Posts filed under ‘customer focus’
I just read a great post on Entrepreneur.com by Mark Stiving. “I continually find business owners price their products or services based on what they cost, versus what their customers are willing to pay. Even worse, I find businesses that base prices simply on what their competitors are able to get away with.” His advice:
- Listen to your customers.
- Know your competition.
- Be honest and fair in your self-evaluation.
- Recognize that customers are different from others.
On Sept. 1, Inc. Magazine published a list of seventeen “words of wisdom” from serial entrepreneurs whose companies are on this year’s Inc. 500. The second item on the list caught my eye. It is the headline of this blog post and was attributed to David Friend, CEO of Carbonite.
The company earned it’s spot as America’s fastest-growing IT service company by selling unlimited online backup space for personal computers. Carbonite grew 11,208 percent in three years, earning $19.1 million in revenue.
What can we learn from David Friend’s admonition to write the ad before we build the product? It’s simple. Building a product is painstaking, detailed work. It takes a lot of time, energy and investment to get things right. Once it’s ready, the sales and marketing folks have to sell it. It is the product after all.
But writing the ad first makes us focus on the customer before we’re committed to a feature set. If we can communicate a real solution to our customers’ needs in just a few words, we’ll do a better job of designing the product. If we lose sight of the customer, we’ll have a much harder sell.
This afternoon, I got up from my desk and headed outside and up my driveway to fetch the mail. On the way, I noticed a small bit of shiny plastic at the edge of the drive and decided to pick it up for proper disposal on my way back to the house, er… office. We had a big wind storm two nights ago. The power was out for hours and trash cans had been tipped over. Stuff happens… no big deal.
When I picked up the plastic bag, I took a look and cracked a smile. There it was, on the edge of my driveway, the most elegant bit of marketing communication I had seen in quite a while.
It was a small plastic bag with a stone and a landscaper’s business card inside. “I work for people in this neighborhood and I’d like to work for you.”
Perfect package, focused targeting, elegant message. BOOM… a trifecta!
If I had been away, the plastic bag would have protected the message from the elements for quite awhile. It was tossed on the side of my driveway, so I wasn’t likely to destroy it with my tires. Business cards are cheap, and no postage was required. The stone can be recycled into my existing landscaping. The I’m just sayin’… this thing is elegant.
As it turns out, I already have a landscaper. BUT, I’m keeping this card just in case.
What’s the most elegant marketing message you received today? How can you learn from it to improve your own?
My wife likes gardening and she likes to bring her garden into the kitchen. Fresh herbs, root vegetables, fruits and berries. I am grateful for these things, but they are not the point of my story.
A few days ago, she received a greeting card in the mail. I recognized the logo on the card, so I assumed it was a “special offer” for a “special customer.” It was something far more powerful… a thank you card from Gardener’s Supply Company.
The copy thanked my wife for her recent order and welcomed her into Gardener’s Supply community. No special offers. No hype. Just gratitude. It made an immediate, positive impression.
Think about it. When you check out at the grocery store or your favorite retail shop, the clerk thanks you. Restaurant servers do the same. Online retailers often include a thank you message on their packing list or invoice, but it doesn’t make much of an impression. Does it?
Gardener’s Supply — a company willing to make an extra effort to deliver extraordinary customer service. Now that’s powerful marketing.
Most of my clients own or manage midsize companies. Some are tech-savvy, others not so much. None are able to spend a great deal of time worrying about the details of their marketing programs, especially the design and operation of their company websites.
A few years ago, I developed a presentation that looks at web strategy from the 30 thousand foot level. It asks a simple question: What is the most important business problem you can solve on the internet? This slide show walks you through the process I use in strategic planning sessions or workshops for CEOs and marketing teams.
In an hour, the execs have a strategy they can communicate to techies and creatives.