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The Marketing Retrofit Company For Manufacturers

Creating Great Customers is a Choice 

“Most building materials companies are not in charge of their own destiny. Instead, they take what the market gives them. In an up market, they prosper. In a down market, they suffer. If they gain or lose a big box, they don’t see it as their fault or merit—the big box makes the decision for them. If they face an aggressive competitor, they frequently see the solution is to make a price cut. It’s all out of their control.” (Mark Mitchell @seethewhizard)

Are we or aren’t we in charge of our own destiny? This is a long-standing debate. One thing we can all agree on is the desire for a successful financial future—for ourselves and the companies we run. We all want to get more customers, sell more products and make more money. Once achieved, everything else will fall neatly into place—happy customers, increased sales, higher profits, larger investments, early retirement, endless golf and sailing around the world and fishing all day on your beautiful yacht. Fate for a king – CHECK!

Now, look closer. The “key to the castle” in this coveted scenario isn’t just more, but happy customers. Without them we’re sunk! This means less focus on getting more customers and more effort put into creating great customer relationships. And the secret to creating great customer relationships boils down to one thing–fate.

Hang on! Think fate is B.S.? Hear me out, then decide. The belief in fate generally falls into two camps: the “stuff that happens that’s beyond a person’s control” (happen-stance) and the “we decide our own fate” camp (choice). According to debate.org (yes, there really is such a site) 55% of us believe in fate. Where do you stand?

I do believe in fate. My definition of it, however, differs from the norm. A long-time colleague of mine, Cheryl Savala, has a different take on fate. She describes it as FOCUSED ATTENTION TIME and ENERGY. If this is true, our fate, or destiny, is not just a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. Creating instead of waiting. This speaks directly to creating great customer relationships instead of mindlessly talking about our products and then waiting for customers to come.

How much time do you spend (either directly or through your sales team) creating the F.A.T.E. of your customer relationships? Think beyond discounts and rebate programs and getting the word out about your products. Although common, they aren’t always reliable or sustainable. Steve Chandler describes creating relationships as “taking a lot of caring and helping each other…it takes imagination and courage and creativity.” When was the last time any of this was part of your marketing and sales strategy?

Take the lead from some industry mavericks and alter your F.A.T.E. with customers.

5 Ways to Alter your FATE and Create Great Customer Relationships

1 : Give Your Customers an Owners Group, like Festool 
Customers want to belong to something greater than themselves. Create a place where they can do just that, like Festool. The success of the FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP is driven by passion. Owners connect online and offline for the same reason: they are passionate about Festool. F.O.G. is a space for expressing that passion in a variety of ways: product feedback, project pictures, and wish list requests. From these interactions, Festool has an active, real-time supply of information to drive sales, new product development, existing product enhancements, and improvements in customer service at every level.

2 : Create Culture from the Inside Out, like R.W. Lyall
Happy customers buy from happy companies. What keeps employees at a company for the long haul? Companies that recognize their role in contributing to employee’s quality of life have realized that money is not a motivator for long term success. In his book: DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink discovered three things that influence workers more than money and contribute to their overall job satisfaction: autonomy, mastery and purpose. R.W. Lyall’s philosophy is to provide personal, professional and financial growth for customers, employees and suppliers alike. That’s culture from the inside out.

3 : Leave a Popcorn Trail, like Big Ass Fans
Be THE source for useful information about the products you make or sell and the stories around them. Survey your customers about a hot topic and share the results. Produce a video or slide show demonstrating how to use a new product in a creative way. Name and brand every “kernel” appropriately, so that all searches/links/SEO lead back to you. This can also aid in crafting better site content (aka: mapping it to the buying cycle). Dispense this information via your e-newsletter or blog or social media channels, then archive it on your website in an organized way that’s easy to navigate. Soon you’ll have a library of information your customers want and need—one they’ll return to again and again.

4 : Do or Say Something Talk-worthy, like National Gypsum
National Gypsum took a product that is largely invisible to the end user (drywall) and gave it life by making it visible and accessible. The Ask For Purple campaign is a call to action at every point in the sales cycle. Optimizing every element of an identity system creates a connection-rich experience for sales people, dealers and end users and gives them something to connect with and talk about.

5 : Make the Buying Experience Easier, like New Pig
Start with easy! New Pig makes it easy to buy from them with a responsive website that’s easy to find, easy to use and packed with helpful pointers for all stages of the buying cycle. Customers can download their handy ebook, live chat with a “pigger”,  order from their catalog (right on the home page), browse customer ratings on all products, get free expert advice, take advantage of speedy online account setup, stay connected through social media or their eNewsletter and returns are easy with their PIG promise no risk guarantee. What could be easier?!

Let’s face it, it’s going to take some calculated risks, bold moves and many more happy customer relationships if you want to retire early and set sail on that yacht. And, leaving your fate to chance is simply not an option. Take fate —FOCUSED ATTENTION TIME and ENERGY — into your own hands and, rather than just making the sale and getting more customers, create great customer relationships that feel effortless and unforgettable.

Ahoy, Mate! Make your presence felt.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

― William Jennings Bryan

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