Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

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The writer Rohit Bhargava posted an article on strategic marketing today on American Express's OPEN Forum for Small Business that I found deeply insightful. With the dizzying array of digital options, features, bells and whistles available to business owners to reach out to customers, it is often the most basic questions that deliver the best guidance for how to actually connect with customers. Here's his take:

"This will seem like the most basic advice ever, but take a piece of paper and make a list of the things that are most important to your customer at this particular moment. The simple reason this is essential to do before you create any sort of marketing or advertising is because you can test it against those things to see if it actually addresses them. That's the definition of being strategic: doing something that will result in your desired impact."

I love this.

In terms of product development, we are in a new era. It used to be that we would come up with what WE thought was a great idea for a product, launched it, and then crossed our fingers, hoping that the market would buy it. Nowadays, that would be a foolish way to launch, for it is easy to listen and learn exactly what the market is looking for before creating the product to meet that need.

Similarly, in terms of outreach, if you know exactly what is important to your customer and can test your products, services, and marketing against it, you give yourself a chance to hit the sweet spot. What's more, if you begin to segment your customer's needs (i.e. VIP Customers, Frequent Buyers, Seekers, etc), you open up an exciting new way to communicate and build business.

So let this simple methodology be part of your planning and evaluation process. Once you know the answers, THEN start figuring out how to use social media, offline techniques, and customer service to connect your customers to your solutions. Not the other way around.

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