Donna Smith – Director of Marketing

Do Unto Your Customers, As You Would Have Done Unto You

One of the best things you can do as a Marketing or Sales person is to put yourself in the prospective buyer’s shoes. However, this is more than just speculating their purchasing habits and what would most quickly entice them buy; it’s also considering their frustrations & annoyances with all the sales/marketing tactics they’re currently bombarded with, and their numbness to all the free lunches, giveaways, and contests thrown at them in exchange for their invaluable time.

The best way to do this? Live like your potential customer for a good month by:

  • Reading AND responding to those spam emails where the sales guy sounds like he’s known you for years, and would love to schedule a “quick call” to “hear how he can help” you and your current needs.
  • Picking up the phone and talking to the cold-caller to see if answering her scripted questions will add any value to your job.
  • Signing up for those webinars, giving up all your contact information, and discover if any of those 1-hour timeslots really will teach you new strategies for accomplishing your current tasks.
  • Going to that lunch & learn, conference, and seminar, and talk to all the vendors, drop your business cards in their fishbowls, fill up on their pens and screen wipes, and see if it was worth losing a day at work to be there.

I’ve taken the challenge, and this has been most effective, and customer-empathic training I could walk through. I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do, and what I can do better:

  • I’ve discovered that time is my most valuable asset, and it takes a big trade-off to exchange it, and I am most irritated when I feel I’ve been misled into losing it.
  • I’ve found that no matter how fancy the restaurant and how good the food, some luncheons are not worth the weeks of follow-up calls… BUT… others are worth the information shared and networkingI’ve had the opportunity to do there.
  • And I found that tradeshows can be so chaotic, filled with mostly unwanted, cheap S.W.A.G., so the approach of pushy vendors vs. friendly vendors can mean all the difference in who’s booth I will likely visit.

As a result of this experiment, I’ve found the most productive thing to do, when developing our marketing strategies, is to take the Customers’ side over my Sales Team’s side. This means less mass emailing & calling, no sales pitches at conferences/webinars, and more information sharing & peer-to-peer networking opportunities. I often refer to myself as the “Vendor Police” when putting together marketing tactics, to openly pledge my allegiance to the customer at both internal meetings, and external events. Sometimes, this causes me to bump heads with our Sales Team, but ultimately I believe this strategy helps us to develop trust among the community, longer-lasting customer relationships, referrals, and repeat business… which I believe makes them happy in end as well.