Archive for Marketing

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.

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Relationship Marketing – Company and Marketing Perspective

Posted in Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by Consultant
We are living in the high tech times. Technology and changing economy have changed the rules the way a business is done. Business organizations have to tune in to various markets and know the customers well. The successful companies are those who have been able to anticipate the customer need and innovate future products leveraging on technology. In a global as well as local scenario, customer holds the key to the growth of business and organizations. No wonder that when you open your mail box or your email, you are always flooded with marketing communication from all possible companies trying to build a relationship with you. Take a look at the cards in your wallet and you must be holding quite a few membership cards that make you feel privileged and keeping bringing rewards and prompting you to extend your relationship with them.

Relationship Marketing has never been more important for the Organizations as it has been now. In the field where competition is intense and life cycle of products and services is very small, customer relationship has emerged to be one of the key drivers to contribute a large chunk of sales revenue. When we talk of relationship marketing, we are not referring to customer service. Customer service refers to the quality of service on a transactional mode. By Relationship Marketing, we are referring to the level of Relationship that exists between the customer and the company.

In terms of Relationship, there can be several ways of defining or measuring the quality of relationship with the Customer. Understanding of the depth of relationship and qualifying can help the Company in improving its reach to the markets as well as work towards increasing the depth of the relationship with the customer. In the first instance, we have a happy customer who has bought the product or a service and found it satisfactory.

When the Company reaches out to communicate with him and anticipate his future needs, he can be converted to a faithful customer. A faithful customer may be a repeat customer who does continues to buy the product from the company on repeat basis without making an effort to look at alternatives. However, at this stage the customer can be influenced and be vulnerable to competition as well as price sensitivity. Relationship marketing by the Company can help convert this customer from a faithful customer to a loyal customer. A loyal customer is one who has made an informed decision to go with the particular Company, is happy with the product, is loyal to the brand and is likely to advocate the same brand to friends and family because he believes in the Product as well as the Company and values the relationship. Apart from customer service, there are several marketing programmes and loyalty programmes besides brand advertising that the Companies carry out to build the relationship with the customer.

Relationship marketing gets translated and implemented through the marketing strategies, promotional programs as well as through marketing communication programs. When implemented as a part of marketing strategy, the relationship is normally focussed on leveraging the brands and products of the Company with the customer. Besides the marketing activities, the Companies implement internal and external corporate communications too keeping in view the Customers.

Marketing strategies are required to define the relationship marketing strategies for each of the product or service category taking into account the geographies, the customer profile as well as the overall RM objective of the Company. The RM strategy in case of a product company would be different from that of a service company and the element of communication design strategy would need to be different for a product from that of a service. In case of a product, the Customer is likely to respond in terms of brand, tangible and quantifiable performance of the product and the satisfaction derived from post sales service. In case of service, however, there is no tangible product and the customer’s expectations are different when it comes to service that is mainly concentrated around his perceptions and experience.

Therefore understanding the concept of Relationship marketing, the difference between RM and Customer Service as well as the ways and means of implementing or achieving RM objectives through effective marketing strategies is important for all the marketing managers and students who are going to be the drivers to defining, planning, detailing and implementing marketing strategies. An effective Marketing Manager should be able to effectively design marketing policies and strategies that are aligned with the Company’s RM objective and help build the relationship between the Company and Customer, Partners as well as the intermediaries who are critical to one’s business.

Organizations and Types of Relationships

Posted in Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Management with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by Consultant
Organizations today live in highly dynamic environments. Essentially the existence and growth of the business is dependent upon several external and internal factors such as highly segmented geographical markets, aggressive competition and shorter life cycle. These and many more factors exert a lot of pressure on the Organizations to innovate both in terms of its product offering as well as in its organizational development and ways of conducting business. Revenue and profits do form the primary basis of its business transactions. However in the long term growth perspective Organizations have got to be able to manage both external and internal relationships on the basis of the values and culture on which it is founded.

Share Holders

Gone are the days when share holders were a community content with the returns they received from the Company and went along with whatever the Managements thought good. Managements today are seen becoming increasingly answerable to the share holders.

Recently we have seen several cases where CEOs of the Companies having been voted out by the share holders for not falling in line with the thought process of the Organization and the share holders. We saw major changes in Hewlett Packard wherein the shareholders took the call to change the management and the strategic approach of the Company to business.

Organizations today exist in a situation which demands that they extend products and services as well as keep investing into building products and technology for tomorrow. If the business needs to exist and grow there is no option but to invest into the future. Therefore the shareholders take the centre stage when it comes to approval of and financing the Organisational business and growth plans. Shareholders today are aggressive demanding that the Organization walk the talk when it comes to the bottom line as well as in terms of its culture. Brands like IBM, HP and GE etc are more vulnerable to the stake holders as well as to the public as an Organization. These and other Corporate are using internet, Multimedia and websites to speak to the investors and extend the relationship with the share holders and investors. Internet platform allows the corporate open up relationship with the share holder community on an interactive basis thus giving the Company the control on how to manage the relationship as well as build investor confidence.

For Companies that are looking for investments to fuel their growth engines, there exists a need to demonstrate and cultivate the right corporate image and capability besides the past performance figures which alone will not help attract investors. Companies are therefore engage in Public relations as well as corporate communications to reach out to the prospective investor public as well as institutions to build the right kind of corporate image. Image building and relationship building become the long term strategy of the corporate communications of the Organization.

Social Responsibility

In the recent times the social responsibility and attitude of the Companies towards their responsibilities is becoming more and more visible and public. NGOs and specific interest groups are taking the lead in keeping track of and benchmarking social responsibility performance of the Corporate thus making them accountable. The brand image of the Organization is definitely affected by the way it is managing its social responsibility with the community, investors as well as policy makers being active participants as watchdogs.

Organizations have had to engage with the communities by way of participative activities as well as using communication strategies and by maintaining and managing relationship to be able to get across the right perspective as well as the right information. The recent example of GAP having had to withdraw from sourcing clothing from Indian Companies and suppliers who engaged child labour in the production lines is an ideal example which showcased the power of the community and the stake holders forcing the Company to take immediate action and use its relationship to project the right image for itself. The recent oil spill of BP in the west coast is another ideal case for study of how BP manages the relationship with the Govt, with its share holders, with the affected communities as well as manage its social responsibility.

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.

Posted in B2B, Brand Managment, Consumer Behavior with tags , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Consultant

Team Motivation – Tips for Motivating Team

A group heading towards a common objective will perform best when it is motivated as a team. Team motivation is determined by how well the team members’ needs and requirements are met by the team.

Some tips for effective team motivation are as follows:

The team’s objective should well align and synchronize with the team members needs and requirements.
Give in written the team’s mission and ensure that all understand it (as mission is a foundation based on which the team performs).
For maintaining motivation, the team should be given challenges (which must be difficult but achievable) consistently.
Giving a team responsibility accompanied by authority can also be a good motivator for the team to perform.
The team should be provided with growth opportunities. The team’s motivation level is high when the team members feel that they are being promoted, their skills and competencies are being enhanced, and they are learning new things consistently.
Effective and true leaders can develop environment for the team to motivate itself. They provide spur for self- actualization behaviours of team members.
Devote quality/productive time to your team. Have an optimistic and good relation with your team members. This will make you more acquainted with them and you can get knowledge of how well they are performing their job. Welcome their views and ideas as they may be fruitful and it will also boost their morale.
Motivation is all about empowerment. The skills and competencies of the team members should be fully utilized. Empowering the team members makes them accountable for their own actions.
Provide feedback to the team consistently. Become their mentor. Give the team recognition for good and outstanding performance. Give the team a constructive and not negative feedback.
Discover and offset the factors which discourage team spirit such as too many conflicts, lethargy, team members’ escape from responsibilities, lack of job satisfaction, etc.

 

Posted in Brand Managment, Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Management with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Consultant

Planning Function of Management

Planning means looking ahead and chalking out future courses of action to be followed. It is a preparatory step. It is a systematic activity which determines when, how and who is going to perform a specific job. Planning is a detailed programme regarding future courses of action. It is rightly said “Well plan is half done”. Therefore planning takes into consideration available & prospective human and physical resources of the organization so as to get effective co-ordination, contribution & perfect adjustment. It is the basic management function which includes formulation of one or more detailed plans to achieve optimum balance of needs or demands with the available resources.

According to Urwick, “Planning is a mental predisposition to do things in orderly way, to think before acting and to act in the light of facts rather than guesses”. Planning is deciding best alternative among others to perform different managerial functions in order to achieve predetermined goals.

According to Koontz & O’Donell, “Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do and who is to do it. Planning bridges the gap between where we are to, where we want to go. It makes possible things to occur which would not otherwise occur”.

Steps in Planning Function

Planning function of management involves following steps:-


  1. Establishment of objectives
    1. Planning requires a systematic approach.
    2. Planning starts with the setting of goals and objectives to be achieved.
    3. Objectives provide a rationale for undertaking various activities as well as indicate direction of efforts.
    4. Moreover objectives focus the attention of managers on the end results to be achieved.
    5. As a matter of fact, objectives provide nucleus to the planning process. Therefore, objectives should be stated in a clear, precise and unambiguous language. Otherwise the activities undertaken are bound to be ineffective.
    6. As far as possible, objectives should be stated in quantitative terms. For example, Number of men working, wages given, units produced, etc. But such an objective cannot be stated in quantitative terms like performance of quality control manager, effectiveness of personnel manager.
    7. Such goals should be specified in qualitative terms.
    8. Hence objectives should be practical, acceptable, workable and achievable.
  2. Establishment of Planning Premises
  1. Planning premises are the assumptions about the lively shape of events in future.
  2. They serve as a basis of planning.
  3. Establishment of planning premises is concerned with determining where one tends to deviate from the actual plans and causes of such deviations.
  4. It is to find out what obstacles are there in the way of business during the course of operations.
  5. Establishment of planning premises is concerned to take such steps that avoids these obstacles to a great extent.
  6. Planning premises may be internal or external. Internal includes capital investment policy, management labour relations, philosophy of management, etc. Whereas external includes socio- economic, political and economical changes.
  7. Internal premises are controllable whereas external are non- controllable.
  • Choice of alternative course of action
    1. When forecast are available and premises are established, a number of alternative course of actions have to be considered.
    2. For this purpose, each and every alternative will be evaluated by weighing its pros and cons in the light of resources available and requirements of the organization.
    3. The merits, demerits as well as the consequences of each alternative must be examined before the choice is being made.
    4. After objective and scientific evaluation, the best alternative is chosen.
    5. The planners should take help of various quantitative techniques to judge the stability of an alternative.
  • Formulation of derivative plans
    1. Derivative plans are the sub plans or secondary plans which help in the achievement of main plan.
    2. Secondary plans will flow from the basic plan. These are meant to support and expediate the achievement of basic plans.
    3. These detail plans include policies, procedures, rules, programmes, budgets, schedules, etc. For example, if profit maximization is the main aim of the enterprise, derivative plans will include sales maximization, production maximization, and cost minimization.
    4. Derivative plans indicate time schedule and sequence of accomplishing various tasks.
  • Securing Co-operation
    1. After the plans have been determined, it is necessary rather advisable to take subordinates or those who have to implement these plans into confidence.
    2. The purposes behind taking them into confidence are :-
      1. Subordinates may feel motivated since they are involved in decision making process.
      2. The organization may be able to get valuable suggestions and improvement in formulation as well as implementation of plans.
      3. Also the employees will be more interested in the execution of these plans.
  • Follow up/Appraisal of plans
    1. After choosing a particular course of action, it is put into action.
    2. After the selected plan is implemented, it is important to appraise its effectiveness.
    3. This is done on the basis of feedback or information received from departments or persons concerned.
    4. This enables the management to correct deviations or modify the plan.
    5. This step establishes a link between planning and controlling function.
    6. The follow up must go side by side the implementation of plans so that in the light of observations made, future plans can be made more realistic.
  • Posted in eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by Consultant

    B2B Marketing: Why Generating Leads Isn’t Enough Anymore

    If you’re like most B2B marketers, you diligently plan and execute campaigns to drive new opportunities and, ultimately, increase revenue. But unless you’re ready to rethink marketing’s role, you may be throwing precious budget dollars out the window and missing opportunities to drive real customer value.

    Customer buying behavior is evolving, and demand management is evolving along with it. Today’s B2B marketers can’t focus only on generating leads and turning them over to Sales. They need a new process for creating effective, targeted programs that hit the right people at the right time via the appropriate channel.

    Here are four key steps to ensure your B2B marketing evolves to meet today’s challenges.

    1. Develop a lead-management process

    Marketing and Sales must work together to design a more integrated—and collaborative—process that addresses goals, metrics, and activities at crucial lead stages.

    That process includes…

    • Identifying key business drivers to optimize demand generation
    • Mapping out the customer lifecycle (from suspect to prospect, lead, and customer)
    • Building marketing programs for nurturing and qualification
    • Defining a Sales-ready lead
    • Determining how leads should be passed to Sales and tracked

    2. Master your customer data

    Organizations might have thousands, or even millions, of contacts from tradeshows, partner events, and old website leads. And data from social media monitoring and capture have added to the volume of data that organizations have to sift through. Developing marketing initiatives for an unwieldy database results in wasted budget and resources—and, more important, missed revenue opportunities.

    You need a data strategy to develop a comprehensive view of your customers and their interactions. That means starting with a clear understanding of what customer data you have today—from all available sources—and where there are gaps.

    The sources of information that feed the database are critical; just as critical, however, is how that information is collected, stored, and managed… because that’s what will help you make decisions about to whom you should market.

    Define your customer

    Who in your customer’s organization is the buyer of the services that your company sells? Who influences the sale? Who approves it? A multilevel view will help you target messaging and better arm your sales force with the information it needs.

    Cleanse and standardize your data

    In B2B marketing, obtaining prospect information, such as company, title, contact name, and email address, is paramount. Use reference libraries to standardize domestic and international mailing addresses. Implement email address formatting and domain validation to ensure higher deliverability.

    Match the data

    Data-matching is about creating links between records from various data sources to create a richer, more accurate customer profile. B2B matching is complex because of the variations in company naming conventions and sites that can span addresses. As a best-practice, you should continually refine and test your matching rules based on results.

    Generate insight

    Once you have the data, you’ll need to generate insight on the following.

    • Whom to target
    • What stage of the cycle your target is in
    • What products or services your target is interested in
    • How your target likes to be contacted or receive information
    • What the cadence of communication should be

    3. Become a content marketer

    These days, buyers are more likely to take the initiative. Long before they talk to a sales rep, buyers go online for product information, comparison-shopping, and peer recommendations via social media. If you’re going to engage with those potential customers, you must win their trust and build a relationship by providing objective, informative content.

    Once you’ve generated content, use it across different channels and touchpoints. Consider writing a case study, opinion, or best-practices piece, and then repurposing it for your website, blog, Twitter stream, and outbound email.

    Remember, this isn’t the time to sell! Instead, focus on answering the questions prospects may have early in their buying process, and position your company as the helpful expert. Offer independent research or third-party thought leadership that supports your solutions. And encourage a permission-based ongoing dialogue so that you can stay in touch (and stay top-of-mind) as the buyer gets closer to a decision.

    4. Embrace multiple channels and measurement

    Go beyond email marketing to ensure you are reaching your targets via their preferred channels. How do you determine the right marketing mix and cadence of communications? One word: test.

    The optimal mix of the best message, channel, and timing depends on your company and its customers. Start with a baseline, and work in easy A/B tests (challenger, champion). As the program matures, you can add multivariate tests—but keep it simple in the beginning.

    Set up a measurement plan before executing any marketing program.  Nothing is worse than realizing after the first campaign has gone out that measurement was left off the table and you now have to scramble to answer that ever-important question: So how’s the campaign doing?

    * * *

    Many marketers recognize that they face challenges in one or more areas outlined in this article. For example, you might have the vision and the organization for success, but legacy systems limit your ability to market effectively. Or, you have data, but no data strategy to determine what to keep, what you’re missing, what’s of value, and how to derive insight. Or maybe you want to be more customer-centric, but you organize around product lines or channels.

    By ensuring that your B2B marketing evolves, you can…

    • Identify gaps in customer information.
    • Decrease marketing expenditures and waste.
    • Improve the quality and deliverability of campaigns.
    • Invest in customer segments based on value.
    • Improve the return on marketing investment.

    Moreover, you will seem a more critical and vital partner—with Sales and the rest of the company—in generating top-line revenue growth while being accountable for the costs of generating that revenue. That perception will make it easier for you to justify additional investments in marketing and protect you from cutbacks in tough times.