Saturday, January 09, 2010

 

The three things you must know before any marketing campaign

We often get approached by companies that want us to help them execute marketing campaigns. They need help with copy for their emails, ideas for their new print advertising, or suggestions for how to get the most out of an upcoming trade show.

But before we can be smart about helping new clients drive sales and revenue from these tactics, we have to take a quick step back and ensure three things are understood and put into perspective:

Your Customers: Who are they? What are their core needs, objectives, pain points? What gest them fired up in the morning, and what keeps them up at night? What (and who) influences and motivates them?

The more you understand your customer, the better your marketing will be. And frankly, if you don't know your customer well, I'm not sure how you can put a successful product into play in the first place.

Don't feel like you know enough about your customers? Just ask! Take a list of customers and call them. Don't pitch them, but ask them about their business, their needs, their pain. You'll learn a ton.

Your front-line employees are hearing from customers every day. Your customer service reps, sales team, account managers - they all are a wealth of knowledge about your customers if you're willing to ask and listen.

Your Products: What you're selling needs to closely align with the needs of your customers. It needs to clearly fill a need, solve a problem, or provide a benefit that can be easily communicated.

Too many companies describe their products to customers by explaining features. That's a mistake, especially at the front of the conversation and sales cycle. To gain the customer's attention, you have to speak in terms of benefits. Don't talk about the how and what. Address the why.

And when building and updating products, ensure that the customer's voice is closeby throughout. Product plans and specs are often build directly from customer feedback, but that customer closeness can get lost as decisions are made to get the product launched. Don't that happen on your watch.

Your Objectives: Even if you understand your customers well, and have a product that directly aligns with the customer's needs, there are a million ways to take that message to market. There are countless customer segments, marketing channels, and likely several different product and/or service lines on which you can focus.

Which are most important? What combination will most directly lead to success for your organization this year? If you've defined goals for the organization, and broken that down to a handful of focus areas or "bets" in the marketplace, that gives your marketing the direction it needs to focus on the right customers, the right channels, and the right products.

Now you have clear direction from your customers, your products and your organizational objectives. Doesn't that make marketing execution easier, and much more likely to succeed?

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