Science vs. Art…or both

I recently spoke to a few members of a Marketing team and although they had great Marketing ideas, they had trouble getting adoption from their Field and Channel Marketing teams. They couldn’t figure out why – great ideas, great team members, great product, great corporate revenue…

As I started asking questions, I quickly realized that they considered Marketing to Field and Channel a science. You do A and B and C will automatically happen. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Marketing to Sales people and Channel partners isn’t a math equation, it’s a lot more than that…I’d say they have half the equation down pat. But, the other half is completely missing and in 2015 it’s a shame to say they are definitely not the only Marketing teams that have this problem.

So what’s the problem? The “art” is missing. Marketing to Sales and Channel partners is also an art. You cannot have a team focused on creating Marketing programs that just push those programs out. You absolutely absolutely absolutely must have a relationship with those folks to whom you are giving the programs. I can’t emphasize this enough!!! You have to understand their goals, what motivates them, get their input and feedback and just know them. Believe it or not, it sounds easier than it really is.

I’ve been at many companies where the Marketing team has no idea who the Sales teams are and couldn’t name four Sales people. Marketing teams where they haven’t spoken to anyone on the Sales or Channel team in months, yet are focused on helping them sell more. Does that make any sense to you? I really hope not!

I don’t care who you are, where you work or what you do for work, if you don’t have a connection with people, your fantastic ideas will fail! It’s that simple! Anyone remember “new Coke“? This example might be a radical one, but you get the point. If you’re goal is help people, talk to them.

Field and Channel Marketing is both a science and an art. Metrics are important but you also have to have a relationship with the stakeholders. Doesn’t matter how fantastic your program is, if you don’t have end user buy in, it’ll flop.

What I Have Learned from the U.S. Court System

I spent a few days last week  in jury selection and it was a very eye-opening experience for me.  I had never been brought into the courtroom for the selection process before so it was all new to me and I had no idea what to expect.  Below are some things that I learned while sitting in the galley for hours upon hours without talking or reading.  Some of the things the court did very well and others needed a lot of improvement.  I’m not going to tell you which ones they did well and those which needed help.  I’ll let you hypothesize. Overall, they all related to how to treat customers so below I share my thoughts with you.

In no particular order…

– Thank your customers. Who doesn’t like a nice “Thank you!” Just make sure that it’s sincere.

– Be nice to your customers. There are many other places they would like to be or other vendors they’d rather be working with so treat them as you’d like to be treated.

– There’s never an excuse to yell at customers. Don’t yell at anyone for that matter.  That’s it!

– A friendly smile and hello never hurt anyone. It could be the best part of someone’s day.

– Be courteous of time. When you say a meeting will start at 9, have it start at 9.

– Don’t break the pace. If things are going well during a call and you have more allotted time, don’t stop to schedule another call.  Take advantage of the time you’re given and make the most out of it.

– Encourage feedback. It might not all be good but if your customers are talking about you, you should want to know what they’re saying.

– Don’t say one thing and do another.

– If there are rules to be followed, explain them. Don’t cheat your customers by penalizing them for things that aren’t in writing or they are not aware of.

What have you learned from the court system that would translate over to customers?

Employees Are Your Most Important Customers

I recently read “The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win” by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen. The premise of the book is that companies are starting to (and should be) focused on the social aspect of their business rather than just selling more products.  The social aspect includes doing good for your community as well as the environment.  Throughout the book, case studies are given on companies such as Seventh Generation, Threadless.com, Southwest Airlines and Marks & Spencer to name a few. 

I found the book very interesting and it made me realize how important it is for companies (of all sizes) to be good to its employees, customers, community and environment.  So often companies are too worried about their bottom line.  Although it’s absolutely understandable, especially when you’re a public company and Wall Street is breathing down your neck, it’s still our responsibility to be good to all.

My favorite (and most relevant based on my customer reference and loyalty background) part of the book was chapter three which is called “Not a Company, but a Community – a Blueprint for Summoning People’s Potential”.  Former Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher is quoted saying “When you treat [your employees] right, they will treat your customers right. This has been a powerful competitive weapon for us.”  How powerful and true of a quote is that?!  If you have happy employees, it’ll be passed on to your customers.  Happy customers also lead to repeat business and increased referrals which then leads to increased profits and a reduced amount of spending on gaining new customers. 

Another section of the chapter refers to a 2008 Towers Perrin study which stated “71 percent of the respondents said they were ‘disengaged’ or ‘disenchanted’ at work.  The study reported that employees ‘care a lot about their work’ and they want to ‘learn and grow.'”  Eye opening huh?  What if we actually treated employees like our customers?  Not a bad idea.

I Love You, but I’m Not IN LOVE With You!

We’ve all seen the movie where the girl or guy turns to their significant other and says “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe while other times you want to yell at the TV and say “Duh!!!!!” Shouldn’t the recipient of the news have known? You can tell when someone loves you compared to being in love with you right?! Most of the time I think it’s pretty obvious.

Companies often fall into the same situation when you change the first “love” to “satisfaction” and the second to “loyal”. Companies tend to think that satisfied customers are enough, but it’s not. You want loyal customers! Companies also tend to think that satisfaction and loyalty are the same.  They are very different!

To read more, please visit my guest blog for The Insight Advantage.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp WOMM can be as powerful as your sales team.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a weekly blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.

Customers Reference Tactics When Companies are Acquired and Acquiring

We all know that customer retention is more cost effective and easier than customer acquisition right?  Well, we should know that.  It takes less money to keep a customer happy and have them tell others about how great your company is than it is to convince a brand new prospect that your product/company is fabulous.  Less time, money and manpower is needed when you’ve kept a customer happy.  You also get the benefit of a customer talking positively about you.  Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is priceless.

But what happens when a company is acquired?  What happens to the customers?  In this case, the dynamics change a bit. 

I have worked with companies that have been acquired and ones that have acquired others.  It’s a difficult and very touchy subject – at least in a B2B scenario. In the case where I was working at a company that was acquired, the customers were very worried about their future.  The product roadmap was a concern for them because they wanted to know if the investment they had made in the acquired company would all be gone.  Will they have to buy new products?  And what about the support they were receiving.  Sometimes they were afraid that they’d turn into a little fish in a big pond rather than being a big fish in a little pond.

And for the times when I was working at a company that acquired others, the acquired customers felt the same but they were very hesitant to talk to me – the reference person.  They had thoughts like who is this new person from a bigger company asking for things?  What does she want? How soon will she forget about me? What’s in it for me?

In both cases, it is extremely important to talk to the customers.  Let them know what’s going on and if and how things will change.  Treat customers on both sides of the scenario with respect and let them know that they are still important. 

In some cases, you may find that newly acquired customers will be very happy initially but then realize that they are being fogotten. In other cases they’ll be upset, nervous and unsure and then become very loyal.  If you measure customer loyalty/satisfaction by your own means or via Net Promoter Score  (NPS) do you see a difference before the acquisition and then after? Keep a pulse on your customers and don’t forget about them.

We, as reference professionals, have a great opportunity at a time like this to be support for customers.  Take advantage of the opportunity and connect with customers if you’re getting acquired and touch base as soon as you can with customers when you have acquired.  Reach out, say hi and introduce yourself.   Let them know that you’re there for them.

Another aspect of a merger or acquisition is the employee loyalty level.  If employees speak negatively about the acquisition, it’ll be passed on to customers.  If employees speak positively about the acquisition, it’ll be passed on to the customers. Internal stakeholders are equally as important as external.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but keep all employees along the customer corridor happy.

Remember that customers are people first, then customers!  How would you want to be treated?

Building Customer Loyalty – One Tweet at a Time

A co-worker of mine is a huge fan of the site Despair.com.  I hadn’t heard of them until she showed me the calendar she made on their site last year.  It’s absolutely hilarious and you have to check your pulse if you don’t find yourself cracking up when reading their “demotivators”.

 

Last week my co-worker made a comment on Twitter about how she loved the site and how she makes personal calendars on their site every year.  A few days later she received a cute print t-shirt but she had no idea from whom.  She got onto Twitter and mentioned it and it turns out that one of the marketing folks at Despair.com (@wailinglist) saw her tweet and sent her the t-shirt as a thank you for the shout out.  When she got her calendar in the mail yesterday they had also added a poster.

 

So what’s the point of this?

 

          Use social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find out what people are saying about you.

 

          Be active when you see that you’re being talked about.  Thank those that say good things and fix the problems when people say bad things.  Great job @wailinglist! 

 

          Word-of-mouth (WOM) has a huge impact on buyer perception.  If my co-worker had said something bad about Despair.com, it could have had a huge negative impact.  Now, there will be positive impact as I’m sure they’ve gained more followers.

 

Thanks to a savvy marketing person at Despair.com who uses social media to find out what customers are saying, not only is my co-worker thrilled that she got a free t-shirt and poster, but her loyalty to the company is as strong as ever and she’s telling others.

 

What did you do this week to make a customer loyal?