When times are tough, owners and operators take a cost-cutting knife to Marketing. However, intuitive these actions might seem, it’s time to spend. Companies that continued to invest in sales, innovation and marketing during the past 18 years have a book-to-market value 25% greater than those that “battened down the hatches” (“The Importance of the Customer Experience in a Down Economy – International Thought Leader Report, First Edition,” Customer Futures, 2008).
When no one is buying, chasing new business not only demoralizes everyone, it’s a waste of time. Instead, divert new business development resources to customer retention and concentrate your efforts on meeting the needs of the customers you already have.
Perceptive marketing people look “closer to home” will find that they already own the single most effective asset needed to jump start sales. Buried in your customer list are those new business opportunities you need. Discovering and closing those opportunities, however, requires a new way of thinking.
Customers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to buying decisions. Customers do more to compel sales than marketers do. If you doubt that, consider the power of social media, word-of-mouth and referrals in these real world behaviors:
· 87% will stop doing business with a company after a negative experience–up from 80% in 2007 and 68% in 2006
· 84% of those who had suffered a negative experience would tell someone else–up from 74% in 2007 and 67% in 2006 (2008 Customer Experience Report, Harris Interactive)
Don’t throw in the towel just yet. This same report contained some good news for companies with outstanding service:
· 58% would pay more for a better experience – even now
· 58% credited outstanding service as the number one reason to recommend, outstripping low prices (44%) and product/service quality (43%)
Ask just three simple questions:
2. Will you buy from us again?
Use this free R&D to expand your footprint in existing markets, uncover new business opportunities and find ways to improve your products, services and communications.
When you make those improvements and communicate them back to the customer, not only will you let him know that he was heard, but you will make him part of your success!