If it sounds like a duck…..
We talk to our clients all the time about maximising their marketing investment – in fact that’s all we talk about. We tell them that marketing budgets are not bottomless pits and, to get the most from every marketing dollar, step  is to know your client. In fact, when we first meet our clients we ask who their clone-able client is and we ask to speak to them as part of the gap analysis process.
Clients have moved on from the idea that any customer with ‘a pulse and a credit card’ is a good customer. However, they are still not doing enough to understand who their best customers are and actively target their marketing money to attract them. Before you get into complex analysis and customer profiling, you could start with a simple list that you can create in a team meeting.
We just did this as a team – yes, we recently had to take a taste of our own medicine after a values mismatch with a client. From initial conversations they were perfect; but we could not shift them from tactics to strategy, and they had no desire to change. So we sat down, looked at our own client list and picked out those who are currently our best clients. We asked ourselves what behaviours they displayed that sit well with what we deliver, including how they are going to get the best experience and value from Marketing for CEOs.
Here are our top 10 behaviours:
1. Acknowledgement that their marketing could be working harder
2. Desire to develop a marketing strategy
3. Understanding their current marketing is mainly tactical in its nature
4. Desire to build marketing skills in their business from the top down
5. Developing confidence in their marketing decision-making skills
6. Willingness to learn and change marketing in their business
7. Having some kind of business plan
8. Having the time and patience to invest – not seeking instant gratification
9. Willingness to be challenged in their current thinking
10. Desire for profitable growth
The starting point is as simple as this – like everything, you need more detail, but this is a great place to start. You then need to decide how many of these criteria need to apply, because – let’s face it –no client is going to be completely perfect!
What does each of these really mean? Now to add the next layer of detail:
1. Acknowledgement that their marketing could be working harder – they have been investing in marketing for a while and they feel like there’s something missing. Alternatively, they haven’t invested at all and have some expectations.
2. Desire to develop a marketing strategy – they are fed up with reactive activities and want to have a long-term plan in their business. This means their marketing strategy is documented, distributed internally and is for the long term.
3. Understanding their marketing is mainly tactical – if a company’s marketing is about updating web pages and getting flyers produced, it’s tactical. Don’t get me wrong; you need tactics, but they result from a strategic plan.
4. Desire to build marketing skills in their business from the top down – we like to transfer skills. We want our clients to own, grow and direct their marketing. Our ‘45 questions every CEO needs to know the answer to,’ is a great start; we’ll even help recruit the right marketing people.
5. Developing confidence in their marketing decision-making skills – all too often we hear that business leaders find marketing a bit of a mystery. With our process and framework we help measure, demystify and give clarity to marketing decisions.
6. Willingness to learn and change marketing in their business – we’re ex-corporate marketing specialists that have held roles in global businesses; if a client doesn’t think we can teach them anything, then we’re not a good fit.
7. Having some kind of business plan – we just need to know that a company has an idea of where it’s going. This can be a multi-page document or just scribbled on a beer mat. It’s these business goals we need to develop a marketing.
8. Having the time and patience to invest – not seeking instant gratification – any strategy worth having takes time to embed and deliver. If a client needs immediate impact – that isn’t what we do. We deliver long-term, sustainable growth.
9. Willingness to be challenged in their current thinking – the best clients are happy to have robust conversations about how they are currently approaching their marketing. We debate and collaborate, resulting in a long-term outcome that improves marketing capability.
10. Desire profitable growth – marketing is only one of the growth functions available to businesses. Saying that, we also work with clients who are looking for funding, investment and sale – but it all hinges on delivering profitable growth.
So where do you go after this? The next step is customer profiling and, of course, you need to have a CRM strategy. However, getting some basic criteria outlined so you can start an internal conversation is good enough.
A lesson to ourselves: match every client against our own criteria. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s likely to be just that!