Learn About Marketing From Children

 

curious-child1

Children have a natural curiosity and they ask questions, lots of questions. As we grow up we sometimes forget to retain this curiosity and therefore stop asking questions. In marketing, questions are an important part of the process when building and strengthening customer relationships.

Without asking questions, it is a lot harder to see opportunities, uncover customer needs, problems and desires and make the right marketing decisions for your business.

There are 3 words that can help you ask the important questions:

Why?
If you have children you will know this can be a favourite word. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why can’t I have ice cream for dinner?”, “Why does a dog bark?”

In marketing you can use the “Why” word to help you understand about your market, customer attitudes and behaviour and competitors.

 Examples of questions are:

  •           Why are my customers not buying any more?
  •           Why are my competitors more successful?
  •           Why did I not attract customers with my marketing campaign?

One trick is to keep asking why until you find the answer and this can also lead to better conversations with your customers.

How?
Children want to know how to do things such as how to ride a bike. In marketing we want to know how events or activities will affect our customer relationships and therefore our business. This is important especially when we select marketing tactics to spend our time and money on.

Examples of questions are:

  • How will an email campaign strengthen my relationship with key customers?
  • How will a price discount affect my profit?
  • How will my new service help my customers?

What?
Children often think about what they have to do to get something they want. For example they may realise that they have to eat their vegetables if they want to eat ice cream later. For the context of this post I am using ‘What’ as in what do I have to do in order to build and strengthen my customer relationships?

Examples of questions are:

  • What changes do I need to make to my customer service program?
  • What training do my employees need to improve their marketing skills?
  • What social media tools should I use to strengthen my customer relationships?

When marketing your business, questions are important, so perhaps it is time to rekindle the curiosity that you had when you were a child.
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April 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

The Hazards of Potential Customers

danger

An approach from prospective customers is exciting and makes you feel wanted, but it can be hazard for your business and your current and prospective customers.

Years ago I worked for an agency and they specialised in the pharmaceutical industry. The agency was successful and the creatives could take a complex issue and communicate it very effectively to the target market which was medical and pharmaceutical practitioners.

One day the agency was approached by a prospective customer, whom I had been a client of and they wanted us to pitch to launch their new health care product. Great we thought, the only thing was that the product to be advertised and promoted was for consumers and except for a couple of us the agency did not really have the experience in this area.

We pushed ahead with the pitch, which included development of a communications strategy, creative, media plan and a promotional program. Did we win the pitch…No.

The prospective customer’s needs and expectations were outside of the agency’s area of expertise. In reality we should have declined to pitch and recommended other more relevant agencies. Also if you count up the time and money spend on the pitch, it was truly a loss for the agency.

The 3  lessons I learnt and apply to our business today are:

  • Keep within your niche and expertise as you will build better customer relationships
  • You can always gain the expertise but meanwhile you could lose the focus of strengthening your current customer relationships
  • If you can’t meet a current or prospective customer’s expectations or needs, then help them select some other company that can. This can be tough for the ego, but better for the customer and they will remember.

Have you had this type of experience and how have you handled the situation? Please share your story or tips.

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April 28, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

How Long Can You Ignore Customer Requests?

 ignoring-customers

Not long if you want to stay in business.

The reason for the headline is that in the media in Australia there were articles about how 24% of small to medium businesses are likely to cut staff and Smart Company reports how the Council of Small Business of Australia is once again requesting help to support small businesses. Ever since the economic troubles began there have been repeated requests for help for small businesses.

As with many other countries, we are a diverse group and spread across the country. So to help small business requests in these economic times can be a little difficult and may actually mean thinking outside the square as the requests will only continue.

This situation can also arise with your customers and although it is well acknowledged that you need to focus on their problems, needs and desires, sometimes it is easer said than done. There can be many reasons for not following up on customers’ requests, for example your business just does not have the resources available to meet the requests.

However the worst thing you can do is ignore them as they will not go away. Sometimes looking at the situation with fresh eyes and applying a little lateral thinking could provide the solution your customers are looking for. Here are a few tips to help you with the process:

  • Keep a log of all the requests from your customers so you can see if there are any common threads
  • Involve your customers in a discussion as the original request may actually be an unmet need that you can meet
  • Involve your business partners to brainstorm solutions
  • If the requests can be met in the future then let them know and keep them updated
  • Look at different industries or companies as there may be an example that you can follow
  • If you are part of a social media group, ask for their input as today business all around the world learn from and help each other
  • You may not be able to deliver on the whole request; however you may be able to deliver on the most urgent part

Repeated requests from your customers will not go away if you just ignore them and it is how you work through them with your customers that will affect the relationships now and in the future.

How do you handle difficult requests that are not easily solved?
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April 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

7 Simple Tips for Effective PR

 publicity

If you have decided to conduct a Public Relations campaign as part of your marketing plan there are 7 key elements that should to be considered. Looking at these elements before you commence will save you time and help to make your PR campaign more successful for your small business.

The 7 key elements which are quite simple and straightforward are:

Is it Newsworthy?
Whilst the media are always looking for news, they will only report or talk about what they believe is newsworthy. Make sure you do not waste an editor’s time by providing a press release that is of interest only to you. eg. appointment of a new manager. Information on your market is more relevant to the media and your target, rather than information which is related to your business.

Is It Relevant?
One of the most important things to remember when writing a press release is that the information you provide is relevant to the type of media you are targeting, in particular the media’s viewers, readers or listeners. For example, if you own a hairdressing salon and you want to target a women’s beauty magazine you may provide an article on the latest overseas hairstyles and colours.

Support Material
Pictures or photos that relate to your press release may make your article more interesting. Check with the editor what format they would like the pictures/photos to be sent in eg. black and white, PDF, jpeg etc and include them with your press release.

Targeting the Right Media and Person
Start developing a list of local and regional newspapers, radio and television stations, online publications that records a contact name and position (eg. editor or journalist), address, email and phone number for each media contact Find out the best way to send information to each of your media contacts and include this with their contact information. Some editors may prefer email others mail, fax or hand delivery.

Becoming an Opinion Leader
If you can build a strong relationship with an editor or journalist and they begin to trust you to provide interesting and up-to-date information, they are likely to come to you first for information on your industry. This will result in you being seen by both the media and their audience as an opinion leader or authority within your industry.

Community Involvement
Some businesses forget that their customers may find their involvement in the local community newsworthy. If you donate to charities or you or your employees volunteer for community services, this provides an opportunity to gain positive media exposure for your brand or business.

Tracking Results
If you do receive free media coverage from your public relations tactic eg. press release, track where, when and how your information appeared. Also it is a good idea to set up a simple mechanism to see the effect your PR efforts have had on your business such as new leads, new partnerships etc.

PR can be a powerful marketing tactic for your small business and it pays to do your homework first to ensure a successful outcome.
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April 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

How Not to Reassure Customers

Yesterday it was reported in the media that Kleenmaid, an appliance company was placed in voluntary administration and placed a video on You Tube. It is not known if customers were aware that they needed to view the video to get information.

The video is called an “Official Address to the Nation” and was supposed to reassure customers who have paid money but have not received the appliances and creditors. It appears that embedding the video has been denied by request and instead if you press forward on the video below you can only view other Kleenmaid videos. To see the actual video just click on this link.

 

 Today there are so many tools that a company can use in their marketing and to strengthen relationships with customers, partners etc. This can be true even if a company is in trouble and wants to maintain or even improve their standing with their community. However, if the marketing tools or activities are not part of an overall marketing strategy and designed to enhace relationships then they can be a waste of time and money. Even worse the customer relationships can be irreparably damaged.

I do not know the reasons behind the decision to post the video and may be missing the point, but I don’t find the video particularly reassuring.

Would you have posted a video on You Tube in these circumstances or would you have used other marketing activities to reassure customers?

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April 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Are You Retaining or Expanding Your Business With Key Customers?

Business questionThe key to developing and implementing an effective marketing plan is knowing who your most profitable customers are, how you can retain and keep these customers loyal.

Retaining Your Key Customers
Any successful business will tell you that retaining your key customers is more cost-effective than trying to attract new ones. It is therefore essential that you start to set objectives and develop marketing strategies and marketing tactics that focus on the retention of your most valuable customers.

When developing marketing tactics to retain your customers you should consider:

  • Is your key point of difference still relevant?
  • How can you differentiate your product or service from your competitors?
  • What do your most profitable customers value about your product or service?
  • Where can you add extra value into your product or service offering?
  • What might entice your most profitable customers to move to a competitor?
  • Which loyalty building tactics (eg. customer service program, loyalty program etc) are needed to protect your most profitable customers?

Expanding Your Business with Existing Customers
Once you have started to establish a positive relationship with your existing customers you can then look at ways in which you can increase the amount of money they spend with you each time they purchase. There are two ways that you can expand upon existing customer relationships- either through up sell (buying more of the same product or service) or cross-sell (buying other products or services in your range).

When developing marketing tactics to expand on your existing customers you should consider:

  • What percentage of your customers needs do you currently fulfil?
  • What additional revenue would be generated if you simply sold an additional product or service to an existing customer group?
  • Which target group segment represents the greatest opportunity for up sell?
  • What are the most appropriate expansion tactics (eg. multiple buy discounts, gift with more than one purchase, cross sell offers etc) for each of your target markets?

By examining your current key customers, seeing where you can add value and selecting the right marketing tactics will assist your small business in the market especially when market conditions are tough.

What are your tips to retain or expand business with key customers?
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April 14, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

I Actually Meant to Say…..

communication 

The world appears to becoming smaller with the tools and technology to communicate in many different ways and mediums throughout the world. However what we say in forums, on blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc can land us in trouble or even cause embarrassment.

In the morning’s paper this morning two articles highlighted the issue. The first was about the gaffe Hugh Jackman supposedly made on Twitter calling the Opera House the Opera Center. The second was reports that comments made on Facebook were supposedly passed to employers by colleagues which led to sackings.

These 2 articles are a reminder for me that:

  • What we type online is there for everyone, including potential customers to see and interpret according to their perceptions.
  • Whilst there are so many ways to track and keep a watch on what our competitors are doing they are most likely doing the same thing to get the jump on our business.
  • Remember the saying: “treat people how you would like to be treated” and you can’t go too wrong even if you disagree with another post or comment.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge as we often do not know the whole circumstances and as it was reported in one of the articles comments may be taken out of context.
  • Politeness costs nothing and no one is right all the time on every subject.
  • Potential customers and business partners can form impressions about us, our business, product or services as the initial stepping stone to forming a relationship.

What do you think?
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April 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

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