Marketing Is More Than Just
You sell communications solutions. Your customers buy communications
solutions. Sounds like a simple relationship -- but it's not just the product
or service they're buying. Each time you interact with a customer, you're
selling and they're buying a relationship with you. They judge you based on your every
move -- that includes each and every employee
they deal with, and each action those employees take. They evaluate all
that you do outside of the materials generated by your smooth, creative marketing department.
The trade show booths, four-color pamphlets, and promotional toys bearing
your corporate logo are merely visual support of your verbal claims: Your
marketing must be more than your brochures.
Simply defined, marketing is the communication with prospective clients
in order to influence them about the benefits of dealing with your company
and buying your product. It is also communicating with your existing
clients to get them to buy more, to upgrade, or (at least) to maintain
your current relationship. This communication takes place through phone calls,
brochures, business cards, advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and
What Your Customers Want, And What They Don't
Of course, marketing is far more complex than that. Astute businesses recognize the
importance of building and increasing awareness of a company's image
through branding. We see corporate logos, public and investor relation
campaigns, elaborate trade show booths, and quality promotional items as ways
to sculpt the market's perception of a company. Yet, your marketing must be more than
just the stuff you give out at trade shows or on sales calls.
Practically speaking, customers are looking for
dependability and functionality when it comes to your products and
services. Emotionally, customers are seeking companies whose employees
exude professionalism, credibility, competence, and empathy. For years, various studies have shown that
prospective customers buy
based on their subjective emotions, and then create the rationalization for
their purchase decision from the objective features you present.
Consumers and businesses are seeking more than just a product. They want to
feel confident about that DSL
solution, that workforce management software, or that network interface card they've
chosen. How do you close the emotion-driven part of the sale?
Generally, customers are looking for a company that understands and
respects five basic tenets:
- Save Time. Save me time. Don't waste my time. Even better, "make" me time. Everything you do
-- from your communications, your product features, and your delivery and implementation
-- has to allow me greater productivity. Give me more freedom
with my time. Time is one of the most precious and highly-valued
resources in business, and in our personal lives. Customers will pay a
premium for time-savings.
- Communicate Clearly. You can't sell if you can't communicate.
You must speak in your customer's language. This means English, or any
other language. Notice I stress "natural," rather than the techno-speak
we love to use. Don't assume your prospects and customers are knowledgeable and sophisticated regarding
your technology and industry acronyms.
Yes, some customers are up to date on the jargon, but you must continually check that they comprehend
your pitch. No one can be an expert in everything: A
fax board manufacturer may not be aware of the intricacies of coding for call accounting software.
- Take Responsibility. Whomever a customer deals with at your company
should be able to say, "Yes, I can help you." Your employees
should be able to take ownership of a problem or question, and track
down the answer within your company. They should then bring the answer
back to the customer. A customer should never hear, "I'm not sure. Let me pass
- Have An Attitude Of Gratitude. Your prospects and clients
want someone who cares, and caring is in short supply. Customer-denigrating jokes
among customer service representatives are
commonplace and more pervasive than ever (not that some customers
aren't deserving). There may even be truth in this humor. These jokes
may help dealing with the daily grind, but they ultimately lead to a
general feeling of disdain for
customers. Clients and prospects sense this quickly.
- Keep Your Word. This is not an easy thing for an individual
to do, and it's even harder for a company. How many times has a rep, or
even a personal friend, promised to call and failed? These small
instances eat away at your customer's trust in you, and their perception of the reliability
of your company. This point is perhaps the most important of all. It is a combination of
the four previous points. If I have to search to find, or even chase, you
to get help, then you're wasting my time, you're not communicating,
you're not taking responsibility, and you're not showing me an attitude of
So, whether your prospects are individual consumers, small businesses,
or large corporations, they are all looking for this combination of
characteristics. They constantly evaluate your sales and marketing processes,
your technical delivery, and your implementation and support, in addition to their
interactions with your company. When things go wrong with customers, it
inevitably leads back to one of the above tenets being forsaken, or at least taken for
You only confirm your prospects' and customers' confidence with those
four-color, high-quality marketing materials. You create and
sustain it by making the standards of saving time, clear communication,
responsibility, gratitude, and keeping your word your company's mission.
Martin Wales is the eFounder and Chief Catcher at Customer
He welcomes your e-mail at email@example.com.
He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused
on maximum results with minimal risk using your existing resources.