes you can make is to step through the customer touch points in your business and consciously think about them. This awareness of how they feel at each stage in your process makes you change how you do things. Small businesses are best placed to be customer centric but it does take a mind shift. Look at your website, storefront, business card, flyers, staff and services from your customer’s view point. Now should you change something? The answer is always yes.
  6. Fail quickly but create an idea-based culture
    No one will ever get fired for trying something new. If you can create a culture where you and your team are prepared to try ideas and experiment you are likely to hit a few jackpots!
  7. Love your Employees. Would you want to work for you? Employees are the soul of your small business; this is because your customers can feel instantly if they have walked into a positive or negative environment. If your employees are happy you are half way to creating a great brand. Something as simple as bean bags in the coffee-room, a punching bag (good one Pete), and some nice flowers planted in the garden outside your office, can make a world of difference. You have to take responsibility for setting the tone and then allow your employees to add their own flavour to it.

These seven principles are simple yet very effective and can set you apart from other businesses. How can you take these strategies and improve your competitive advantage today? Love to know.

 

“Your Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”

By | Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing | No Comments

Jeff Bezos once famously said that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not
in the room. Today we have platforms that allow us to listen to what people of saying and these are really a gift. Social networks, blogs, You Tube, Review sites like WOMO all give us access to understanding and responding to customer questions, answers, experiences. It can help validate a decision. Crowd scoring tools can help us as well like customer monitor, sodahead ,1000heads and Buzzagent. Then there is Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and updates.

BUSINESSES SPEND BILLIONS AND OBSESS OVER FIGURING OUT WHAT THEIR CUSTOMERS THINK–BUT THEY SHOULDN’T. HERE’S WHY YOU CAN NO LONGER MAKE EXCUSES FOR A LACK OF USEFUL FEEDBACK” Fast company.

Collaborative marketing

We can see who are influencers of our brand and connect with them. We can learn about how to improve. We can create and steer future experiences with the benefit of this insight.

So what is the take away. You should be listening to what your customers and  employees and take action to improve your marketing. The information is out there if you use it. We spend annually $33 billion on customer research but today we don’t need to do that. It is at our fingertips with the digital touch points. Listening to your customers isn’t hard. We can test and make different decisions quickly. Stop programs, change your website within an hour or email campaigns. We can test and fail quickly and spend our dollars more effectively.

Mashable give us some good feedback suggestions. What happens if your brand perception isn’t what you thought it should be. What if your customers have a different understanding? What next?

Strategic Service Design is a great start

 

Customer-Centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40%

By | Branding, Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Customer-Centricity-Chart-300x300Lead gen is no longer downloading an “e-book” according to Good Technology. Today’s buyer wants to take a self-directed journey that they control. According to Brian Solis new book  The Future of Business, we don’t only want to take the journey, we want to connect and share it and discuss it like we always have, but now are using new  tools and immediate digital forms of Brian Soliscommunication to do this which makes this communication transparent and amplified.

MarketingSherpa recently published a case study about B2B mobile solutions company Good Technology.

Good Technology returned to the heart of its content marketing strategy – the customers – and learned more about buyers’ journeys through the sales funnel. During this process, the company discovered it had lost touch with its customers.

Just taking the time to listen to, and understand, your customer can pay dividends in marketing results. Good Technology already had an annual customer advisory council, but decided to take understanding its customers to the next level.

Julie Gibbs, vice president of marketing and communications at Good Technology, said “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important, but nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis … building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view. We, as vendors, wanted to really look at how we are approaching our communications and marketing, including after-market communications, with our customers to improve them and make them more relevant.”

Process

By utilizing a third-party for the more extensive research into its customers’ buying life-cycle, Good Technology was able to gain an unbiased look into how its customers interact with the company and its marketing campaigns. Using a third-party ensured every organization understood the customers’ point of view and created stronger alignment across departments.

Conducted Interviews

The interviews of Good Technology customers used for the primary research included more than 30 global Fortune 100 companies, as well as a number of SMB customers. According to Zhivago, “Whatever you think your customer believes to be important is likely wrong.”

  • Interviewees were asked about the trigger event — what internally caused them to want to find a new solution, or evaluate a new technology
  • Focused on discovering what experience the customer wanted to have with the vendor, and what marketing assets those customers were using in their buying process

A major problem with marketing today is that many of us resort to guessing about our customers’ likes, dislikes and needs. This is a problem. We need to take advantage of the tools at our disposal, such as social media, SEO, and blogs, to learn about the customer.

Analysis

Analysis included reviewing detailed feedback from Good Technology customers and mapping the buyer’s journey, including customer experiences and interactions.

From there, the material was put together in presentation form for what Gibbs described as an “internal road show” to tell the story.

She added that having a third-party as part of the internal presentations was valuable.

Good Technology’s customers were receptive to the interview process, and the company found that the interviews created a sense of relationship, partnership and goodwill.

“It wasn’t someone at the company telling the story and potentially creating friction, it was a third-party,” Gibbs stated. “That’s really important for internal credibility. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘So-and-so is really unhappy with your product, or services, or support.’ You want to be able to show the data and quotes from your customers.”

The customer feedback analysis uncovered two interesting facts for a B2B marketer with very large enterprise clients.

  • First, even very high-level executives frequently used freemail (such as Gmail and Yahoo!) email accounts when conducting research and interacting with marketing activities and assets. They did this explicitly to avoid talking to Sales before they were ready.
  • Second, while these prospects were interacting with industry and vendor websites, they also heavily took advantage of Gartner, the technology research firm, throughout the buying cycle to determine what vendors to consider.

In light of this learning, Gibbs said Good Technology increased the focus on its relationship with Gartner.

Gap

With the customer interviews analyzed and presented throughout the company, Marketing next performed a gap analysis of its marketing programs and assets.

This analysis was pretty straightforward. Gibbs said the marketing team took a sheet listing the information and assets Good Technology customers were looking for at each stage of the buying cycle, and then listed all of its current marketing resources.

Comparing the two lists, the team gave each marketing resource a rating of red, yellow or green.

She said, “Where does what you are currently doing stand, and where does it fall short? You will often find you have some strengths that you are not looking at the right way and that you tend to focus on the weaknesses.”Four Moments of Truth

Take Action

“Then we asked, ‘How can we change our marketing approach and assets?'” Gibbs said. “What can we do quickly? What’s going to take a little bit longer, and what do we have to build for longer term?”

She said the first step was to eliminate efforts that had no impact on Good Technology’s business. In this case, Marketing stopped producing e-books.

  • The customer interviews found the problem was not the content of the e-books; it was simply calling them “e-books.”
  • Gibbs explained that using the marketing lingo/jargon term did not resonate or have credibility with Good Technology’s B2B audience.

“The asset may have great content the customer is not going to use simply because you are calling it something that they don’t trust,” said Gibbs.

Marketing found its customers trusted white papers, so the e-books were rewritten, reformatted and reproduced as white papers.

She offered more examples of different time-frame activities:

  • Short term — Stop doing things that didn’t have impact; begin using customer-centric terminology
  • Long term — Rebuild the marketing resource infrastructure to more closely match what Good Technology customers need

Gibbs said the final stage was to measure the impact of these changes.

 Continue the process through the entire customer experience

This effort was undertaken with the intent of better understanding the customer to help refine and improve marketing efforts. Internally, customer service and support also became very engaged with the results of the initial customer interviews, and wanted to extend the insight into the post-purchase process.The result of this interest was replicating the process on the post-purchase experience of Good Technology’s customers.

The company is currently in the process of “gluing” these learnings together to create an end-to-end customer experience map, so the company can provide a consistent customer experience over the entire lifetime of the relationship.

Results

Gibbs said the results of just the short-term changes brought on by this effort are impressive:

  • Across-the-board 30% increase in the return on marketing
  • 130%, and more, improvement in lead quality response to certain marketing assets
  • 40% increase in conversion from Marketing-qualified to Sales-accepted leads

She added that pipeline velocity was another key metric, and that lead quality was more important to Marketing than lead quantity.

“If you have big customers, you need to have a face-to-face relationship” said Gibbs, explaining what she learned from this campaign.

Gibbs added, “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important. But nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis. If you don’t have those conversations — and build, really work on building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view — you are not going to be successful marketing and selling for the future.

When the company overhauled its collateral and took other steps, such as revamping its post-sales process, it recognized significant improvements in lead generation. Lead quality increased 130 percent and qualified leads that were accepted by sales jumped 40 percent. Overall, the company realized a 30 percent increase in return on marketing.

In today’s world where innovation can be copied, and differentiation is hard to create,  the new advantage for companies is the customer experience.

Ready to make your business customer centric? Learn how.

First steps:

Here are some of the things B2B marketers can do to make the sales and marketing process more customer-centric:

New book: The Future of Business by Brian Solis. A must read.

“But perhaps the real questions to ask are, have you articulated your brand promise and have
you defined the experience you want customers to embrace, feel and endure. And, how does
this experience trigger shared experiences to serve as a benchmark for which to measure
against? Not only can you measure the value of shared experiences but you should also
measure the integrity of the experiences you hoped to deliver.” The Future of Business

 

Learn more about creating ultimate customer experiences at Strategic Service Design.

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