Is Marketing Talking to Your Customers?

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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure

Market segmentation, ideal client profiles and client personas are necessary, but not an alternative to talking to customers.

On the comedy panel show “Mock the Week” there was a section that invited the panellists to come up with “phrases least likely to be heard from”…for example a Wimbledon tennis commentator…”40-37”!

Maybe they should try “phrases least likely to be heard from a marketing department developing a new solution”. I would step quickly to the microphone and say…”I’ve been out and talked to our customers about what they need”.

Harsh on those marketers who do get out there and talk to customers, but I have seen at first-hand how many B2B companies seem to think they can put solutions and services together for their customers with little or no input from them in the first place. Sometimes there is just a marked reluctance to speak to customers. “They won’t have time to talk to me” is an excuse I have heard a number of times. On other occasions a web based review of the vertical market trends and issues within the customer’s particular segment is deemed adequate for understanding the customers’ issues and proposing solutions for them.

The truth is, if you want to put your sales people in front of customers ready, willing and able to buy from you there are a number of things you need to do first.

You need to be able to segment your market. Segmentation is the way in which you divide the market into manageable chunks. It is built around organisations that value offerings the same way. Often this is by Industry, by size, by application area but not always. For data centre customers segmentation may be around IT workload types.

You need to be able to describe what your ideal client organisation looks like. The Ideal Client has the exact attributes which make your offering seem the most differentiated in the market. These attributes are the qualification criteria for sales to assess the likelihood of the customer to value your offering, and buy from you.

You need to be able to understand what drives the individuals who might buy from you. Within an organisation specific people will be interested in your solution – approvers, decision makers, recommenders, users. Persona profiles describe who these people are in terms of their roles, characteristics and attitudes. It is also important to understand personal motivation and behaviour to tailor messaging correctly and identify both barriers and accelerants within the organisation.

The point is, these valid and necessary steps in ensuring your sales teams are engaged with the right people at the right time with the right messages, don’t work well unless they are based on real customer input. When you are asked if you are sure your marketing program is going to be effective, you really don’t want to answer “I guess so”, unless you want to be the main topic on Mock The Week!

This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.