Small.Business.Marketing

New marketing demystified for Indian SMEs

Archive for the tag “communication”

Who are you talking to, again?

And, what are you telling her?

So,  you know that even in the same enterprise, actual human beings involved in taking decisions may need to be communicated to differently.
Firstly, they have unequal information and priorities regarding you and your products that satisfy their needs. This means some among them may be at a stage of low awareness whereas some may be experienced users of your product for a long time. Some would have reached a stage of comparing solutions from different vendors whereas others may not even be convinced they have a problem/ need; as a result they may not even have started any active research.
Secondly, roles even within the same organization are constantly shifting.
Depending upon where they are and what their role in the purchase process is, communicate appropriately and differently so that customers hear only the most appropriate product benefits.
Sounds good in theory; only the very best of salesmen manage to do this consistently and well.
Multiply the problem by the number of companies that potentially you could be selling to. This now becomes a daunting task of reaching many messages across to many individuals across many companies. Internet makes it possible to not only target a broad audience; it also makes it possible for us to target really small segments of buyers across many companies very cost effectively with messaging that is personalized.

Some answers and some questions

Customers, especially in a B2B setting, spend precious little time searching for a product till they have a need. The implication is that even if you spend a lot of money and creative energy getting to be known, you are pretty much wasting your time if your message reaches a customer who is not in “active search” mode. This is why the most expensive marketing campaigns tend to be for new customer acquisition.

Contrast this to the situation where you have a specific group of customers who have purchased your product in the last 6 months and your objective is to ensure continued satisfaction. Will your communication be different? Of course. What do you think would be a few things you would like to tell your user base? Would that include a short introduction to your company? I hope not!

While the customer is in comparison mode, the opportunity is in trying to get into a close dialog and close communication. Anticipating the information needs at this stage and highlighting your advantages are key. What are some of the innovations you have seen in this space?

Different strokes for different folks

Why you must tailor your message to suit your audience

I talked about the fact that customers are in various stages of awareness/ interest regarding your product/ solution or company. Let’s try and understand that a little more closely.

All customers are created equal in the beginning. They do not know you exist far less know about the existence of your product or service to solve some need of theirs. So, what causes them to change?

At any given time in your audience, there is a mix of customers in varying stages of awareness of your products and service. What tack you choose to take in your messaging to this market depends on:

- What is your objective?

o Is it making sure as many potential prospects know about your products or your company?

o To ensure that you make the “shortlist” of those prima-facie able to solve a problem?

o To ensure that you are actively being compared with other products/ companies?

o Or, communicate a time-limited promotional message to ensure purchase?

o Or, are you now wanting to build loyalty with the customer (s) who have purchased your product once?

- Who is the specific customer you are talking to (Are you addressing the contact that has the biggest potential impact on the sale of your product? Sure?)? What does he want to hear? What do you want to tell him?

Why staying in touch is vital

Why small businesses need to communicate to their customers often

When you are a small business selling to other businesses, big or small what are your priorities?

Any business is run in two basic parts; one part is in charge of producing goods or services and the other part in engaged in selling and realizing revenue from those goods and services. However, you are not the only one in the market. As you (or your salesman) struggle to get attention from the different parts of the buyer organizations, you need to, in competition with the other players, establish your presence by increased awareness of yourself, your products- quality and prices and also build over time, a lasting relationship with as many buyers as possible.

Most organizations pay a lot of attention to the “make” process, especially when they are starting off. They pay some attention to the “sell” process but ignore the path from the “make” to “sell”. By this I mean that the whole process of talking to customers with a view to getting their feedback about the product, communicating the virtues of your product and the desirability of doing business with you as a company is ignored leaving the salesman with too much on his plate.


Islands of cons

A simple diagram of the steps in the marketing communication process

Remember, you can’t short-circuit the above process. A customer who is not aware of your product or solution or your company, will not suddenly put you in the shortlist of vendors she is considering purchasing from. You need to cross the hurdles of awareness generation (you exist) and interest generation (in your product’s ability to solve her problem) first. Knowing where your customer is in this process is the first step to advancing her down the process.

It goes without saying that the goals of communication will change from one step to the other and a smart marketer will align the maximum resources at his disposal to solving the most critical issues.

One of my favourite (good) examples of paying attention to the “intermediate” steps has been the old Eureka Forbes advertising. Anyone old enough to remember those? The ads not only positioned the benefits of the products (cleanliness and hygiene of your home) but most importantly, at a time when it was still a novelty, de-risked the sales model where the door to door salesman would actually enter your home to demonstrate the product. Eureka Forbes does not do those ads any more because today so many companies are engaged in direct marketing that it is no longer a perceived risk to let a company salesman in your home, but without doubt, the phenomenal success in market penetration of Eureka Forbes could not have been achieved just on the strength of their products and the aggressiveness of their salesmen. This was achieved because Eureka Frobes correctly assessed the overwhelming market sentiment and the challenge thereof and communicated correctly to bridge the right gap.

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