Sam Decker (VP of Marketing and Products for Bazaarvoice) stopped by my office today. We had a chance to catch up on how his new company is doing these days. The answer is, it's doing great. They have picked up tons of new customers in 2006 and seem to be starting 2007 in the same direction.
Their focus on harnessing user generated content online to build brands and drive sales is a simple, yet very effective model. Don't believe me? Well I am sure you have heard of some of their clients: Macy's, Home Depot, Overstock.com, COMPUSA, Sears, Petco, Golfsmith, and CarMax...just to name a few.
So, I ask you, are you tapping into your customers to build your brand? If not, should you? The answer to the second question should only be no if you don't care about your sales. If you have products and you have customers, you should be finding a way to harness their input to build your brand.
Sam and I had early experiences with just this concept while building the Dell Forums within www.dellsupport.com. If you spend enough time listening to your customers you will find that they know your product and their tricks, advantages, fixes, and bugs better than 99% of the folks inside your own company.
Here are 9 great rules to operate a marketing department that is just getting started. Quite frankly, it would apply to a company that is just getting started too. This is part of a greater list that has been floating out there for a while now, but I have refined it a bit, and put it more into a marketing context.
Be Narrow:Focus on marketing the smallest possible problem you solve that is useful for your customer.Don’t say too many things.This makes your marketing material cluttered and turns you into a me-too.Positioning is much easier when you are focused.
Be Customer Centric:It is all about the user.Your marketing should clear and concise.Tell the user why they should care.Do NOT spew endless speeds and feeds.Remember, people don’t read, they scan.Ask yourself, if I had 30 seconds or less, then what would I say?Focus on the one or two of your BEST features from a buyer’s perspective.
Be Different:You are not the only player, so why do you sound like them?The specialized player will almost always beat the generalist early on.You can do this without being “cutting edge.” Google took the search engine and made it better.Can you do that with your product?“Better” is always better than “new and unproven.”
Be Picky: This must apply to everything you do: features, employees, partners, marketing opportunities and customers.Death by a thousand cuts is no way to go out.Go big or go home.What is your BIG feature?
Embrace Greed: You need to figure out how to make a profit FAST.While volume is good, volumes of losses are not.Making profit provides you with options and leverage.Losing money means you are just that – losing money.
Stay Tight:Spend like you are essentially broke – or close to it.Focus your spending on what matters.Pick proven vehicles that you can measure and manage.Live by the So What principle: ”Hey, we have loads of collateral and sales tools ready to go.So what?Do you have any customers to user them on?”
Stay Balanced: It is good to be laser focused in what you do.It is bad to have one vehicle or tactic be responsible for over 50% of your lead generation.Build out a narrow but balanced marketing portfolio and then optimize.Leverage demand generation tactics AND sales tools.It’s all about focus, simplicity, and scale.
Maintain Agility:Be willing and ready to course correct at a moments notice.Don’t get emotional.If it works, tweak it and throttle your activities.If it doesn’t – kill it….quickly.
Think Virally:When you don’t have money to build a national brand the traditional way, you have to create organic buzz.Find out where the influential prospects and customers are and target them relentlessly.Be broad yet strategic to generate sustainable inertia.
Did you know that 15% of customers that receive a catalog and visited the cataloger’s website made a purchase?(Source: USPS) Put another way, you can double the web traffic you create from your customers by sending them an effective catalog.....with your web address plastered all over it of course.
Did you know that customers who interact with companies over multiple channels are more loyal and profitable than single channel customers?(Source: Double Click).Put another way, did you know that you will get over three times as much value from a customer when you use all three channels (catalog, website, and retail store) versus just a catalog?