5 marketing tips for putting customers first

During the holiday season, it is not unusual to find people in a better mood and more willing to help others by going above and beyond what they would normally do. To me, this is both one of the greatest aspects of this time of year, and one of the most depressing. It's depressing because I often wonder why people can't act this way all year long. However, because this is not likely for a number of reasons, I have another holiday wish for the business world: Bring back customer service. There are so many times during the year that I don't understand what companies are thinking when it comes to how they work with their clients and treat their customers.

One example of this involves my wife. She recently wrote a children's book and worked with a self-publishing company in order to make it available to everyone via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. As she was talking with various publishing companies, she read through their marketing material, talked with their sales folks, and finally agreed to work with a particular company. As she began, she was bounced from one person to another depending on what stage of the process she was at, and once she moved from stage one to stage two, the project manager for stage one seemed to no longer willing to return her emails or phone calls. This continued to happen at every stage of the process and got to a point where my wife began looking for other companies that would take better care of her through every stage.

According to dictionary.com, marketing is "the total activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the customer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing and selling."

In today's digital world, customers have so many choices available to them, which means that we, as marketing professionals, must not only ensure that our customer-focused messages are on target, but also work with our internal folks to make sure that we can deliver on them.

It is our job to bridge the gap across multiple departments to ensure what we are promising clients is actually being fulfilled by the rest of the company. Most marketers probably don't want to hear this, but it is true: If you aren't going to work hard to ensure that your internal organizations are providing the products and services that you are selling to the world, who will?

The problem is that too many marketers believe it is simply their responsibility to get people "in the door." However, in reality, it is your job to make sure that they come back after the purchase. It is your job to keep your customers engaged and make sure that they have a satisfying experience with your brand, your company, and your product. Here are five tips for creating campaigns that drive both customer satisfaction and results.

Here are five steps to creating mutually rewarding campaigns:

Set expectations up front for the customer

Think of how you would like to be treated as a customer and then try to exceed your expectations.

Over communicate

As a marketer, you have unique insight into the focus and frequency of your programs, so don't assume that consumers have that same level of understanding. As a result, you need to set expectations with both your customers and with everyone else involved with your campaign internally.

Get internal support

Make sure you have the backing of the entire organization when you create a new offer or campaign. It is extremely important to make sure that everyone within the company knows what is expected from each other to meet your customer's expectations.

Set realistic goals

It's important to have clear and obtainable goals for each program as well as each individual group involved. By assigning goals to each organization involved in your campaign, you are more likely to see positive results. Letting them know that they that they will be measured against predetermined metrics creates a sense of accountability.

Review results broadly

After the campaign is over, have a post-mortem meeting with everyone involved. Explain to those involved the wins and the losses for the program and what could be improved for next time. This will continue to give your teams a sense of togetherness as well as keep the focus on the customers.

As we go into the new year, remember to try and find ways to not only be a little extra nice to those you personally know, but find ways as a marketer to be extra nice to your customers. By showing them the holiday love all year round and making them feel special with every interaction they have with your organization, you won't have to worry about them being swayed by a competitor.

Good luck and good sending.

Spencer Kollas is director of delivery services for StrongMail.

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