While driving home recently, I decided to pick up some flowers for my wife. My first stop was the most obvious—the florist up the street. It was around 1:30 p.m. when I reached the door. The store was closed for the day.
Heading back into the car, I had to think of where I could find the closest florist. While driving past a frequently used strip mall, I was delighted to see that a new florist had moved in. I mentioned to the clerk how happy I was that the new store had opened. The clerk informed me that the store was three years old!!!!! We stop at the Eckerd two doors down weekly, we do our banking in the area, and use the Mobil station around the corner all the time.
How many times have you heard your customers tell you that they did not know you offered "that" service or product? In how many different situations have you missed out on a bid, or a current customer says to you that if they had only known, they would have purchased the item from your firm?
These results are not uncommon. As a matter of fact, they are more common than not. As managers, owners, marketers, CEO's we lose track of the impact of our efforts to inform the consumer of our services. Taking into consideration that the Internet, Yellow Pages, radio, television, billboard/outdoor, and catalog advertising are great mediums for marketing, they still do not always capture the customer's attention until the demand arises.
Try these few thought tactics:
1. Spend one day asking yourself why you would use your company's services over a competitor's? (You may find that you might actually prefer your competitor.)
2. Call as a customer, vendor, sales person, etc., and find out how easy is it to do business with your firm. Is your firm responsive? Do they capture add-on sales such as, "Do you need cables to go with the routers?" Does your staff educate to maintain a well informed client?
3. Interview a few new customers to find out how they learned about you, and why they decided to purchase from your company.
4. Do a survey of established customers to determine if they really know what you offer.
5. Look at statistical trends as to the geographic locale of your customer base. In one firm, I once realized that even though our advertising was county-wide and our quotes were county-wide, our customers were more segmented.
6. Visit purchasing agents to determine how they have you classified. You may not even be on the right lists.
These questions will help to evaluate if you are where you need to be when the customer is in need. Be prepared to find that you might be spending additional capital to capture new customers while there are many that already exist that don't even know what you do.