90% of marketing happens AFTER your customer contacts you, however most businesses spend the vast majority of their marketing budget on awareness initiatives. How could this be? It comes down to the fact that the most easily measurable statistics for marketers are awareness indicators (e.g. click-throughs, page views, phone calls, Facebook “Likes”, etc.). Businesses would do themselves a big favor if they devoted more of their marketing efforts to customer engagement and measured revenue and repeat business.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (Social Media & The New Rules of Branding, Dec. 2010) suggests that businesses stop viewing the consumer buying process through the funnel metaphor (“consumers start at the wide end of the funnel with many brands in mind and narrow them down to a final choice”). The author of the article, David C. Edelman, explains a new process called the “consumer decision journey,” and stresses the importance of the Evaluate & Advocate stages to develop brand strength and customer loyalty.
Focusing on customer engagement is critically important for all businesses, large & small. At a recent Economic Forum sponsored by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, a number of business leaders reported that customer traffic (i.e. number of people shopping) is trending upward year-over-year, but revenues continue to fall behind. Everyone feels as though they have to work harder for every dollar. Sound familiar? This should be a
GIANT RED FLAG
to businesses that a greater emphasis on customer engagement is needed in their marketing strategy. It’s about working smarter, not harder.
Customer engagement is a kind of buzz word that has been gaining popularity over the past two decades, but it is hardly a new concept. When you cut down to the heart of it, customer engagement is really just another term for relationship development. Sales people the world over credit relationship development as the key to successful selling.
Educating your employees on how to communicate effectively with your customers is the most direct way to promote your products and services. Furthermore, properly training your employees will reduce the number of sales opportunities lost by miscommunication and poor decision making (have you ever heard one of your employees tell a customer “no” without offering an alternative solution?).
If you want to increase revenue, profit, repeat business, and referrals, the best use of your marketing budget right now is in developing the sales skills of your workforce. Dialogue takes an innovative approach to sales coaching by concentrating on conversations as the primary tool for customer engagement. Contact Dialogue today to learn how developing your sales strategy can help your company be more profitable this season.