Monday, February 14, 2011

Attracting Clients in a New Marketing World

As we discussed in Direct Objective’s December blog about the Major Shifts of Business-to-Business (B2B) “New Marketing Evolution,” traditional marketing sales processes are becoming less effective. Many companies’ marketing strategies are based on the concept of a controlled sales environment, where actions are driven by a “number game.” Simply put: the more outgoing calls you can make = the more your message is pushed onto potential clients = more clients. In a new world where the Internet is so dominant, this equation is not necessarily true anymore.

The easiest way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing is to shift your fundamental focus; namely, from Push Marketing to Pull Marketing. Why spend enormous resources chasing down clients with constantly changing needs and ways of absorbing information, when you could entice customers to come to you? Not only does it reduce the cost of finding new clients, it also ensures the quality of clients you attract will be exponentially higher, since they’ve already recognized your company as a potential solution provider.

Your next step is to identify the right tools that can help you effectively make the transition from push to Pull Marketing. Some recent examples from our clients include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - One of our clients has been an industry leader for the past 15 years, but potential clients had difficulty finding them on search engines way down on Page 16. They are now located close to the top on the first page, and their Web visitor inquiries, along with their web-generated leads have grown significantly
  • Company Blogs & Social Media – In an age where we prefer to rely on friend reviews and not necessarily on slippery salespeople, an open relationship with clients through a blog or social media outlet can build trust. We assisted one of our clients with writing their blog, spreading positive information by social word of mouth, and engaging clients with their solution and as a result, saw their registration levels increase dramatically
  • Whitepapers – One company we worked with had an extremely intricate and innovative solution, but it was very difficult for them to explain it to their target market. We wrote a special whitepaper and distributed it to influential industry figures, and their company is now attracting the right clients who have an understanding of how the solution can work for them.

There are a number of other new techniques that can simplify the Pull Marketing strategy process, but it’s most effective to create a marketing strategy which successfully integrates several. Every Pull Marketing strategy should have a unique approach, but it is now clear that Pull Marketing is no longer just advisable; it’s a necessity in a rapidly changing marketing world. Talk to Direct Objective today to discuss your options for Pull Marketing strategies to get ahead of the marketing curve.



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Lufthansa’s Bad Customer Service Can Teach Us about Marketing

Recently, I had two friends stuck in Egypt as the country collapsed into chaos. As you probably have heard, the calls for a change in government grew violent, and as the situation became increasingly unstable, foreign governments began advising any of their citizens in Egypt to evacuate immediately. The incumbent government, in an attempt to quell the uprising, cut off prominent telecommunication systems, including the internet. Thus my friends inside Egypt asked me to arrange for their departure.

They were supposed to fly out of Egypt on Lufthansa Air, and so I called Lufthansa to arrange an immediate flight change. They already had two tickets for February 20th, so it should have been a fairly simple procedure to switch flights in such extreme circumstances.

I was surprised to find, however, that Lufthansa’s “good-will” policy regarding the Egyptian crisis only applied to people flying “between January 28th and February 15th.” Therefore, any ticket exchange would cost $250 in booking fees, and would only apply to flights a week later. If I wanted to buy a ticket that would leave the next day, the agent said without hesitation, I would be charged the maximum fare for a one-way ticket, and my friend’s original February 20th tickets would not be refunded. When I spoke to the supervisor about the seemingly arbitrary date of February 15th, he curtly replied “I am not God, sir. We have to set a date for the conflict to end.” He then refused to let me speak to his supervisor, and suggested I send a fax. After two days my friends are now safely in Montreal, but there are still some serious questions that need to be raised.

As a human being, my perception is now that Lufthansa is willing to risk its clients’ lives in order to make a few extra bucks. And as a marketer, I can tell you that this is not a good strategy. At the cost of little short-term money, they lost three customers (or more, if you’re reading this blog!). A company as big as Lufthansa should know that it’s ten times more difficult to find new clients than keeping existing ones. If Lufthansa is keen on remaining profitable in the long-term, a humanitarian evacuation crisis is the perfect way to create good publicity. Assist foreign governments and cut deals to fill their flights that are anyway partly empty. Instruct customer service representatives not to get off a phone call without resolving a situation. Pack each leaving flight to the brim, and send planeloads of happy stranded travellers back home to tell everybody what they feel about Lufthansa Air. But instead, Lufthansa’s “good-will “ included an expiration date.

So we’re left with a few morals to the story:

  1. The quick buck is good for pyramid-scheme operators, but businesses that want to develop and grow need to invest in and respect their clients and prospects for ensured long-term success
  2. Think out of the box, and find creative ways to turn potentially negative opportunities into positive results
  3. Customer service is part of your company image. Make sure to involve your marketing people when you set client policies.
  4. Finally, don’t fly to the danger zones of the world. And if you must, don’t do it with an airline that turns its back on its clients when they’re really in need.


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