What Is On Your Customer's Mind?

©1999 All Rights Reserved

There has been much discussion about the difference between SALES and MARKETING. Let's clarify the two:

SALES is getting business. It's a numbers game. Your telephone will ring in direct correlation to the number of telephone calls you make. Sales is making contacts to find and qualify people or companies you want to do business with and building rapport to the point you can professionally earn the right to "ask for their business."

MARKETING includes sales and it encompasses all other facets of communications that introduce, educate, and build awareness of what you and your company offer which will benefit people if they chose to do business with you. Marketing includes advertising, networking, mail and telephone communications, image, public relations and the all-important customer service and word-of-mouth recommendations (or complaint...be aware that marketing can have a negative effect as well!) It also includes billing forms, survey forms, operations calls, and even past-due notices. It's brand, product, service, company, and individual recognition and awareness. Each time prospects or customers see or hear from you -- or about you -- it's marketing!

Did you ever think about why you chose to do business with one company or individual? How do you become aware of a particular brand and decide to try it?

Somehow, some way, through marketing, you know that this company or product exists. Chances are, something that you have seen or heard has enticed you to consider using this new service or doing business with a certain individual.

The secret to marketing effectively is consistency. It always helps to be FIRST in the marketplace with a new service. But remember this: It's better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace! Marketing is not a battle of products and services, it's a battle of perceptions.

Consider this definition of the word motivation: The balance between the pull of hope and the push of discomfort. Think about that for a moment. Before anyone makes a decision to take action, particularly toward making a change, he must be motivated. A good analogy for the insurance industry is the father who is considering buying a life insurance policy. His pull of hope may be picturing his wife and family continuing their present lifestyle, securing their future, in the event he should die prematurely. His push of discomfort might be knowing his wife would have problems supporting their small children by herself. He is motivated to seek financial advice when his discomfort level motivates him and he hopes to provide for unforeseen family needs.

Marketing efforts should be directed toward motivating people. Here are four steps to assure that you are marketing effectively in a positive manner:

1. Conduct a marketing audit...Here's how:
• Collect ALL communications information now being offered by you and your company. Leave out nothing! (Think about your call-hold message. Be sure to include the style of your letterhead. Don't forget your invoices!)

• Look and listen to all communications as if you are the customer.

2. Begin to correlate materials "best to least," separating any materials which are not appropriate or consistent with what you want to communicate.

3. Develop or restructure your marketing plan to communicate consistently what best fits the needs of your customers and builds successful business.

4. Work your plan!

In building market awareness, repetition is good. Mind penetration takes place only through hearing something again and again and again. Don't you know, the people who have worked at Coke for years get tired of hearing, "Things go better with Coca-Cola?" But to consumers, that's brand awareness at it's best. How about, "You deserve a break today?" Don't you get hungry for a Big-Mac?

Another important feature for your marketing plan is simplicity. Never confuse your customers with industry jargon or complex slogans.

In summary, review what you are now communicating, evaluate your current marketing efforts, and restructure your marketing plan to better motivate your customers. Then work your plan consistently and with repetition and simplicity.

Vickie Henry is CEO of FEEDBACK PLUS INC., a company known as the "customer loyalty specialists", and author of the books Feedback on Sales and Feedback on Calls.

Category: Customer Care
Print page