How do I figure out how and where my customers and prospective customers want to buy from me?

How do I figure out how and where my customers and prospective customers want to buy from me?

The 1990s were marked by a back-office revolution in efficiency, systems, and re-engineering. As
we transition into the 21st century, the key revolution is the front-office interface with customers.
It is no longer a simple mix of brick-and-mortar integration, or even “bricks and clicks” integration.
Rather, with the advance in social media, mobile media, always-on communications, the Internet
of Things, and multi-channel markets, the new catchphrase is “omnichannel.” What do we know
about this world? Is it truly different than multi-channel? How might solving the “last mile”
problem change the game in traditional industries such as consumer packaged goods—and who is
going to do this? Amazon? Do the traditional theories and approaches work in such an
omnichannel world? What new capabilities do firms need to put in place to take advantage of this
world?
Principles of Marketing

How do I figure out how and where my customers and prospective customers want to buy from
me?

The fundamental problem is not the maximization of a particular channel, but the interfaces that
link between channels. Think of these as drop-offs and hand-offs between channels. Where do we
see the drop-off occur? Is there a standard pattern across industries?
What is the right mix of customer interfaces?
Keep in mind that many of the interfaces are no longer under the firm’s control (e.g., Yelp), so
how can we stay in front of these messages? Can we shape the debate?
How does this work across countries?
In many cases, the technology in developing countries, or the political infrastructure, is at odds
with integration into a world economy. How does the political, economic, and social context shape
the ability to integrate a global company?
How do I organize to coordinate across channels?
The fundamental problem in most cases is the way the company organizes, rewards, and manages
profit and loss groups. A particular activity may be in the best interest of the overall firm, but not
in the best interest of a particular business unit or group. How does the firm reward the unit that
appears to be losing out?
What are the implications for in-store sales personnel?
How enabled and accountable do they need to be in terms of awareness, knowledge, and access
across channels? Put simply, do in-store personnel need to be experts on mobile, websites, call
centers, and other touchpoints that the firm is using to reach out to customers?
How do I develop an omnichannel strategy for my brand?
Are there general rules of thumb, or is every firm different? What is best practice, what is worst
practice, and what is next practice? What are the implications of omnichannel for selecting channel
partners?
How is omnichannel changing B-to-B markets?
Are there unique challenges in the B-to-B world that we do not see in the B-to-C world?

 

SOLUTION

This is the classic problem with marketing. There are four classic methods here, in this order of preference – do your own customer research; find out from others that sell in the same markets as you (so: others who have already been through the first three steps); use your common sense; and gather input by asking your customers what they want, which will typically include some of 1) for them, 2) for you. The point about establishing a relationship with your customers is particularly relevant to larger companies that rely on periodic reorders and repeat business, rather than the far more common case of selling new products and services to previously unserved prospects.

The easiest way to figure out who your customers are and how to reach them is by using a simple grid. Take a look at the graphic on your left. Each box represents one of steps in acquiring new customers and

1) First, know what your buyer wants. For example, when people come to your grocery store, they’re only there because they needed or wanted something.

It may seem strange, but most traditional companies do not know how to answer these questions, or if they do know the answers, it took a long time for them to figure it out. This is because the marketing team usually acts independently from other teams in your company and only reports up to upper management. So you often see companies doing the same things year after year without much thought as to whether their strategies are working, why they are doing the things they are doing, or if there is any way of improving. Because a lot of people spend a lot of time and money on marketing, you’ll probably have someone in your organization who proudly says (or very sadly says): “We spend millions on marketing every year.”

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