By Anne Evenson
Whether you run a restaurant, a nonprofit or a Fortune 500 company, it’s vital that you present a cohesive brand to your consumers.
“As marketing converges with customer service and sales, marketing today is more about helping and less about hyping.”
Joel Book, Retired Senior Director for Digital Marketing at Salesforce
Customers today expect a seamless experience with products and services that meet all their expectations. Every organization relies on marketing, sales and customer service to understand and address their customers’ needs and desires. These outward-facing components are necessary for every business to engage successfully with its consumers.
Marketing refers to all activities related to how a business promotes and sells its product or service to consumers. To successfully sell a product or service, you must understand the four essential marketing components, product, price, place and promotion, often referred to as the four Ps of marketing.
As a marketer, you must have a firm grasp of your product or service and how it suits your customers’ needs. Understand who your consumers are, what they care about and what they want. Your product or service price must cover your cost per unit, marketing expenses and distribution expenditures. You’ll also need to determine the price of competing products in the marketplace and whether your potential price point is a reasonable alternative for consumers. You must select the place where you distribute your product or service, like a brick-and-mortar storefront, or via your website, or both. When you think of product distribution, remember to factor in your target audience’s geographic location. Promotion is the marketing strategy used to create awareness around your product or service. Your promotional strategy and messaging should revolve around your value proposition, which is the value that your product or service promises to deliver. It should communicate to consumers what your brand stands for, how your product or service will benefit your customers, and why someone should choose your product or service over the competition.
Your marketing strategy will inform every marketing initiative related to your company’s products and services and includes various activities such as advertising, website design, sales promotions, sponsorships, product endorsements, public relations and direct marketing campaigns. Individual marketing campaigns vary depending on what stage of the product life cycle you’re in and involve organized, targeted efforts to promote specific goals like raising awareness of a new product or capturing customer feedback. Marketers employ various digital, print and multi-media marketing tactics, including emails, social media, blogs, videos, podcasts, newspaper and magazine advertising, brochures, postcards, press releases, radio, TV and more.
The right marketing strategy can propel your brand into the stratosphere. The TOMS shoe company pioneered the cause-related marketing strategy. With its “One for One” campaign, TOMS provided one pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes a customer purchased. TOMS focused almost all its marketing initiatives on this social mission. “One for One” wasn’t just a tagline; it was fully integrated into their business model and was communicated often on their website and most of their marketing materials. Consequently, when consumers think about TOMS, they associate the brand with the company’s positive contribution to a cause.
Sales and Customer Service
It’s second nature for today’s consumers to research products or services before committing to a purchase. Easy access to product information, including capabilities, price, options, availability and customer reviews, creates more informed and knowledgeable customers with higher expectations. Sales and customer service representatives spend more time working directly with customers than anyone else in your business. They should work together to ensure a positive customer experience.
Salespeople who invest in customer relationships from beginning to end while working closely with their customer service colleagues create loyal, happy customers. Not all interactions between salespeople and customers need to be transactional in nature. Customer service representatives can still solve customer problems and provide product or service guidance while salespeople nurture the existing touchpoint between your customer and your brand.
Marketing, sales and customer service teams who work together understand the context of their customer’s engagement in a fundamental way. Technology is the tool that ties these departments together and provides a seamless experience for customers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software will help you manage your organization’s interactions with your existing and potential customers across the entire customer life cycle, from marketing to sales and customer service. CRM’s allow all team members to record and share information about customer relationships and communications across channels. They enable individual users to collect lead and customer contact information, identify sales opportunities, document service issues and conduct marketing campaigns all in one central location. Customer service teams use CRM’s to monitor inquiry response times, social media and customer satisfaction. Sales teams use CRM’s to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) like sales quotas, product revenue and market penetration.
Using a CRM solution, Cochlear, the global market leader in hearing implants, set out to build and maintain a lifetime of relationships with people who have hearing loss. They offered people who were first researching hearing implants the opportunity to receive targeted advice and support based on their hearing needs. Cochlear connected a volunteer community of people with implants willing to share their experiences with those at the decision-making phase. They provided their consumers a range of channels to interact with Cochlear, like Live Chat for those who prefer typed to verbal contact. Sales representatives engaged with surgeons, audiologists and clinicians over the same centralized customer data allowing them to have conversations based on a complete comprehension of each customer’s specific circumstances. Cochlear recruited people with Cochlear implants and an audiology background, allowing them to better identify with their customers’ individual experiences. The coordination of information sharing between customers, company representatives and hearing care professionals through a CRM shifted conversations from transactional to strategic and offered a superior customer experience.
With numerous ways to slice and dice data, CRM’s help businesses streamline their processes and improve collaboration and productivity, ultimately increasing profitability. A good CRM can drive growth for companies of all sizes, but it can be especially beneficial to small businesses and government agencies, where teams must often find ways to do more with less.
Customers don’t care about organizational silos and efficiency measures. They care whether their needs and desires are heard and valued by the company. When you strategically and tactically align your marketing, sales and customer service departments, your organization will offer a consistent, meaningful consumer experience resulting in enhanced employee engagement, increased customer retention and higher profits.
Anne Evenson is a marketing specialist and copy editor working in Austin, Texas. She holds a BFA in Fibers and Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute.
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