Archive for Marketing Tips

Relationship Networks – Customer and Supplier Networks

Posted in CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by Consultant
Selling and Marketing is no longer the same what it used to be few decades ago. Traditional methods of sales and promotions have long been relegated to history. Technology, Internet as well as globalization have redefined every aspect of Marketing and Sales. Organizations have realised the importance of being in tune with the markets and customers. They are also embarking on investing on relationship with the customers for the Relationship Management aspect is becoming very important for the success of the business. Companies are tuning in to identify and get to know the customer better and anticipate his needs for tomorrow. Customer feedback as well as needs are being seen as vital information to product innovation as well as for customer retention. Especially in the recent times where social networking is gaining ground, customer contact and relationship management is becoming more visible and instantaneous.

Organizations have realised that Relationship Marketing is not related to the marketing function alone. This concept is to be embraced at the Corporate level and implemented through all departments covering both internal as well as external customers, suppliers and other agencies that the Organization engages with.

As far as the Marketing and Sales is concerned, an Organization can be involved in multiple formats including B to B and B to C. Sales and Marketing is always a network of multi layered and multi level partners, intermediaries, vendors and agents etc. Relationship marketing aspect assumes high importance for the success of every transaction through the myriad networks. The Organization’s relationships can make or break its ultimate positioning in the market as well as affect the quality of the transaction with the end customer.

If an Organization is engaged in selling products or services to on B–C model, the dynamics of Relationship Management will be different from a B–B mode. Let us take the case of a Multi National Company engaged in manufacturing of Computers. The company would be sourcing or manufacturing at various geographical locations across the globe for supplies to different markets. It can be manufacturing at Company owned factories in different countries or using contract manufacturing partners to manufacture on their behalf. The products are transported through service providers using multi modal transportation networks and a host of agents handling the cargo movement from end to end. The products finally are sold to a whole seller or stockist or sold by the Company to the institutional buyers. There can also be cases where the company maintains its own third party warehouses and sells to the retailers. In such complex networked supply chain the Organization has got to ensure that the products are supplied timely, as per customer requirement.

The Organizations success in being able to reach its products to the customer organization timely and successfully over a long period depends upon the seamless working of the entire network. This is possible when the Organization is able to build a relationship with every stake holder in the network and make that difference. In such complex networks, the process alone will not be able to sustain the transactions and the relationship or the emotional connect with the people involved is what makes things happen. Organizations will necessarily have to invest in building strong partnerships with principle service providers and partners so that they are able to get the partners to deliver a happy experience to the end customer too.

When the customer is an institutional customer or a business, the complexities of transactions pose a challenge to the Organizations. In all such businesses the Organizations set up dedicated Key Account Relationship Managers and teams at various levels to ensure that they reach out to the customer and build relationship at multiple levels where it matters. Therefore there can be multiple levels of relationship building that one needs to engage with including at the actual user level to the procurement, technical as well as management level at the customer end. The Organizations would have to accordingly formulate a relationship management strategy and process as well as create a team to build and grow the relationship in such cases. In the end the dedicated focus and investment made into such relationships pays well in terms of future business opportunities.

Advertisements

Organizations and Relationship Marketing

Posted in CRM, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by Consultant
Traditionally with Organizations the customers belonged to and were the responsibility of the Marketing Department alone. Organizations probably had too many constraints on meeting the demands and were saddled with limited product range that did not require them to look out and reach out to the Customer. However with evolution of technology, mass production processes as well as expanding geographical markets, the Organizations began to realize the need to reorient their understanding of the business and the way to manage the business. To a large extent we can very well say that the Customer Relationship Marketing did not originate only in the marketing department. It developed as an Organizational approach and management thought.

Management experts and Organizations have come a long way in terms of their outlook to the internal and external environment. Today Organizations have begun to understand and recognize the relationship that exists between the Stockholders, the Employees and the Customers who provide the reason as well as the resources for the Organization to exist and grow.

There exists a mutually inclusive relationship between all the three factors. Organizations need to manage the relationship dynamics on all the three fronts. This understanding has further brought about the Management thought and approach to orient and imbibe Relationship Marketing as an Organizational Philosophy.

An Organization does not recognize the customer in the market to be the only stake holder in its relationships. The Company has ongoing relationships both internally as well as externally at many levels and tiers. The Company strives to build excellent and long term relationships with its strategic suppliers as well as the intermediaries important for its business. Sales and Distribution partners including whole sales, channel partners as well as point of sale retailers form a part of the chain which needs to be handled via the relationship platform.

The number of relationships that the Organization is required to manage are spread over several areas. Ongoing Relationship Management with Current Employees as well as prospective employees becomes very important for the Organization as the Human resource is a key resource for its business. Besides the employees, suppliers, as well as the Customers and intermediaries, the Organization has a relationship that needs to be managed with the public, Government as well as media too.

Therefore it should be very clearly understood that Relationship Marketing is a business philosophy and not a marketing strategy. Of course Marketing strategy and plans are built around this Organizational philosophy and value of Relationship Marketing.

Managements have successfully adapted to the concept of internal and external Relationship Marketing and have benefited immensely from it. Internally the concept of internal customer has yielded tremendous advantageous and brought about efficiencies in operations. TQM, JIT, Six Sigma philosophies have been successfully implemented thanks to the fundamental concept of internal customers and customer satisfaction.

Apart from marketing and sales functions which are exposed to the Customers and markets and hence need to be sensitized and oriented towards relationship management, the Organizations have realized the need to sensitize the other departments including Finance, HR, Technical Service, Customer Service as well as the Product Development and legal departments towards relationship Management with he customers. This orientation has benefited the Organizations immensely besides changing the service dynamics for the customers.

Limitations of Marketing Research

Posted in Brand Managment, CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by Consultant

limitations of Marketing Research:

  • Marketing Research (MR) is not an exact science though it uses the techniques of science. Thus, the results and conclusions drawn upon by using MR are not very accurate.
  • The results of MR are very vague as MR is carried out on consumers, suppliers, intermediaries, etc. who are humans. Humans have a tendency to behave artificially when they know that they are being observed. Thus, the consumers and respondents upon whom the research is carried behave artificially when they are aware that their attitudes, beliefs, views, etc are being observed.
  • MR is not a complete solution to any marketing issue as there are many dominant variables between research conclusions and market response.
  • MR is not free from bias. The research conclusions cannot be verified. The reproduction of the same project on the same class of respondents give different research results.
  • Inappropriate training to researchers can lead to misapprehension of questions to be asked for data collection.
  • Many business executives and researchers have ambiguity about the research problem and it’s objectives. They have limited experience of the notion of the decision-making process. This leads to carelessness in research and researchers are not able to do anything real.
  • There is less interaction between the MR department and the main research executives. The research department is in segregation. This all makes research ineffective.
  • MR faces time constraint. The firms are required to maintain a balance between the requirement for having a broader perspective of customer needs and the need for quick decision making so as to have competitive advantage.
  • Huge cost is involved in MR as collection and processing of data can be costly. Many firms do not have the proficiency to carry wide surveys for collecting primary data, and might not also able to hire specialized market experts and research agencies to collect primary data. Thus, in that case, they go for obtaining secondary data that is cheaper to obtain.
  • MR is conducted in open marketplace where numerous variables act on research settings.

Building Customer Satisfaction, Value and Retention

Posted in eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , on December 4, 2011 by Consultant
In this world of extreme competition, companies with a total focus on customer are going to be the winner. Companies must understand importance of customer satisfaction and then build process around it. A satisfied customer will be a loyal customer.

There are large offering of products and services available in the market then why the customer should choose a given company’s product. According to various research and studies it has been confirmed that consumer will purchase products, which given them maximum perceived value. This value comes from calculating the cost associated with the emotional level decision like the brand image, corporate brand, sales personnel image and functional image. This value converts to total customer cost by including purchase cost, time-energy in evaluation of product and intuitive cost.

Consumer will take decisions after considering the total cost associated with purchase, perceived and otherwise. If after the purchase product performs as expected than customer is considered satisfied. A completely satisfied customer

is likely to repurchase the product and even promote the product through a word of mouth. Companies are aiming for total customer satisfaction, which can be achieved after understanding customer expectation and then delivering as per the expectation.

Companies are able to achieve this state of total customer satisfaction by incorporating good business practices. These practices are constructed around stakeholders, business process, resource and organization. Company’s stakeholders consist of employees, suppliers, distributors and customers. Earlier focus has always solely been on shareholders, but now stakeholders need to be satisfied for shareholder’s profit. Companies need to define boundaries of relation with stakeholders as to get maximum value for every participant. To ensure maximum value, companies need to develop business processes, which understand and fulfill customer expectations. This can be achieved by aligning cross functional teams across critical processes, to create one smooth flow. Companies need to understand its core competencies and develop them, thereby successfully managing its resources. Organizational structure, design and policies have to be suitable to facilitate the introduction of total customer satisfaction culture.

Companies through creating and delivering value can develop total customer satisfaction. Company itself can be considered as a value chain consisting of primary and secondary activities. Primary activities consist of inbound materials, operation, delivering finished products, sales/marketing and servicing clients. Secondary activities consist of functional departments like technology department, procurement department, human resource and finance department. This value created is delivered to customer through the distribution channel under the principle of supply chain management.

Customers in the digital age are much more conscious and aware of their need and wants, making them a difficult lot to please. Companies run marketing campaign highlighting points of similarity and difference with competitor’s products. The art is not at attracting the customer, but it is at retaining the customer and creating long term relation with them. Companies usually suffer from churning effect where customers do not make the repurchase. Companies need to work hard in identifying reasons behind this churning. Once reasons are identified separate them on the basis of manageable and non-manageable issues and then work hard at eliminating manageable issues.

Companies need to develop policies and measure at retaining customers along with attracting new customers. This art of retention can be achieved through customer relationship management (CRM). In CRM the task is to develop strong consumer based brand equity, which is done by converting first time buyer to repeat buyer to a client to a member to advocates and finally to partners. During these course companies can look forward to offering financial benefits in terms of discount for frequent buyers or also by association with a social cause.

Companies are in business to make the profit. Therefore, it has to identify profitable customers. Profitable customers provide a revenue stream more than the expense stream on retaining them. And this revenue stream should be higher for a company to have a competitive advantage. More and more companies are deploying total quality management approach across the organization to build and deliver customer satisfaction.

Five Proven Ways to Improve ROI Using Marketing Automation

Posted in B2B, Brand Managment, Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , on December 4, 2011 by Consultant

Earlier this year, I participated in a 14-city roadshow on revenue marketing with my buddy Jim Lenskold of the Lenskold Group. An expert on marketing return on investment (ROI), Jim has authored a book on the topic, published research, and worked with large, enterprise customers to improve their marketing ROI.

The showstopper for me was one of Jim’s presentation slides titled “Five Main Opportunities to Improve ROI”:

Source: Lenskold Group

What I like about that slide is how strongly it validates the impact of marketing automation on the sales cycle. Furthermore, it details five scenarios for how marketing automation tools help drive revenue.

 

Curious about the five ways marketing automation generates ROI? Here they are, listed in order, from highest to lowest impact.

1. Target high-value, high-potential leads

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, many marketers brush over that key element of segmentation. Yet it is one of the most powerful features of marketing automation in that it allows you to segment at any stage of the client buy cycle, and do so automatically.

Lead scoring, personalization, and automatic segmentation based on behavior can be a huge ROI winner. Interestingly, the more mature the revenue marketer is in her overall competency, the more focused she is on No. 1: targeting high-value, high-potential leads.

2. Improve conversion late in the funnel

Think you can’t do that? With marketing automation, you can—and should—because the math is crazy. For most clients, improving conversions late in the funnel is an area of low-hanging fruit and has a huge impact.

For example, a client of my firm converts only 2% of all trials. A trial occurs very late in the cycle, and a 1% uptick in conversion rates has an immediate and incredible impact on revenue and marketing ROI. So the plan is to use the client’s marketing automation system to more effectively nurture the experience, and to do it dynamically based on the response to and use (or nonuse) of the program during the trial.

3. Reduce leakage with better integration

We call this approach “No Good Lead Left Behind,” and with marketing automation the upside is big. Take the time to map out the life of a lead, from cold lead to close, and look at those key areas where leads are leaking or pouring out of the process. Once you understand where and why leads are leaking, you can plug those leaks with automatic nurturing via your marketing automation system, especially when it is integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

The example given in No. 2 also serves as an excellent example here. Another example would be a lead that is passed to Sales when the lead is not ready. Typically, that lead will be lost or rebought at a later date. With marketing automation, the sales rep can place that lead back into a nurturing program with two clicks, or Marketing can set up an automatic sweep of aged leads that’ll put them back into the nurture program. Easy.

4. Accelerate leakage of low-potential prospects

In other words, take out the trash frequently. Removing that noise and distraction from the system can have huge benefits for both ROI and Marketing-Sales relations. By working on data quality and instituting a highly effective lead-scoring program to take out the trash early, you can diminish that noise and the revenue drainers.

5. Gain efficiency and eliminate low-impact media

Efficiency and spending money on high-return marketing programs are the hallmarks of an effective marketing automation program. The top reason marketers buy marketing automation software is to attain proof of results and to help them make decisions.

Ever fought with Sales about the effectiveness of going to a tradeshow or on running an ad? Marketing automation, and the reporting that comes with it, will enable you to have a business discussion with proof points.

* * *

The ROI discussion for marketing will not go away or die down. That is the new reality for today’s marketing organization. Using tools, people, and processes to effectively contribute to revenue and demonstrate ROI is job one for all revenue marketers.

Posted in Brand Managment, CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Consultant

Workplace Motivation – Carrot or Stick approach doesn’t work anymore

“I am in this job because I have no other option.” If this is what an employee of your company feels, read on to know how this statement can be changed to something more positive – “I love what I do.”

First things first – whose responsibility is it to ensure that an employee loves his job? While an employee would say – the employer, the human resource experts have a different point of view which sounds fair. It’s both the employer and the employee who should work together to make work fun for each other.

It is interesting to know here, that employees do not rank ’salary’ as the top factor in determining whether they like their jobs or not. What is important to them then – the opportunity to do what is ’important’. Almost all the employees would like to feel part of the big picture and would want to contribute to the organizational goals in some way or the other. Doing the mundane, routine work will never excite them – what excites them is – work that challenges them to use their talent. Right Management Consultants conducted a survey sometime back and found

that 83% of about 500 workers surveyed were motivated by “challenges at work”.

Also, as per an executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, while salary and promotions could do a great job of demotivating people if handled ineffectively, they aren’t so much effective in motivating people.

So then what needs to be done for effective motivation at workplace?

Link Rewards directly to Performance- An organization should adopt a fair reward structure which provides incentive to the most deserving employee. Have an incentive structure in place doesn’t solve the problem… what makes it workable is the employees trust in the system and believe that they will be rewarded if they perform well.
Compliment employees- Even though an employee’s name has not appeared in the list of people getting incentives, go ahead and compliment that employee for a job well done – no matter how small. There is nothing more satisfying to an employee than a pat on his back.
Be transparent- While there may be some strategic decisions which you might want to share with the employees at a later stage, make sure employees do not give in to the rumours. Stay in touch with the employees.
Work on your PDP- Every employee is responsible for his / her own career. He / she should work towards his ’Personal Development Plan’ [PDP] as discussed and agreed by his manager. Find out what are the training company offers and which is best suited to his development needs. How this will motivate you – remember training always increase your marketability and enhance your career.
Participate and Network- Employees – Remember you work for a company where a one-on-one attention might not be possible. Do not wait for an invitation to participate in a discussion. If you are a part of a forum, then you have full right to express your opinion and be a part of the process. Expressing yourself is a good way of motivating yourself.

Posted in B2B, Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts), Search Engine Optimization with tags , , , , on November 29, 2011 by Consultant

Social CRM: Measuring Relationships (the Wrong Way, and the Right Way)

I can’t tell you how many things—magazine articles, email newsletters, Facebook updates, tweets, blog posts—come across my desk every week that purport to be about “social CRM” (customer relationship management) measurement tools.

Actually, I could.

I could make a pretty little chart and break it down by type of article, and even by source.

And it might look something like this:

I think we could all agree that the value of this chart is questionable, at best. It’s pretty, and if we tracked it over time, we might even be able to find some insights. We could use it as an indicator of how much interest there is in this topic. Some might even use it to predict growth in this area of marketing.

But no one would propose we use this method to determine the value of the relationships I have with the topics I’m measuring.

So why are so many brands using tools just like this to measure social media engagement?

The problem, in a nutshell, is this: garbage in, garbage out. But before we can discuss how to get the proper data inputs, we need to explore what social CRM could and should be to an organization.

I was quite surprised and saddened to see a quote from someone at Eloqua implying that social CRM is about support requests (at least that’s what the quote seems to imply). “Although social CRM and support are, justifiably, hot topics in the media, calls for support account for only 1% of all tweets,” Joe Chernov wrote in a post titled “Your Social Media Followers Are Your Best Customers.”

Social CRM is about building and managing relationships of value in a world where brands require a digital and social presence:

  • For someone with a promotions background, that means identifying likely candidates for offers and tracking them through to conversion.
  • For someone with a lead-generation or B2B background, that means getting candidates to self-identify and passing them into a lead-management system.
  • For someone with an advertising or media background, that means paying lots of money for TV ads with some mysterious end result of increasing sales. (OK, that is a bad example.)
  • For a digital marketer, it means everything. We can no longer afford to not attach profit and revenue valuations to our efforts.

I will talk more about building social CRM programs in a later article. Here, I want to focus on a key aspect of social CRM: our ability to measure our success at building relationships of value.

Let’s go back to that first chart. It’s an indicator that could show us increased interest, over time, in the topic we’re monitoring. I could run a search in January. Then in February, I could run the search again and compare how many people are promoting these tools vs. January. Rinse and repeat.

We end up with a chart that appears in just about every social media monitoring report:

Here, we see the number of people talking about terms that are of interest to us, month over month. It could be about product mentions. It could be about key issues. That doesn’t matter. What really matters is how this data helps us understand the value of the relationships we are building (or not building).

But wait. That’s not what this chart shows us. It just shows us how many people are talking about something we are searching for. They could be the same people every period, or there could be 100% churn with no consistency across periods. For all we know, our efforts could simply be driving volume at the cost of relationships.

Someone usually pipes up at this point and shows me how they are tracking sentiment. Great. So we’re carefully tracking whether overall group mentality and conversation is trending positive or negative, but we still have no way to measure the relationships. Awesome.

I should point out that the fault for all of this confusion lies partly with the tool providers. We are all starting with measurements that social media monitoring tools just happen to provide. But what if we weren’t? What questions would we ask if we were designing this measurement program from the ground up? What knowledge would we want? How would we design the reporting tools to help us build long-term relationships of value to our brand?

Here are just some of the types of key questions we should be asking:

  • How many of the people from January are also active in February? What about in March?
  • Is there a core group of people driving different conversations?
  • What percentage of these people want to engage with our brand?
  • Is the group that talks about us more often over time more or less likely to purchase or participate in an activity?

In the charts presented earlier, we’re actually throwing away the data we gathered the previous month. So the first question we need to answer is this: What percentage of people from one period is still taking about us in a later period?

We need to start creating and seeing charts like this one:

If you’ve invested a lot in social or digital media, I hope you have a growing percentage of people talking about you or engaging with you month over month and quarter over quarter. And, if you do, who are these people? Which ones are driving the conversation? How do their sentiments compare with those of the rest? Or, my favorite question: what else are they talking about?

In short, it’s also important to look at how influence is being defined. Tools like Klout provide great shortcuts for understanding the activity and reach of individuals online. But what if your influencers don’t rate highly in Klout? What if they are everyday people who are so passionate about your brand that they are talking about you every month… and you just don’t know who they are?