Is it possible to hit our growth targets every time? American sharpshooter Annie Oakley, also known as “Little Sure Shot,” would say it is. In fact, legend has it that the famous markswoman was known to consistently slice a playing card perfectly in half with a single bullet – and as a child, she was so reliably successful at game hunting, that she used her skills to pay her parents’ mortgage in full.
But, too often, I hear CEOs say that they don’t know if their marketing efforts are making an impact. Or that the sales team has missed its target. Why is this happening? In some cases, they’re spending their time and money trying to attract people and enterprises with no immediate or genuine interest in their product or service. In other cases, they’re trying to sell to prospects in a way that does not engage or compel the prospect to take action. Either way, they simply don’t understand the customer need. It’s like trying to hit a bullseye, with a dull arrow, while blindfolded!
How can you ensure your sales and marketing efforts are more targeted, like Annie Oakley – and less comparable to that of a blindfolded first-timer? Remember these three critical words: insight, integration, and impact. If you master those three things, your B2B enterprise can hit its targets again and again.
When I find businesses struggling in their markets, it’s almost always because they lack true insights about the customer base. To hit the right targets – and in turn, make sales – it’s imperative that your business takes the time to deeply understand the customers who will actually buy your product or service, so you can build an informed and relevant strategy to influence them.
There are many ways to do this. I often start by compiling profiles of a company’s existing buyers and prospects. The questions to be answered at this stage include:
- Who are they?
- Where are they located?
- How many of them exist?
- What are their products?
- What’s the real problem they’re trying to solve by using your product – and how would they solve it if you didn’t exist?
- How did they find your company?
- Why did they purchase your product or service?
- What is it about your product, service or delivery that matters most to them?
- How do they learn about your products and services?
- What else is important to them?
Once you have these profiles (or personas), according to Marketing Profs, you can use them to build a roadmap for how to expand your buyer base effectively. For instance, you can grow by finding other customers like them – or use your insights to develop complimentary offerings your customers need.
In essence, by creating these customer profiles, I’m defining my customer segments. I’m also defining which ones are most important to me – my target segments. It may be that those segments are larger, more profitable, or simply a better fit for your offering. Or, it may be that you have low penetration in these segments today and need to increase your share to meet your goals.
Whatever the reason, knowing which segments are most important will help you better allocate your resources to influence these target segments to take action. That becomes the basis for developing an effective targeted marketing strategy.
The Direct Marketing Association defines “Integrated Marketing “as the art of applying a consistent and unified user experience for your target audience to connect with.” Typically, companies think of that in terms of melding their promotional activities - advertising, public relations, direct marketing, social media, etc. - into a seamless, multi-channel scene, so that all messaging and communications are consistent across all channels.
For me, though, integration goes beyond communications and promotional activities. It’s about integrating your customer insights into every customer touchpoint. Does your offering actually deliver on your customers’ expectations and your brand promise? Can customers buy it in a way that’s easy and convenient for them? Do they have positive interactions with your team members? When there is an issue, is it resolved easily?
As a consumer, you’ve undoubtedly experienced issues where customer insights were not integrated throughout the customer experience. One symptom of this is when companies “say” the right thing, but fail to “deliver” on that promise. For instance, I once bought a car from a dealership that claimed to have amazing service. They gave me a tour of their lovely customer lounge and showed me great customer testimonials. Yet, my actual service experience (and that of everyone I knew who used them) was the complete opposite. They quickly lost my service business – and my next car purchase. They knew what I wanted, but simply didn’t deliver.
To make sure you’re integrating your great insights into the whole customer experience, I suggest identifying and perfecting the most important customer touchpoints, or “moments of truth.” What are the five to seven key moments that determine whether a customer is either delighted or turned away forever? Often, you need to look no further than customer reviews or your customer service team to identify the moments that need improvement. For instance, in my car dealer example above, social media reviewers absolutely slammed their service. I know that they understood service was a “moment of truth,” yet they did not perfect the service experience.
“The Growth Gears” book says that today’s marketing requires high precision and alignment – as well as your organization’s ability to pull it off. How can you execute on your insights – and integrate them across the customer’s experience – to make a profound impact on new and current clients alike?
For me, the first step to ensuring impact is focus. It’s tempting to try to spread our marketing efforts and dollars to reach as many people as possible. But, we’ve identified key target audiences and moments of truth. You should actually allocate most of your marketing resources (both people and budget) to those areas. After all, those are people and moments that truly make a difference in your sale.
The second step is measurement. Find a way to regularly assess whether you’re truly delivering the expectation at each moment of truth, and whether that’s truly driving growth. I like to start with a simple dashboard showing a measurement of each moment of truth. Wherever possible, I also like to tie that to financial indicators. So, for the automotive service example above, a few great indicators of whether their service was improving would be social media sentiment and the percentage of repeat service customers (which would directly link to ROI).
The B2B Sharpshooter
While the new, expansive world of marketing can make the finest B2B sharpshooters uncomfortable, hitting the right target audience – and growing your business – is certainly achievable. By paying close attention to the insights you gather about your customer base and redefining the way you target your base and potential audience alike, you’ll aim clearly -- and deliver exactly what your target audience wants.