Given this week’s focus on relationships and the importance of finding a good fit between yourselves and your clients, I thought it would be worth revisiting this post that we did last year.
Many people think that marketing is all about finding opportunities to sell your products & services. The focus is on generating leads and managing them through the pipeline. In reality, this is sales. The heart of marketing is much more about understanding & building a relationship with your market, and giving them a reason to love your brand.
Step 1 – Understand what makes your customers happy
It may sound obvious, but marketing is first and foremost an outward-looking discipline. Anyone involved in marketing should spend significant time talking to customers. Talk online through social media, surveys etc, or face to face visiting exhibitions, networking or spending time with salespeople. Knowing what makes your customers tick, what makes them happy and most importantly what difficulties they have both with your company and competitors should be at the core of your activities as a marketer. Delivering value should be your number one priority, and the only way you can do this is understanding what your clients value.
Step 2 – Tailor your offering to Meet/Exceed their expectations
Only when you truly know your market, and how to add value should your focus turn inward to the services & products you offer and how you interact with your marketplace to deliver these. Even here your primary objective must be to tailor what you do to the benefit of your clients. If your clients don’t value something, then why do it. If they value it, they will be willing to pay for it, so do it. Apple’s customers value the quality & slick design of their products, and Steve Jobs famously said:
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
Now the bottom line is important to every business, and you ignore it at your peril, but whilst using the plywood would definitely improve the bottom line. If your clients value craftsmanship, then not using the plywood is the right thing to do, as it will help you to exceed expectations. Ultimately if they value it, they will pay for it.
Love your clients & they will love you back
Step 3 – Work continually to develop the level of value you deliver to your clients
This process is iterative, and once you start on the journey, you need to keep going. As you deliver to your clients, their expectations will rise. As a result, you will need to be getting continuous feedback from your marketplace. You are back to step one. Embedding this process into your day to day management practices means that you will continually enhance your brand. Stay in line with and ideally ahead of expectations. Your clients will love you for it.
The key to a long-lasting relationship
This is all well and good, but when considering all of the above, it is important to keep your own company’s objectives and goals in mind. As David discusses in his post this week, it’s important to find a good fit, between what your clients need, and what you are best suited to delivering. That way you will find it much easier to deliver for your clients without creating a headache for yourself.