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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Marka Outlines The Principles Behind a ‘Customer Nurture Program’ (Part II)

Last time, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) President Org, Marka the marketer, Zoot the salesperson and Numo the accountant covered the basic principles of a “Customer Nurture Program” (CNP) for targeting businesses. Today, these same characters discuss cost advantages of the CNP compared to in-person sales calls. Remember, fire = print.

Org plucked an olive out of a jar by his desk and dropped it in his mouth. “Olives?” he offered the tribe, glancing out his window at the grey day outside.

The tribe knew that jar had been in Org’s drawer since the days of Prometheus. They were hungry, but not that hungry.

“Thanks, Org, but we’re saving our appetites for lunch,” Marka said, rubbing her belly.

“How are we going to implement our new Customer Nurture Program?” Org asked, leaning back in his heavy oak chair contemplating the authoritative sounding acronym CNP.

“This program will help us maximize the use of Zoot’s sales force by letting them focus on the most promising prospects in person, while still keeping in touch with everyone else,” Marka explained. “There are lots of ways to get our brand and message in front of important business influencers at important companies.”

Zoot, the consummate people person, was skeptical. He grabbed a comb out of the pocket in his toga and ran it through his shiny black hair. “We don’t want any customer or prospect to feel neglected.”

“Of course not,” Marka said. “But your sales runners can’t be everywhere at once. The idea is to provide information that speaks to our customers’ needs in an entertaining, usable way, which will reinforce our reputation for being reliable and a source of knowledge. Then, they’ll think of us first when they need fire. A Customer Nurture Program is a cost effective way to keep the FEI brand in front of our repeat customers and hook new ones. We show them we care about their needs, at a fraction of the cost of one of your sales calls.”

“We could still follow up in person,” Zoot mumbled, mostly to himself. He was beginning to see some of the program’s advantages.

“Our CNP will help us win top-of-mind positioning, allowing us to still sell when we’re not physically present,” Marka said. “Our CNP messaging will prime the pump for better sales performance. When solid opportunities materialize, we’ll use our skilled sales runners to move the battlefield away from price by assuring exemplary service and value.”

“Our CNP program will work in support of our sales efforts,” Zoot exclaimed. “I’m starting to hear you.”

“Since an Omail, piece of direct mail or telephone call costs a fraction of a sales call, we’ll lower our cost of sales and make a larger profit!” Numo blurted out, stretching his bony thin fingers excitedly.

The clouds outside were breaking apart revealing spots of pale blue sky trying to break free.

“The key for B2B CNP success is proper segmentation of our database,” Marka said, injecting a sense of urgency to the discussion. “For maximum effectiveness, our communication streams need to be relevant to all recipients.

Marka’s thoughts on CNP segmentation included:

• Current customers would benefit from receiving different communications than prospects.

  -  Often, prospects are less knowledgeable about a company’s product and service offerings so basic informational needs should be emphasized.

  -  Communications with existing customers should be focused on up-selling premium products and cross-selling different product lines.

  -  Captured information about prior FEI experiences should be incorporated in the CNP stream. If a customer expressed unhappiness for any reason, acknowledgment and a promise of a different experience may make a difference in winning future business opportunities.

• Information about FEI services should be differentiated by job function.

  -  Presidents and CEOs need to hear about high-level benefits. Operational details can be saved for others in the company. Communications should be short and to the point. For overloaded top managers, less is more.

  -  Front line business influencers—such as estimators, customer service representatives, purchasing agents and sales reps—need more detailed information about FEI products and services. Promising to make people who do business with FEI look good within their organizations works with people at this level.

  -  Mid-level managers are often the ones who lose sleep over business troubles. For them, promise a good night’s sleep when FEI lighting, warmth and energy solutions are deployed.

• If properly used, other factors such as geography, personal interests and client line of business each could be used for compelling CNP communications.

“How frequently should we send CNP touches?” Org asked, raising his brow and creating wrinkles.

“We want enough contact to effectively win top-of-mind position, but not over do it to the point of being a bother,” Marka said. “We should experiment with different message spacing, but in general, every 2, 4 or 6 weeks makes sense for most targeted segments. For important, but non-operational individuals like board of directors, our informational touches could easily be every 12 weeks or even longer."

“Some people simply need more attention,” Zoot cautioned. He knew from experience that some customers required constant contact to remain top-of-mind, while others were lower-maintenance.

“That’s fine,” Marka agreed. “We can have different levels of frequency for communications. The timing is part of the message. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

“Our important business contacts need to receive relevant ‘branding touches’ that matter to them,” Org said, walking to the grogaccino machine in the corner of his office for his fifth cup of the day.

   *   *   *   

FIRE! in Action

Direct Marketing Propels Devachan Salon and Spa into Sales Growth

Devachan Salon targeted its current customer base with a low-expense, eye-catching coupon mailer. The two mailings generated a total revenue stream of nearly $100,000. (

Next week: Creating Irresistible Customer Relationships

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