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Martin Wales

Customer Catcherâ„¢

BY MARTIN WALES


[January 2, 2001]

Time And Your Marketing

Time has become the most important commodity to your customers. How are you using your time? Are you taking advantage of time in your marketing programs?  Time is just as critical to you as it is to your customers when you're marketing your technology.

There are two ways to implement strategies around time: The first involves how you make use of your time; the second is taking advantage of your prospects' perception of their time usage.

Seconds From Success
Take a moment to ask yourself how you or your employees use time. How effective are you at time management? Are you always doing so much in the marketing "process" that you have little time for strategic planning? Follow these guidelines to bring time back under your control.

Reduce non-essential demands on your time
Identify ways that time is being wasted. Are you searching for opportunities, such as article placements, which could be handled by a public relations firm or part-time consultant? Look at all the activities you participate in and see which can be delegated to junior staff or outsourced. If you're on you own, list the priority activities. You may want to consider getting help with time management from a training company.

Have priorities and focus
Are you spending too much time with your ad agency? The design process for a simple display ad can steal hours and hours from you. Get your outsourced companies to know as much about your products and services as soon as possible. Then you don't have to be in on the design process -- you'll just be approving the results. This allows you more time to be calling prospects.

Value time and book it off for strategy, reflection, and evaluation
How often do you, your executive team, and other appropriate team members -- or even outside advisors -- get together to discuss and create strategic business development plans? Schedule time to do so, and stick to your agenda.

Build in the capability to handle busy-work and disqualification processes with automated process
I always say, "Use marketing to keep people away from you." That means use automated processes, like a Web site, to give introductory and repetitive information for new inquiries. Personally, I use GoldMine software. This saved me 95 percent of my prospecting time. Its automated Web processes allow me to accept free registrations for my e-zine online, and put prospects' data automatically into my database. This way, information is distributed to those who may never even buy my consulting services...but they haven't cost me any significant time or money either.

Say "no" to ineffective sales and marketing programs
Many companies continue to test their own marketing and sales techniques. They don't know if a particular program or ad works because no quantitative data is collected or the ad is not "keyed" (given a promotion-specific phone number or certificate number). Keep track of your programs, and eliminate the ones that don't work.

Limit  time entangled in office politics or socializing
This is Management 101 stuff and not really in the realm of technology marketing, but it does impact the effectiveness of your marketing department. I have heard that most marketing people like to talk and socialize...but of course, I couldn't tell you that myself.

Consciously experiment with time as a managerial practice
There are many versions of an expression that says, "A job takes the amount of time you give it." Well, give yourself or your team a little less time and a little more pressure to see if you can still pull it off. Better yet, offer rewards at the end of each project based on time-to-market, in addition to the results. You may be surprised at how much more can be accomplished in less time.

Be aware of your public relations (PR) schedule
If you want to be quoted in articles or have your products reviewed or mentioned, you need a plan and a PR schedule. Many print publications require two to three months of lead time, and some are even as long as 6 months. On the other hand, some Internet publications are created overnight and you must respond immediately when called.

Using Your Customers Perceptions of Time
Your customers are victims of time and are as concerned about its use as you are. They face similar challenges in meeting deadlines for product development, keeping a competitive advantage, and handling stakeholder concerns. If you can help them with their time issues, you'll become one of their prized partners in perceived value -- read, "they will pay a premium for your service."

There are several ways to influence prospects to call you or to meet customers' needs.

Shorten time-to-market
If you can position your product or service to assist your clients in meeting their product development issues, you are much more attractive as a supplier. Your customers constantly face marketplace issues like limited lifecycles for their products, especially software.

Let customers be "first in line"
You can charge more for "front of the line" service. For example, if you are an outsourced software development company and you have a client that needs their project started immediately, then you can charge a premium. You can simultaneously offer lower rates to customers who plan ahead, and are willing to take your flextime and a later product delivery date.

Limit the time you offer something
When you limit the period in which the prospect will benefit, they are more likely to call. It can be a straightforward promotion for cost savings. It can be access to a limited supply of a specific product. Another very effective method, especially in technology, is the use of complimentary information. White papers or sponsored third party research are a great way to get attention, and you can distribute it automatically and cost-effectively via the Internet.

Keep Internet content fresh
You must change and update information on your Web site on a regular basis. This gives clients and prospects a reason to keep returning. It also means they need to act sooner rather than later, as valuable information may disappear or an offer will end.

How you use time is crucial to the success of your marketing objectives. You need to be concerned with time management issues for marketing executions, and find  the appropriate timing for maximum results. More importantly, clearly understanding your customers' perceptions of time and their challenges means you can help them beat the clock. If you do that, you get both their attention and their business.

Martin Wales is the eFounder and Chief Catcher at Customer Catcher.com. He welcomes your e-mail at martin@customercatcher.com. He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused on maximum results with minimal risk using your existing resources.


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