Are You Struggling to Stand Out To Your Customer?

Do ever struggle to differentiate yourself from competitorsDo ever struggle to differentiate yourself from competitors?

My guess is that this is a constant struggle but one that is not addressed often by your marketing team. That’s because it’s not on their radar.

Perhaps it’s because they are too focused on the new product development processes you have in place and not listening to the critical input from customers.

When you listen to customers, you sometimes get an earful

When you listen to customers, you sometimes get an earfulThe commercial interiors business at Owens Corning struggled to differentiate itself from competitors. Sales were architecturally specified and product driven. The product was designed to absorb echoes in school gyms and classrooms.

In making calls with the sales team, customers emphasized that schools demanded a high level of performance. And also that many architects were becoming increasingly sensitive to being as green as possible in their designs.

Turning a black art into a differentiator

be differentAcoustics, however, was considered a bit of a black art.

Specialists were needed to figure out how much absorption a space needed. Surprisingly, we discovered that no one guaranteed the acoustical performance of their products, let alone have an independent third party determine their performance level.

This led us to successfully seek UL certification for all of our commercial interior products, a first for both the industry and UL.

Because Owens Corning was also the manufacturer of the base fiberglass boards the products were made from, we knew that those boards had a minimum of a 35% recycled content. This was enough to earn the product line a third-party certification (SCS), which would allow Owens Corning products to qualify for green projects.

Not all innovation is new product innovation

product_innovationWe combined these elements together with the standard 3-year warranty Owens Corning offered to create a program called Performance Marketing.

For the first time, our sales team had the ability to clearly position and differentiate our product line from the competition.

This  not only increased sales but also allowed us to create a significant trade PR program around our efforts to demystify acoustical performance.

Innovation can come from anywhere in the company. It can be product innovation, process innovation or, in this case, program innovation.

All of which will help you be more successful in launching impactful products and programs to grow sales and profits.

Good Selling!

4 Simple Steps to Better Customer Engagement

© elkor 2009Engaging 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

4Is Visual2

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:

  • Inspire
  • Investigate
  • Innovate
  • Integrate

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.

Inspire

Inspire

  • 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.

Investigate

InvestigateTo 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.

Innovate

Innovate

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.

Integrate

Integrate

  • 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.

Good Selling!

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