Engaging early and often will transform your customer meetings into relationships that are more strategic and more proactive.
One of the most powerful ways of engaging your key customers is to share with them your latest marketing concepts. Not only does this help to feed new ideas but it helps to build value-adding partnerships with your top-priority customers.
It also continues to prove how you are helping to build their business and not just your own.
Creating relevance by hearing what your customer wants
At the core of relevance is hearing what your customer is looking for and crossing that with the insights you’ve drawn from your broader knowledge of the category and their performance within a larger group of customers.
So how can you create relevance? By following this simple, four stage approach with each customer you have:
Each step is unique and is part of the entire process. And each step is at least one customer meeting. The middle steps may involve more than one meeting as you iterate and create together.
It all starts with inspiring your customer that you have a solution that will reach their goals faster
The Inspire stage is one of exploration and mutual goal-setting. Fundamentally, you are beginning to create a reputation for delivering results and providing leadership in driving their business goals.
- Share who you are
- Explain where you are going – this is critical to share a larger vision for the category and how you plan on driving it
- Learn where they are going so you can share your goals together
- Inspire your customer to partner
- Begin laying the foundation that you will deliver on your promises
Know your customer better than they know themselves
The Investigate step is where you begin seeking early customer feedback and alignment on your initiatives. In reality, you are recruiting your customer as a partner in development.
To create relevance, search for sources of insights:
Conduct User and Shopper research
Leverage Industry and Competitive knowledge
Perform a Marketing Audit
- Seek Customer feedback
Your goal is to show your customer that you are developing solutions that are aligned with their goals.
Innovation in everything you do
The Innovate stage is when you translate all the insights you’ve discovered and develop solutions that you can share with your key customer. In fact, the thinking may help all of your customers, but the most strategic are the ones who should get the end result first and with the best support your company can muster.
Translating insights into creative solutions:
- Product innovation
- Packaging innovation
- Merchandising innovation
- Supply chain innovation
Your goal with this stage is to prove that you are an innovator inside the category and are creatively working to grow your business with all of the tools at your disposal.
Making it happen: Transforming customer meetings into relationships that are more strategic and more proactive than ever before
The last step in the process is implementation. The implementation stage is easy to rush. You’ve been deliberate in this process so far. Now is not the time for shortcuts.
- Check in again – are the customer’s goals aligned with yours?
- Map it out
- Get your timing right
- Execute the plan
With this simple process of engaging early and often, you can transform your customer meetings into relationships that are more strategic and more proactive than ever before.
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