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Reaching Customers More Effectively

Columnist: Connie Hill
March, 2007 Issue
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Connie Hill
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BizTips_ConnieHill.jpgMarketing

Businesses are finding it more difficult than ever to effectively market and sell to customers. The global availability of products has inundated customers with marketing messages that don’t relate to them. How can you develop profitable relationships in this cluttered environment? The answer lies in one-to-one marketing strategies.

One-to-one marketing lets you create a connection with your customers across multiple touch points. Whether it’s an in-store promotion, a direct mail piece, an email or a phone call, you need to let your customers know that you understand them and have the services and/or products they want based on information they’ve provided. Here are some tips to help you navigate this new era of marketing without breaking the bank.

Businesses are finding it more difficult than ever to effectively market and sell to customers. The global availability of products has inundated customers with marketing messages that don’t relate to them. How can you develop profitable relationships in this cluttered environment? The answer lies in one-to-one marketing strategies.

One-to-one marketing lets you create a connection with your customers across multiple touch points. Whether it’s an in-store promotion, a direct mail piece, an email or a phone call, you need to let your customers know that you understand them and have the services and/or products they want based on information they’ve provided. Here are some tips to help you navigate this new era of marketing without breaking the bank.

Establish a relationship. A credible relationship with your customers is the key to breaking through the clutter. You can gain credibility by understanding your customers’ buying behavior and their preferred communication channel: Do they want to be reached by direct mail, email or a phone call? What products or services did they recently purchase from you? What’s the closest location where they can find your products?

Localize information like maps and the closest store contact information to make shopping easier for your customers. Create materials that include a buyer’s name and send them information on products and services that complement what they’ve purchased in the past. The more you personalize and localize your marketing materials, the more effective you’ll be in creating an ongoing relationship with your customers.

Leverage your data to create relevancy. It doesn’t have to cost your business a fortune to use some of the latest marketing automation technology. By working with a marketing services provider, you can leverage their integrated technology and actually save money. Look for a partner who offers customer profiling, data management services, Web-based access to both printed and electronic marketing materials and the ability to personalize materials on a one-to-one basis. Start with a clean target list so you market to the right people.

Once you’ve established who you’re contacting, define how you will contact them and what types of marketing materials are most relevant to them. Many companies provide the ability to manage marketing materials online and allow sales reps or other channel partners to customize materials before they’re sent to a prospect or customer. This saves time and money for your marketing and sales organization, from design to distribution.

Make your marketing message consistent. This sounds easy enough, but if you have multiple channels, multiple stores carrying your materials or a disparate sales team selling your product, it can be hard to keep your sales and marketing messages consistent. My advice to marketers is: Integrate the entire process, from branding to printing; develop one message and make sure it’s consistent across all mediums; consider how all sales and marketing materials fit together and how they’re used in the sales process; and find a marketing services provider who offers an integrated suite of services and puts all sales tools in one place for easy management and access. The more consistent you are, the more consumers will take notice—and understand what you’re offering.

Solutions providers should be partners, not vendors. Seek providers who can become part of your process and will work with you to integrate all pieces of your external communication, from influencing design to streamlining the production processes. Look for a provider who’s experienced in your industry. Vertical experience should give them insight into your industry, which can greatly influence your marketing strategy. Check for references that match your particular industry. The more you put into this evaluation up front, the greater your return on investment will be.

Empower your sales team. Your sales team is on the front lines selling to vendors and customers. The more you arm them with relevant and professional materials, the more they’ll be able to sell. This is where a marketing service provider’s integrated technology offering is key. Web-enabled solutions can help your sales team be more efficient, get to market faster and save on expenditures. Let your sales team order materials online. Give them access to the latest brochures and mailers. Arm them well and they will sell.

Marketing takes time and effort. Whether you have a large marketing team or a single hero, you can always benefit from using the latest technology and techniques—without having to invest in software and services. I’ve been in this business for more than 23 years, and I’ve seen small and large companies alike streamline their budgets and create emotional connections with customers. One-to-one marketing is for every brand. You just have to know how to use it.

Connie Hill is founder and CEO of TFC (www.tfcinc.com), a marketing services company in Napa. You can reach her at chill@tfcinc.com.

 

 

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