In this weak economy, marketers must modify their message to respond to customers' changing perspective. Here's how to begin.
Marketers can learn a lot about how to talk to their customers and prospects from the vice presidential debate. U.S. Senator Joe Biden, known for his public gaffs, and Governor Sarah Palen, who appeared less than knowledgeable in her widely viewed Katie Couric interviews, both went through extensive training to ensure they could respond to the questions posed while incorporating their candidate's campaign message. Both were very careful to tailor their messaging to the immediate context.
In light of the recent turmoil in the global financial markets, marketers must step back and assess all of their communications to ensure they are in sync with their customers' current situation. In this weak economy, marketers must modify their message to respond to customers' changing perspective.
Four Strategies at a Glance
In a weak economy, price becomes an even more important purchase determinant. But using exclusively price-oriented promotions (including free shipping and handling) is a slippery slope that can result in permanently reduced margins. By focusing on price, customers are trained to wait for the next sale. So sale- and price-related promotions should be used sparingly.
Marketers must change their communications to provide an open channel with their customers and prospects. This translates to creating a variety of ongoing messaging that moves beyond a sales promotion to build relationships and to continue to be read using a variety of means, including e-mailings, onsite content, blog postings, RSS feeds, and tweets. Remember, consumers may take longer between initial research and purchase, do more comparison shopping, and look for ways to reduce expenditures.
Consider the following four types of non-price-related communication to engage prospects and build relationships (you can always add some information related to a targeted product at the end of your message):
Metrics to Monitor
To assess the impact of this type of communications strategy, look at a variety of measures to track how your business as a whole is doing as well as the ability of your marketing communications to build relationships. Among the most important indicators are:
While many marketers are reassessing their budgets and trying to find areas to economize, ongoing customer communications are a critical and cost-efficient way to remain top of mind. These communications tend to be less expensive since you're talking to existing prospects, customers, and past purchasers. Further, creative marketers can adapt their offerings and content to fit a variety of formats to ensure they reach their consumers with a message that is in tune with their mood as well as their needs.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
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