The 180º Right Turn

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The 180º Right Turn

After doing a 360º About Face (see last entry) you will now be able to see yourself as your customers see you – not through your well-groomed surveys – but through their values and where and how you fit.

Which means you can make the right move (turn), to build your marketing programs and messaging from the customer’s perspective – opposite (180º) from the way you were facing in your previous marketing endeavors.

Anecdotally: I recently spoke with a senior executive in one of Dell’s divisions. Their internal retrospective critique was that Dell had focused too much on pricing in its messaging. While listening I did a quick 360º About Face and said to myself: “I didn’t buy Dell for a discount product. I bought Dell because I could get what I needed faster and to my door without paying for things I didn’t want.” In fact I don’t think I ever bought a Dell product at the advertised price. Dell’s price-point marketing reinforced to me the economy of its distribution model.

I never thought of Dell as a discounter, and I was both a consumer and business customer. All I needed from Dell was that their primary concern was to keep shovelling me with the technology I needed, faster and more cost-effectively than anyone else, and my loyalty was/is won. Marketing values reflect differently with customers, which presents the challenge of trying to pin the tail on the donkey while wearing the blindfold. Lack of line of sight is a great inhibitor.

One way to be sure you have line of sight is to stand in the place you are aiming at and look back at where you are pointing from (it works great on the golfing green). Stand on the opposite side and figure out how to make your objective reach the goal. You need this perspective before you can make the 180º Right Turn. One way to get perspective is to tune into the customer dialog while it is happening all around you. Web 2.0 publishing offers an unlimited resource for marketers to navigate a 180º right turn, (although there should be a health warning that such powerful direct feedback from customers can cause marketing whiplash in the dire haste to stem the negative feedback circulating through blogs, chatrooms and forums).

The rise of the corporate blogger needs to be more than a trend. It is a wellspring for interactive communication that is collaborative and ultimately supportive, even if the criticism can be brutal. Collaborative brainstorming sites are another face of the customer that lets marketers embrace attitudes so foreign to their internal culture you’d think they never really met face-to-face with a customer. Not all marketers can be successful in the blogsphere, as their customers often don’t rate them high enough in their priorities to take the time to engage in this sort of dialog. An alternative technique called Web Voyaging lets you tune into the voice of the customer and build an interaction that can guide you to make the right choices to build your business.

It is a methodology designed by an Interactive PR Agency partner of my studio Hydrogen Creative, and it relies on tracing 50 online communities that represent your target audience, and preparing well thought out topics or opinions and posting these to their community to gauge the response. The immediacy of the medium and the authenticity of the response is what make this a compelling technique to reach out to customers. Once you have done the 360º About Face you develop the sensitivity to hear customer feedback in the proper context. You resist making knee-jerk rationalizations of why the customer is saying the opposite of what you were hoping to hear. I am so frustrated by research companies that carefully craft questions in order that the answers are tolerable to their paying clients. If you don’t think it happens, “Ha, ha, ha, to you.”

The idea of the 180º Right Turn is to embrace with humility the reality that all the smarts you have and all the brilliance that inspires you to get up in the morning is subservient to a few terse comments from the people you need to buy your products who don’t share your sentiments about what you do best each day.

It is sometimes a painful awakening, but the good news is – once you make the turn – you get to channel all the brilliance and inspiration that you have into something that actually resonates with your customers.

Now that’s exciting.

Written By   Jon|B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The 180º Right Turn
Written By   Jon|B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The 180º Right Turn

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Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.