Too often, owners and managers operate their businesses in silos that cause many opportunities to be overlooked. Accounting focuses only on accounting. Operations focuses only on operations. Marketing focuses only on traditional sales and promotion. Safety and maintenance only focuses on safety and maintenance. I could go on and on.
High growth companies understand that each area of the business is a spoke on a wheel that works in tandem to truly keep opportunities flowing in and turning into profitable outcomes.
When all functions of your company are working in tandem, as they should be, then marketing also becomes a day in, day out initiative that continuously considers ways to leverage what is occurring in operations to better serve customers, identify trends or pre-qualify and more effectively engage prospects.
To follow are five ways you may be able to leverage what is happening in operations in your marketing efforts:
1. Account Set Up: Do you have an official process to setting up a new customer into your system? This can include everything from confirming specific contact information to the completion of a credit application or a general terms agreement. While this appears to be an administrative and operational function, it is also a marketing function in officially establishing the new customer within your business, and confirming the relationship. If your company is a business-to-business (B2B) entity pursuing larger businesses, having a process such as this presents you as highly professional, organized, and detail-oriented. It also sends the message that you mean business and take their relationship seriously.
2. Credit References: A value-add to having a credit application completed by customers, specifically in a B2B situation, is that in many cases, the credit references provided could be potential customers as well. After your bookkeeper or accounting department vets the reference for credit worthiness of the customer that completed the application, when a reference could also be a prospect, the accounting contact from your company could confirm who would be best to contact for consideration of your products or services. Since this company is most likely to rave about the customer who submitted them as a reference, they are also going to be open to considering doing business with your company.
3. Purchase Tracking: If you are selling an array of products, how are you leveraging what is being purchased or not purchased as a marketing opportunity? If certain products are just sitting in inventory, how can you package them in a "trial offer" or "bundled value" approach to get customers to buy? By looking at purchasing trends with your individual customers, you should be able to anticipate and proactively remind them that it is time to re-order OR because of a particular purchase, another product or service would be an excellent addition to what they have already purchased.
4. Data Mining: How are you using information about your current customers to more effectively appeal to them and better qualify prospects? Are you segmenting them geographically, demographically AND psychographically? Are you generating reports that can glean insight to any decision-making cycles, industry cycles, or mentality shifts?
5. Training & Development: Are you considering a specific soft-skill, safety or demo training within your company with your own employees? If it is something that could be of value to your customers as well, why not open it up with a special invitation to allow key contacts to participate at no charge. This has been effective as a lunch-n-learn concept as well as a partial day program, and also demonstrates to your customers that you have a genuine interest in their business' success.
Each area of a business offers a goldmine that could be leveraged in marketing, once you take your blinders off and really see these opportunities for what they can be. Consider how you may be allowing tunnel vision in a particular area of your business to miss great opportunities for more effectively marketing. Take a step back and look at your processes and internal operations to brainstorm on how these could be a marketing or promotional initiative awaiting discovery.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.