Great Ideas Start With Customer Engagement
I have a new client that’s a start-up company. We’re working on marketing strategy and communication. They have a key target market and they believe their messaging is on track.
The month of June we are doing what I call “heavy lifting.” We’re spending time interviewing and listening to their customers, prospects, and end users. I’m surveying these people to build our marketing strategy and plan. During the interviews I look for concrete information that will help us update, revamp, or stick with their current messaging. We’re asking questions that will impact my client’s business for the six to 24 months. This is a critical part of developing a successful marketing strategy and plan.
I’m doing this for a new client, you should consider this for your business. Especially as we move forward in business this year. Now is the time to create a process where you continually engage with your customers and prospects.
During this process, keep sales and marketing separate. Your customer will reach out to sales when they need an upgrade, consumables, or have questions. It’s much easier and more comfortable for your customer to discuss ideas, recommendations, and issues with marketing people that are looking for ways to enhance business to better serve customers.
You’ll discover a vast amount of information. There may be a particular approach that a salesperson uses that is really effective. You may uncover that your support team is 100% reliable and that there is a chain of support that should become part of your messaging, not remain the industry’s best kept secret. And you may uncover that coveted tagline that will last throughout the 2020’s.
Our customers are busy.
Are you concerned that people may not be open to talking with your marketing department? Actually, most are eager to give their feedback. If they love working with your company, they want to tell you. If they have seen service decline, they want to tell you. Think about your own product, service or partner experiences. Aren’t you willing to spend 30 minutes with someone who values your feedback and plans to use it improve their business and your experience?
Where do we begin?
Begin this approach with an understanding of what you are looking to uncover. Are you trying to understand how your business is perceived among the competition? Is your messaging on target for a new market that recently emerged? How will you launch a new service or capability? Does your business need to think about rebranding?
After you establish your focus, determine the questions that you need to ask. The questions should be customer-centric. Ask questions about your customer’s business. Do the same for your prospects. What are their issues, what is that person responsible for (persona building), what are their day-to-day issues, when do they use competitive products and services and why? You may find that they just aren’t aware of your offerings.
Now that you have a focus you’re ready to start the program. Use this checklist to prepare for your discovery:
- Create a list of customers, prospects, AND end users.
- Ask your sales team to make the introduction.
- Remove sales from subsequent email and meeting requests.
- Create a list of questions that you plan to use for each account.
- Create a talk track so that you are succinct.
- Let your contacts know what you plan to do with the information.
- Track all responses. (I ask to record my sessions so that I can reference back to the actual responses)
- Probe deeper into responses for clarity.
- Keep to the timeline you outlined, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.
- Thank them for their time.
- Thank them again via email.
- Consolidate the responses and create an actionable plan.
- And most importantly - USE THE INFORMATION!
Reach out to your customers. I guarantee you will uncover information to help your business thrive. And when this happens share your success. If you need help getting started reach out to your marketing department or me, I’d love to help.
Kimberly Meyers is the principal at Kimberly Meyers & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. Kimberly is a Marketing VP for hire. She develops marketing solutions based on strategic assessment of her client’s business, sales and marketing requirements. She lives by the philosophy of ensuring the appropriate message and content is delivered to the target audience – always, focusing on customer needs and satisfaction. Kimberly welcomes your connection at firstname.lastname@example.org.