blog: Sales & Marketing

PLANNING OUT YOUR PRODUCT LAUNCH

Planning Out Your Product Launch —

Avoid 3 common mistakes that could reduce your chances of success.

3 common mistakes that inventors, entrepreneurs and even experienced marketers make bringing products to market are:

  1. Falling head-over-heels in love with the idea
  2. Not properly defining the target market
  3. Under-estimating the amount of effort involved

 

These mistakes are easy to make in the excitement of launching a new product. But with good guidance and teamwork they can be avoided and your vision can translate more easily into success.

See more: http://www.hydrogencreative.com/planning-out-your-product-launch

Written By |B2B, B2C, Marketing Strategy, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on PLANNING OUT YOUR PRODUCT LAUNCH

How does customer service fit into your marketing mix?

This question was asked by Marketing Magazine to Longo’s Grocery Chain (see the November Special Issue on Customer Service).

I didn’t get to the answer. The question short-circuited my frontal lobe so I stopped reading. Let me explain.

I have, for the past 16 years, had a mania about customer-centric marketing. I have also been a critic of brand-centric marketing. I have never had a problem selling the strategy, but I have sometimes been a bit disappointed by the casual observation that “It doesn’t look much different”.

It has been a splinter in my brain to characterize the contrast between the science of customer-centric marketing and brand marketing without reaming off thousands of words.

Don’t breathe!  I may have found a solution. I am going to reword Marketing Magazine’s question:

HOW DOES MARKETING MIX FIT INTO YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE?

(I feel a bit dizzy. Need to take a moment.)

Customer-centric marketing takes brand ego out of the equation and replaces it with brand empathy, at every touch-point. It focuses your value proposition, media execution, product delivery, customer service and relationship management on the customer’s values.

“How does Customer Service Fit into your Marketing Mix?” vs. “How does Marketing Mix fit into your Customer Service?” It is an 180 degree flip. And it is a mind-set. Perhaps you can’t see the difference until you feel the difference.

Is it easy to make the transition?
No.

Is it so obvious when you have?
It may not be so noticeable to the casual observer, but it is very significant to the target audience and to your customer retention, share of wallet, marginal cost of marketing and all those other important variables.

So, how does your marketing mix fit into your customer service?

Written By |B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, In the News, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on How does customer service fit into your marketing mix?

The Customer is Queen (not King)

You know the old aphorism: “The Customer is King”. It turns out that nobody really means it. You have to wonder why. Let’s take a look….

WHAT IS A KING, ANYWAY?

Kings are confrontational — whatever conflicts with their rule must be challenged. Two kingdoms in conflict have limited choice: to conquer, negotiate, submit, or make an alliance.

What does it mean when we say that ‘The Customer is King’?

Most business owners would answer that it helps them to remember the ‘significance of the customer’. But it doesn’t mean the customer should have the power to dictate terms to the business. The Business is really the King.

WHAT IS A QUEEN?

In metaphor – the Queen is the consort to the ruler of the kingdom. If a King wants to extend his rule, he needs a loyal, supportive Queen who can raise princes that won’t challenge him, to keep the peace in his kingdom.

The ‘King’ is your business and the ‘Queen’ is your customer. The princes are your growth in market share, share of wallet etc. Be disloyal to your customers and they will rebel or defect.

 

Treat your customer like a Queen: two heads sharing common goals, values and interests. Don’t treat your customer like a King. You’ll butt heads and they’ll replace you with a competitor.

 

Play your cards right by reinforcing customer values to create a loyal, profitable and long-term relationship.

IT’S NOT A FAIRY TALE

It is in your best interest is to build long-term relationships with your customers by understanding and anticipating their values.

This is the top-spin that we put into Customer-centric marketing, to create, grow and sustain your customer relationships. It’s more than creative, more than branding, and more than rewards.

TRAVERSE MARKETING

You have your product and your partners in place and core of customers that value what you offer who maintain your cash fl ow and profitability. Opportunities beckon in other markets, providing chance to duplicate your success. You scope out thepotential and speak to a few people. The board is supportive, you give it your best shot and in a few months you are seeing a sizeable return on your investment. If only it were that simple. For more see: Traverse Marketing

The 360º About-Face

I was once told that the furthest two points on a circle are right next to each other, because you have to travel the entire circumference to connect them. Sound silly? Try to draw a circle without connecting two points next to each other. You can’t do it. The paradox that the closest and furthest points of the circumference are adjacent is an interesting metaphor for how to miss or connect with customers.

As marketers we tend to look at the market through the lens of our brand, product or service and accept whatever filters through. We define the product based on its finest qualities and spin these into potential benefits, having first made sure of competitive qualities through price, performance or appeal. It is a product-centric model: the product is at the centre, and its radius is a function of market segment and reach. Customers fill in the area of the circle. Completely full is nirvana.

In a customer-centric world, your product is just one point on the 360º circumference of a circle that constitutes the entire customer predicament. Your marketing efforts travel inwards on a direct line to the centre. If you reach the centre it means they bought you.

So there is also a paradox between the product-centric model and the customer-centric model: to the marketer the product is a 360º totality but to the customer it is a 1º Maybe.

How can these two disparate models be reconciled? The challenge for the marketer is to travel the remaining 359º to fully understand the customer predicament and then apply that knowledge. Touch Marketing is the expression I use to envelope customer values, position the product properly and develop a marketing platform that builds a relationship based on shared values. In the 360º view of the customer price may not be important, features may not be important. Convenience and simplicity might be important but you won’t know until you do the 360º About Face, learn how your customer really sees their world and relates to your product within everything they do.

It takes some effort to wrench oneself away from the comfort of one’s own perspective. Nobody wants to have their ‘comfort-tree’ shaken. I am not talking about customer-satisfaction. Too many marketers pat themselves on the back with positive customer survey responses and remain in marketing stasis. I am talking about real-life relevance:
–> how to make your marketing more relevant to customer values so that they embrace not only what you are selling now, but also what you will sell in the future. If you do the 360º About Face, your next products will also support their values.

You have to go as far away from what you know and feel about your business or products to learn what it means to be customer-centric. Then you will have done the 360º About Face and be ready to pick up your product, brand or service and build a meaningful relationship with your customers.

In case you thought I was advocating going this distance with every single customer – that would be unnecessary. Customers form into segments also. The classifications won’t always fit the precise definitions of your marketing textbook. Go and find out. In each case it’s interesting and you’ll learn something to help you grow your business.

The Good Old Days or The Good New Days

If population, technology and economic growth were predictable then the value of a product’s unique selling proposition would also be predictable and the stable growth of a business would be assured. There was a temporary experience of this phenomenon in the post-war 50’s in America when industrial technology released from the war effort into a stable market hungry for innovation created a boom in both the economy and the birth-rate.

However population mobility, economic volatility, technological innovation, geopolitical instability have since created such unpredictability that consistent values seem impossible to gauge. These destabilizing factors weaken the corporate armor of even the most dyed-in-the-wool product icons for competition to attack. And the greater the proliferation of choice, the more unpredictable the customer appears in how they make choices.

Stuck In Tunnel Vision
Despite all this uncertainty the most common practice of businesses and organizations is to mold their values around a core leadership within the business. And they define their marketing assets based on the values that are business-centric, such as described above.

A business that blends this cocktail of assets successfully will achieve growth and achievement within a specific window of oppportunity. And, if it can generate enough capital within that window then it will be able to sustain itself through the inevitable redundancy of the product or service that built its financial base to adapt to changing market conditions. If it misses that window of opportunity, then so much innovation and investment will be flushed down the toilet. This is the scary and unpredictable world of venture and risk capital. It has become the roulette wheel of corporate fortune and misfortune.

Get Out of the Tunnel
But, if you think about it more deeply, the ability to sustain coporate performance throughout all the environmental and economic changes and fluctuations really depends on one thing: Customer values. Customers make all their choices based on their values. And there is ample proof in population statistics to demonstrate commonalities in customer values to sustain both mass market and niche markets for products and services. You can look at this as the basis for forming your Customer Value Grid.

Customer values form a totally different grid to the corporations. Each product is a fraction of the customer’s total spectrum of activity. So the product or service provider is only addressing a small fragment of the customer’s needs. Understanding the full spectrum of customer values will inform the marketer how to place its products within the Customer’s Value Grid. Rethinking your approach along these lines is your first step to keeping customers engaged for loyalty, frequency and continuity. What does this mean? It means stability within the context of change, or the reduction of unpredictability within your business.

The first step we mentioned is to classify the assets of your product or service in relation to a comprehensive customer needs system of classification:

  • How does your customer look at your product?
  • Achievement: how well will this product or service help me to achieve my goals?
  • Convenience: how easy is it to locate, engage or acquire this product or service?
  • Comfort: can I use this product in a comfortable way or to increase comfort.
  • Esteem: will the use of this product/service equate with or raise my esteem?
  • Pleasure: will this product/service directly or indirectly enable me to increase the amount of pleasure in my life?
  • Trust: is this product, service or company a reliable source for all of the above.

Don’t be surprised that affordability is not represented as a customer value. Customers will expose themselves to financial risk to maximize comfort, esteem or pleasure. A house purchase is a fundamental example of this. Few homebuyers purchase a house that is easily affordable. In a consumption-driven society customers will invest disproportionate to their means to maximize these values. Wal-Mart’s value pricing simply enables their customers to maximize convenience and pleasure, often at the expense of comfort, through over-consumption. Although one the world’s largest retailer has built its business on the value of affordability, this is because price is only a function of the degree to which all the above can be satisfied.

A business that builds its values on the ACCEPT Customer Value Grid and maintains this focus can realize stability and predictability within its financial model.

Written By |Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Good Old Days or The Good New Days