In the spirit of the new year, I offer up the following resolutions to keep in mind for a successful 2010:
- Invest in today and tomorrow will take care of itself. Now is not the time to extinguish your advertising, promotion, research, and innovation budgets; now is the time to wisely use your budgets to better understand your consumers so your offering remains meaningful in the present and the future.
- Go-to-market together. As marketing budgets must be maximized in the new year, marketers should consider partnering with complementary brands (for example: Heinz ketchup and French’s mustard) to share in research costs, advertising dollars, in-store displays, etc. Knowing how your consumers shop (e.g. what else they buy and/or use with your brand) will help you identify appropriate brands to consider approaching for collaboration and coordination of your precious marketing budgets, calendars, and initiatives.
- Aim for customer monogamy, not just customer loyalty. Loyalty means that your customer is shopping in your store, your category, or your brand most of the time – and probably your competitors on a less frequent basis. If you truly want to maintain and grow your heavy user base, aim to deliver on all of their needs so your customer has no reason to be tempted to switch.
- Make customers feel good about shopping. Right now, shopping (except for everyday necessities) feels wrong, foolish, and indulgent when news headlines continue to communicate economic woes. Appeal to your customers’ emotions that they are doing the “right thing” with their savvy purchases.
- Understand that “value” means more than “cheap/low prices.” Consumers are savvier than ever and want the best value for the time, money, and effort they spend shopping and using the resulting goods. Reward their efforts by making it easy for them to shop your store, your category, and your brand.
- Walk in your customers’ shoes (or boots). You rely on research to ground yourself in the facts about your customers – the demographics, psychographics, purchase behavior, purchase interest, brand preference, etc. that lead you to the insights used for strategic decisions. However, you need to also look up from the numbers once in a while and look at the people behind the numbers. Observe how your customer lives – walk around their neighborhood, watch them deal with traffic headaches, note their mood when they walk into their office (vs. when they leave their office), shop in their stores, and eavesdrop on their in-store purchase decisions. Remember that your target more than likely lives a life that is different than your own and that he/she will make choices different than you will. Respect their footsteps and their path in life.
- Remember that shopping isn’t just an in-store or online activity. In some way, consumers never stop “shopping” – they are always recognizing new problems or dealing with recurring problems and looking for solutions. Sometimes, consumers are merely asking friends for quick advice; other times, they are going online or to a store to look for an actual solution. At its essence, a marketer’s role is to be a problem solver. Identify when your customers start to think about the problem that you solve and remember the rule of “rights” – right product, right placement, right message, right timing, and right price.
About The Author
AnnaMaria M Turano is an executive director of MCAworks. She leads client engagements involving corporate and product brand strategy, customer value proposition development and new product development. She is the co-author of Stopwatch Marketing. MCAworks is a management consulting firm based in Westport, CT, USA, which is dedicated to helping clients accelerate and sustain business growth via action-oriented sales and marketing strategies.
AnnaMaria M. Turano
Executive Director, MCAworks