The most successful Marketing departments get the most from every Marketing dollar.

They’re focused on maximizing results — and tend to be set up around some key activities.  Here are the key components of their Marketing plans that help ensure their success . . .

1.  Use Data to Craft Relevant Communications

The smartest thing you can do is send relevant communications to customer and prospects.  It doesn’t take a lot of data elements to get started, just some basic information about your customers and prospects, all in one easily-accessible system.

Use your data to drive your communications. Rather than the same communication to everyone, customize your communications based on what you know about your customers and prospects. That allows you to send information on only the most appropriate products to each individual.

We used the brand purchased last to drive the next email offer for our golf client:

  • The very targeted offer generated 11% purchase response (more than 3x the response compared to when we sent everyone the same offer)

The results include:  better return on Marketing investment, better readership of each communication, stronger customer loyalty, fewer unsubscribes, and better prospect conversion.

2.  Send Customers and Prospects Useful Communications

Are you ignoring your customers?   Or do you send them emails that waste their time?

Communicate with your customers on a regular basis — by sending them some VALUABLE information.  Remind them of why they do business with you — and tell them something they didn’t know.

Communications could include:

  • New product or service enhancements (don’t assume your customers are checking your website regularly for new stuff — they aren’t)
  • Add-on products or services (based on their past purchases)
  • Reminders of how to get service after the sale
  • Summaries of all the benefits of the product or service purchased (don’t assume your customers are using all of your product’s features — or know all the products and services your company offers)
  • Success stories about how other companies are using your product or service

Remember:  most customers have no idea of all the products you offer, or all the benefits of the products they’ve already purchased.  Few, if any, customers have read every page on your website.

Canon sends an email newsletter to its printer customers.  The newsletter includes links to free software that can be downloaded to further enhance what your Canon printer can do.  Useful info, valuable links, and it makes me appreciate Canon more.

3.  Track the Results of Every Marketing Effort

Do you know how many new customers — and how much in dollar sales — were brought in by every Marketing effort (or every campaign)?

Use measures like Cost Per Order (CPO) or Cost Per New Customer Acquired (CPA) to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each media vehicle and each promotional campaign.

This will help you spend your Marketing dollars most effectively, by choosing only the most cost-effective media vehicles (or types of promotions) in the future.

  • The smartest Marketing departments can dazzle the CFO with their understanding of CPO as it relates to marketing budget — and the company’s sales goals.

4.  Test Everything

Don’t just run ads or post updates and hope they’ll bring in business.  eudora-test-envelope

Why not actually test one headline against another, one offer against another, a different description against another — to determine the most effective direction for each element of your marketing campaign?

  • The change of a single word can triple your response!
  • If you find the winning headline, offer, and description, that combination of successive improvements can be powerful. In our tests for Qualcomm, the winning combination generated 24 times the response of the original approach.

This is the secret for getting far greater return from your Marketing efforts — without increasing your budget.

5.  Know — and Publicize — the Answer to “Why Should I Buy From You?”

The most successful Marketing departments have the answer to this question plastered on their walls so everyone knows it!

Your answer to this question should be prominently displayed THROUGHOUT your website, and mentioned in every customer and prospect email.

The key is to prove why you’re different from the competition.  And that is the test of every web page, every email, and every other communication that is generated by Marketing:

  If it’s clear why someone should do business with your company, then the communication is doing its job.

See how this website places its 3 key points of differentiation on EVERY page just below the main menu:

sliderobes-2

6. Craft Well Thought-Out Marketing Procedures for Handling Prospects

Smart Marketing departments don’t set up other departments for failure — by not thinking through your procedures.

  • I called a hotel to ask about their catering services.  The front desk person asked me “Do you want Virginia or Sylvia?”   (Marketing is driving these phone calls and wants them to convert.  So Marketing needs to work with Guest Services to give the front desk some Training on how to more effectively route the calls.)
  • He then transferred me to the Catering department. The woman who answered gave me the third degree:  she wanted my name, company, address, phone, fax, email — and only then did she ask what date I was looking at.  Then, she concluded the hotel couldn’t accommodate me on that day.

Clearly, she had been told to gather contact information from every caller to build a database.  But I’m not sure this particular procedure was the best way to leave a positive impression on a potential customer.

7. Develop Ways to Serve More of Your Customer’s Needs

It’s much more cost-effective to market to customers rather than prospects. So why not find more products and services to sell to your existing customers?

Smart Marketing departments look at customer needs and consider logical product bundles — or cross-sell opportunities.

And through product development, product line expansion, and partnerships with other companies, you can secure a bigger piece of each customer’s business — and make your company more indispensable to every customer.

  • “We’re looking for a CRM system that will be tailored to our needs from day 1, and we want every user to be able to hit the ground running with the system.”   Why not offer customization services and user training?  Or offer a consultant’s services through your company, so you retain control of the customer relationship.

8.  See Everything from the Customer’s Point of View

Most companies know this is important, but does your Marketing department really know how to implement it?

Does your website, email message series, and every customer communication use more “you” and “your” — compared with “we”, “us”, “our”, your product name and company name?  Every customer communication should talk directly to your customers and focus on “what’s in it for me (the customer).”

Do you meet regularly with other departments to review company procedures from a customer point of view?

Anywhere you find you’re making the customer adhere to your company’s way of doing things is an area that needs change.

Do you use industry jargon that might be confusing to the customer?

  • I called a company to order something.  The customer service rep asked me, “Do you want one with feature A or feature B?” When I asked him what the difference was, he actually sighed — and then told me.  Why not lead with the simpler language — rather than the jargon? (and lose the ‘tude.)

9.  Know Your Customer Lifetime Value When Budgeting for Prospecting

Your prospecting budget should be based on how much you can afford to spend to acquire each customer — based on the value of the customer over his or her entire lifetime with your company.  For example:

  • If you know the average customer will spend about $1,000 with you each year
  • And they continue doing business with you for about 2.3 years
  • And your margin is 20%
  • That means each customer generates  $1,000 x 2.3 years = $2,300 in revenue @ 20% margin = $460 gross profit

If your prospecting efforts are creating new customers at less than $460 each, doesn’t it make sense to do more prospecting, as long as the cost per new customer is less than the lifetime gross profit?

10.  Genuinely Value the Customer

Smart Marketing departments focus on doing the right thing for the customer.  That translates into:

  • Including enough information on the website to answer questions when they arise (like FAQs).  There’s no such thing as TOO MUCH COPY when your customer has a problem or when a prospect is gathering information about your product to present to the boss.
  • Having a way for customers to reach you, with a promise of a response within a certain period of time.  Be sure submissions on your website are handled promptly.
  • Creating webinars or videos to help customers learn how to use a feature — or that show customers some best practices or success stories
  • Sending email messages that illustrate step-by-step how to get maximum value from your product or service

With this attitude, the company becomes a trusted resource, and a business to which the customer is likely to refer others.  And Marketing can encourage this attitude throughout the company.

This can be as simple as the garden department worker at Home Depot mentioning that other customers have found a particular potting soil to work better than the one I might have just put in my cart.  I appreciate the recommendation and think better of Home Depot for it.

Have I missed anything you’ve found the most successful marketing departments do?