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How CEOs can Sweeten their Marketing

As I have said many times??it’s about customers ! Today there is more information about customers than ever before, and more …

As I have said many times??it’s about customers ! 

Today there is more information about customers than ever before, and more being generated every minute. And, there are many ways to motivate them all the way from simply putting your logo or marketing message on m&m’s and packaging them in a variety of creative ways, to more effective loyalty programs, to really analyzing all the data you have and is now available on your customers. 

Twenty-five years ago a firms assets were in machinery and equipment, estimated to be about 85% with only 15% in intangible forms of knowledgeware. However, today according to the Brookings Institute that mix of tangible to intangible assets is exactly reversed.  

The marriage of the internet with mobile telephony now allows for a powerful one-to-one channel direct to your customers. Advances in information technology gives you the ability to use data on your customers transactions to motivate them in ways never before possible.  

A new technique with global implications is called “crowd sourcing” – asking internet users for ideas of what they want, or would like to see changed. What a fabulous source for new product development. Add to that blogs and social networks, and we have a universe of online focus groups – a marketers paradise.

Not only is the internet gathering this type of trend analysis, it is also allowing for the crunching of data from credit-card transactions and customer loyalty programs. This can range all the way from profiling customers based upon what they are buying to the relationship between cultural variables and snacking habits.

For example, this research capability has revealed that almost two thirds of women will select a soft drink with the purchase of their favorite magazine. And, almost half will read their magazine with yogurt or a dairy treat. 

What if, instead of getting a pack of coupons via snail mail for a variety of products you don’t buy, you were to electronically receive coupons for products very specific to your consumption patterns? The effectiveness of these laser-targeted promotions over the internet can be dramatic, as opposed to the haphazard direct mail campaigns of the past. 

Another form of analysis that information technology allows for today is assigning scores to products based upon price, quality, freshness and package size. This scoring system automatically segments customers for some retailers and contributes to fine tuning product availability to customer-types. 

Unilever, for example, through this analysis discovered that Hispanics in the Southwest and Texas desired their Lipton Orange Mango iced tea, but it was not available in certain local stores where they shopped. With this powerful information they immediately got the product into those stores.   

By collecting and organizing data that we generate electronically from our credit cards, cell phones and laptops, savvy marketers can create a mosaic of our behavior and develop a more granular segmentation of customer types than ever before. 

As I have said many times, successful marketers know their customers intimately. By studying their changing consumption patterns they can anticipate their desires, and by delighting them with solutions to their problems before they know they have them, they can entice them to spend more money on their products. 

However, you have to be able to capture this treasure trove of data and use it effectively, as it will unlock the door to the customers mind. It’s like unraveling a customers DNA. 

In reality, it is the most sensible way to predict what we will do next. And, we are constantly spewing forth data about ourselves that is being captured electronically all day long. This exploding world of data leads a smart marketer directly to our wallet or purse. 

So the question is – are you mining all the data you have or that is available to you, so that you can tailor your product or service offerings to the changing requirements of specific customer types, and target them more effectively via the internet? Wouldn’t you like to delight your customers with products and applications to make their lives better? 

If you are confused as to how to get started on a more intelligent approach to analyzing all the data available to you on customers, or where and how to get more information on their changing consumption patterns and requirements; let’s start a dialogue. 

You certainly can’t refute the fact that the internet and information technology has created a gigantic opportunity to explore customer behavior like never before. But, are you participating in it?

An entrepreneur himself, Bob has spent most of his career involved with starting, growing and selling businesses. Having held managerial positions with IBM, Pfizer and Exxon, he draws upon extensive organizational experience with large and small companies in advising CEOs of growing firms. He is available online to answer questions from Chief Executive readers, as well as offer workshops, tips, books to read and a monthly online column about common issues facing CEOs of growing firms. Bob has been featured in USA TODAY for his work with Inc 500 firms and is associated with NYU’s Stern Graduate School of business in their Center for Entrepreneurial Studies where he is a Venture Mentor, Marketing Strategist and Business Plan Reviewer.

He is the author of GUIDEBOOK TO PLANNING – A Common Sense Approach to Building Business Plans for Growing Firms, which has recently been reprinted. He is a past contributor to Chief Executive and one of his articles was featured in The Best of Chief Executive.  Email Bob at: rmdonnelly@chiefexecutive.net

About Robert M. Donnelly

Robert M. Donnelly
Robert M. Donnelly is CMO of Flo-Tite Valves & Controls, a U.S. based supplier of valves and components to the process control industry in North America. A coach, educator, and advisor to founders/CEOs of growing firms, he is a serial entrepreneur, having started, grown and sold several technology based businesses. Previously he held executive positions at IBM, Pfizer and Exxon.