Posts filed under Database Marketing

What is the Marketer's Job #1?

What is the marketer's job #1 job?

Be careful here, because the obvious answer may not be the right one. Let's look quickly at some the top of mind responses.

- To make money by spending money
- To build the brand
- To reenforce the positioning image
- To coach his team of marketing professionals
- To set up a robust evaluation structure for marketing expenditures
- Test into successful new media models
- Create new products that prospects and customers will buy at an acceptable ROI for the company
- To sell management on bringing marketing to the C table
- To reduce customer attrition
- To build programs that achieve the sales results with more cost effective new customer acquisition
- Integrate all silos so the company speaks with a single voice when talking among themselves and the company's customers
- And the list goes on ad infinitum…

But as you see, the answer is all of these. And that's the problem.

Such an endless list not only exhausts the marketer who leads it but it stretches the organization to the breaking point.  Just "doing stuff" does not get the job done.

So I contend that the marketer's #1 job is prioritizing and reducing complexity so the organization can successfully implement processes that support the company's mission.

But here's the rub. The most talented marketer in the world cannot thrive in an organization where the mission is muddled and overly complex. So it all starts at the top and trickles down.

Even if there is a clear agenda with a grand mission, addressing the challenge can take many forms.

The marketer must strive for simplicity and clarity. This probably means no more than three key strategies at one time each year. No group, regardless of how large it is, will sustain broad based focused efforts beyond this level of complexity at any one time.

And please, make sure the tactics do not conflict with the strategy.

For example, one of my professional friends works in the online telemarketing group for one of the largest banks in the world. The group he manages must abide by strict rules about when his team takes a bathroom break, how long they spend on a single call and they are required to leave for lunch exactly at 12 noon. Any deviations, regardless of the reason is "written up."

Recently, my friend was "written up" for leaving for lunch at 12:07 even though solving a customer's problem who was on the phone should have been the greater priority.

This scenario is repeated hundreds of times throughout this organization demoralizing employees and contributing to customer discontent.

Adding injury to insult, the bank required attendance of a webinar for all employees telling them how important it is to satisfy customers and not give up without making certain the customer is taken care of.

This is an example of adding unnecessary complexity to customer service that not only assures the key strategy of customer retention fails, but frankly focuses on the wrong thing.

The bottom line: keep It simple, reduce complexity, and make sure your key strategies are supported by the marketing team and everybody in the company. In the end, your people will enjoy greater work satisfaction and your customers will make you rich.

Posted on April 5, 2011 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, Database Marketing.

Bad Idea -- Hiring "Heavy Hitters" for Agency Sales

The heavy hitter's primary toolMy network friend and I were discussing the status of advertising agency hiring in the US these days and how things have changed for both the good and the bad. We think this problem applies to any B-to-B sales involving high level corporate services.

Prompted by these discussions, he sent an email with a new B-to-B sales job. Here's what he wrote.


 Thought you would get a kick out this completely vacuous ad…no industry experience needed, no street credibility needed, just leave your successful job (which you can prove by submitting your w2’s), and join our company.  The world has gone mad!

Here's the advertisement for reference.

"Looking for an aggressive hunter who is ambitious, knows how to overcome obstacles and is driven to succeed. Must have an outstanding track record of selling products or services to sophisticated clients.

Our client is a well known 87B global firm and is more interested in your knowing how to build a business than your particular industry experience since extensive training is provided. 

Experience from any industry that requires a high degree of face-to-face presentations and relationship management is preferred. 

Must be an exceptional salesperson with a minimum of 12 year’s business experience (no maximum) and have consistently been a top earner in your industry.  

MUST have a college degree.  

No travel – outstanding benefits!"

There are several ways to interpret this advertisement and the motivations behind it. But I suspect that the hiring manager or the HR person who wrote this is looking for "Heavy Hitters" and all that it implies. 

Furthermore, I see an effort to attract discontented producers whose territories were cut or who were somehow wounded by their companies.

It's attraction with the negative.

Personally, if I were looking for a sales position, I would shy away from companies driven by prima donna sales people concepts. I am more interested in companies that are looking for sales leaders who know how to build and manage smooth running new business machines. When properly designed, these machines will survive the ups and downs presented by today's highly volatile business environments.

The "Heavy Hitter" mentality revolves around stars instead of the company. And accounts that are brought in this way can quickly fall in and out of love.

A client relationship must go well beyond a single individual to the many individuals available within the supplier company. It is actually a melding of purpose and vision between two partner organizations. Anything less will not produce a steady stream of profits for either the supplier or the client.

In what ways do you, the reader, see as misguided concepts about how successful new business programs work for B-to-B service companies? Any advice?

Posted on August 11, 2010 and filed under Lead Generation, New Business, Database Marketing.

Companies Creating "Loyal" Customers with Low Prices

For the company, a customer loyalty program strives to retain existing customers and increase the profits they bring with repeat purchases. The customer wants to save money by purchasing from the same company over and over again.

At least that is the primary and growing customer motivation according to a 2007 research study conducted by Forrester Research.

In the report entitled “Building Lasting Customer Loyalty,” Lisa Bradner writes:

“Fifty percent of consumers say that price is more important to them than brand. Retail customers asked to cite why they are loyal to their chosen retailer put price ahead of all other metrics.”

The research indicates that this customer behavior means that they endorse private label products across many categories because they are cheaper than national brands. National brands must work harder to build sufficient trust to counter this movement.

In other words, brands no longer automatically own quality. Product parity reinforces the customer’s attention away from quality concerns to price.

If you’re like me, you have noticed continuing improvement in private label products putting further pressure on brands in virtually all product lines.

My interpretation of this Forrester report: customers sign up for loyalty programs primarily for lower prices.   

So for those companies wanting loyal customers, understand that these customers are trained or naturally inclined to want a share of the profits you get from them for themselves. In the end, the plan requires that both the customer and the company win. The prize? Why money, of course.

But are these truly loyal customers?

We know that competing on price alone has no future. Or does it? Does this mean the eventual death of the brand? What advice do you have for companies as they face this new, sophisticated buyer? How can a company differentiate itself in the face of this reality? How do companies engender true loyalty instead of focusing primarily on price? Is that even possible in today's market place?   

Posted on December 26, 2007 and filed under Branding, Database Marketing.