How NOT to Approach Strategic Marketing

There are ways that you can absolutely guarantee that your strategic marketing and related communications will be ignored by your key prospects.

During a recent brand review, I came across a prospective customer who had been contacted by our client and had formed quite a strong opinion about our client’s communications. Here’s an abridged version of what the prospect had to say that illustrates what NOT to do when marketing to prospective customers.

“This company has no clue how to communicate with people who are thinking about their products and services. After just one email contact, I was deluged with multiple phone calls, emailings and invitations to trial product offerings! I had to write an email and call the company directly to get them to STOP their solicitations!”

This is obviously an extreme example, but it shows what is going on in the market. Since the economy has been down, there is a heavy fervor for “building a sales growth program.”

Let me first say there is nothing wrong with that objective. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary, but how you go about it is crucial.

Whether you are making sales calls for your company or managing a marketing program, consider these tips for prospecting for new customers:

• Be a good listener.

Knowing what your prospective customer thinks is far more valuable than the customer knowing what you think. Listen to his/her concerns and don’t expect that you will be invited to solve all of them during your first visit.

Do not offer advice unless you are asked for it! This is a tough concept for many marketers to grasp, I realize, but it will pay off if you can exert some patience. Establishing that you are both interested in the customer’s challenges and willing to work collaboratively will build more trust more quickly than spouting off some quick solutions.

Tom Marin is the president of MarketCues, a national consulting firm. Tom serves as a senior advisor and change-management consultant with 35 years of experience. He has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations, as well as middle-market firms. Tom's focus is to plan and drive strategy shifts and strategic growth programs in the printing industry and a diverse range of market areas.
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