When I wrote my book, Customer Pillars, I did not start out with the idea of generating nine pillars or key laws of marketing. They just happened to show up that way. I set out to be comprehensive and thorough, but I did not have a set number in mind. In fact, nine is actually a less “marketable” number than five, six, or seven. But when I asked the question, nine pillars emerged.
After the fact, however, I looked back at the pillars and saw that three stuck out. In fact, I saw a “system within a system” emerge. But let me warn you, before I divulge them, I do not think these three pillars (or laws as I have also referred to them), are more important than the other six. And, I will also say, that looking at these three pillars, without the others, is not as complete. (Looking at the whole list builds substance underneath all of them.) These three pillars did appear to group together and did appear to present a simplified marketing development system. Those three pillars are…
· Sharpen Your Competitive Edge
· Connect Powerfully with Customers
· Manage Expectations Brilliantly
Each powerful (and challenging) in their own right, but when combined, this 1-2-3 punch, is the perfect marketing trifecta. Let’s look at how they work together:
“Sharpen your competitive edge” suggests a company must understand the competitive environment where they operate. It recognizes that other firms, in fact, other talented firms, are vying for the same business, for the same customers you are. To win, you must be able to articulate (directly or indirectly), why the customer should choose you over all the other options. In a crowded marketplace, why should the customer choose you?
Once you know this, it becomes important to “connect powerfully with the market,” or the second pillar highlighted in this “mini” system. (In the full Customer Pillars program, this is actually the sixth pillar.) While developing messages to share with customers does extend beyond just the “competitive edge,” this should be an important part of the message you aim to share with customers. Simply, once you know why customers should choose you over other options, you need to tell your customers and prospective customers about it. This is the customer communications aspect.
If you know why you are advantageous to competition, AND you clearly explain it to your customers (to the extent that they really understand it!), they should be willing to give your business a try. When accomplished, these first two steps should get customers “in the door.” But the game is not completely won yet. Companies must “manage expectations brilliantly” to close the deal. In this third step of our mini system (the 7th pillar in the whole system), you make good on the promise.
When you communicate your competitive edge (steps 1 and 2), you make a promise to the customer. You essentially tell them why they should buy from you. To get them to try, you have to tell the customer your option is better than others; there’s a little bit of persuasion going on here! After they buy, they will see if what you delivered met or exceeded that commitment. And they will judge you. If what you deliver exceeds what you promised, customers will be satisfied with the transaction. They will likely want to buy from you again. If they’re really happy, they may even tell others about your firm. On the other hand, if you fail to make good on your promises, they will not be pleased, may not buy from you again, and may tell others you are not a good company to work with. (That’s called momentum! Make it work in your favor as opposed to against you!)
So that’s it. Do those three things really well, and by improving them, you have done a great deal to implement a winning marketing strategy. (Now remember, it doesn’t mean those other six pillars are not important!!!) But the following three pillars do make a great “mini” system: sharpen your competitive edge, connect powerfully with customers, and manage expectations brilliantly.
Three simple steps to excellence in marketing!
(OK, if you believe that, you are too gullible! Marketing is not ever easy, but this system is extremely simple to understand, and if you make progress on those 3 steps, your are definitely working on GREAT marketing concepts!!!!)Curt Clinkinbeard, is the Director of The FAMEE Foundation, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs “advance marketing excellence” and build profitable revenue streams. More information on their free small business marketing programs can be found at http://www.famee.org.