Showing posts with label customer value. Show all posts
Showing posts with label customer value. Show all posts

Aligning marketing investment and campaigns with customer segments

Following on from the previous post ‘How many customers do you have? Really.’ which discussed basic customer count and group segmentation; this post explores some ideas for analyzing the segmentation for more effectively aligning marketing investment and campaigns. This diagram depicts the previously discussed basic customer count segments:

Customer Segments

The fundamental customer objectives for any business are straightforward – acquire new customers, retain existing customers and grow revenues from existing customers. The challenge for marketing is how to effectively do this within budget and resource constraints.

Given this simplistic overall view, the next step is to categorize customers by value. One measure of customer value is how much revenue you have generated from a customer versus the total potential revenue for that customer. Let’s call this Realized Value – the percentage of the potential revenue already realized. We can now categorize customers by realized value:
  • Most Valuable – customers with 75%* or greater Realized Value. These are the customers you most want to retain and keep active.
  • Most Potential – customers with 25-75%* Realized Value. These are the customers you most want to grow, keep active and increase buying frequency.
  • Marginal – customers with less than 25%* Realized Value. Although these customers may have lots of Realized Value upside, it’s a more difficult group to develop.
  • Least Valuable – these are the customers from hell – the one’s that cause more problems, are never satisfied and cost more to manage than the revenue they produce. They could fall anywhere on Realized Value scale.
*suggested percentage – use appropriate measures relative to your business specifics.

These four categories should provide a good indication which marketing approaches would be most appropriate for each within the context of your business and market.

Now overlay these four Realized Value categories with the customer count segmentation discussed in the previous post and you’ll have an interesting matrix of customer insights to make objective marketing decisions:
Customer Segments vs Realized Value matrix

For each intersection in the above matrix you would define specific marketing objectives, engagements, campaigns and execution programs. That should provide targeted alignment to most effectively align your marketing investment to produce better results from your existing customer base.

The concept of Realized Value is related to Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) which was previously covered in several posts; How to determine Lifetime Customer Value, Strategic Insights from Calculating Lifetime Customer Value and Impact of Customer Retention on Lifetime Customer Value.

I have more ideas to share on the customer analysis topic in upcoming posts. How does this approach relate to what you’re currently doing? Do you think this approach could improve your marketing results? Do you use a Relative Value type of analysis? Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

How do you define Customer Value?

I’ve referred to customer value in several of my previous blog posts. The key point being that marketing should always clearly articulate the value of the product/service/solution within the customer’s context.

But what does ‘value’ within a customer context really mean and how do you define it? James Womack & Daniel Jones who popularized the Lean Enterprise business approach, define 6 attributes of customer value in their book ‘Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together’. Because these attributes of customer value are defined from the customer’s perspective, they can provide valuable insights for how we should position, message and market our products/services/solutions.

The 6 attributes of customer value defined by Womack & Jones along with my marketing perspective interpretations are:

  1. Solve my problem completely – define exactly what customer challenges or opportunities your product/service/solution addresses, the extent to which it does, how it does it and how it works with other solutions. Don’t leave the customer in doubt or searching for additional information.
  2. Don't waste my time – get to the point and don’t make the customer have to do things you want in order to get the information they want. Remember that their buying process takes precedence over your marketing or sales process – they’ll go somewhere else if you waste their time by making them jump through hoops to get information.
  3. Provide exactly what I want – your product/service/solution should have packaging flexibility according to how customers want to buy, not how you want to sell. Make it easy for customers to buy just what they want right now – they’ll be more inclined to buy more subsequently.
  4. Deliver value where I want it – clearly define at what point(s) in the customer’s business value stream your product/service/solution delivers value. Overly broad or vague claims of applicability and functionality don’t connect with specific customer requirements or how the customer envisions a solution that would benefit their business.
  5. Supply value when I want it – not all your prospective customers are ready buy at the same time and definitely not immediately. The important issue here is to gear your marketing programs to the various time frames your prospective customers have for buying and helping them reach that point.
  6. Reduce the number of decisions I must make to solve my problems – business customers buy something to solve a problem or pursue an opportunity. Offering too many choices, options and alternatives only makes things more complicated for customers to make a buying decision. Communicate with prospective buyers in their context and avoid unnecessary complications or decisions they need to make.
Remember that the interpretations for each attribute are just my views – think about how you would interpret these attributes to your circumstances.

“Value can only be defined by the ultimate customer’ – James Womack & Daniel Jones

Understanding and defining customer value is a key part of being outside-in as discussed in an earlier post. Considering these 6 attributes of customer value during our various marketing processes should help us connect more effectively with prospective buyers.

Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

You’re Selling What to Whom?

Here’s an interesting bit of low-cost research that could provide valuable insights into whether various people in your organization really understand your value proposition and market position. Ask two simple questions:

  • What are you selling?
  • Who are your buyers?
Start with the marketing and sales organizations. Ask the questions individually and record the answers verbatim. Doing this in person either face-to-face or on a phone call as an interview wherever you can provides additional insights to observe how people respond. A simple online survey can be used for people who can’t be reached personally. IMO, interviews are more effective than surveys for this type of research.

Besides providing the obvious measure of how well the market positioning, messaging and value propositions from marketing are understood, this little research project can yield interesting additional insights.

In response to “what are you selling?” IMO the only valid answers are those that describe what is being sold in the context of the value defined by customer. So, instead of the more typical answer of “I’m selling a world-class inventory management solution”, a customer value oriented answer might be “I’m providing our customers the means to increase their customer service levels by at least 10% without increasing their investment in inventory”.

"In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope."
– Charles Revson (founder of Revlon Cosmetics)

The “who are your buyers?” is intended to determine who in your organization really understands the qualification characteristics of the right prospective buyers. Good answers should include the multiple dimensions of industry, market segment, company demographics, psychographics and buyer profiles of the individuals involved in making the buying decisions.

Ask the CEO, COO, CFO and other functional areas these same questions – you might be surprised by some of the answers.

For the only answers that really matter, ask your customers what value they perceived they were buying with your product/service/solution. Ask them who was involved in the decision process and why they made this choice.

You should have a lot of interesting data points and insights to reconcile from this project. Marketing is responsible for ensuring that the company has the right positioning, messaging and customer value propositions, but more importantly that everyone in the organization is in agreement and understands how this applies to their role.

Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

Are you Inside-out or Outside-In?

Anyone who has worked with me has probably heard me refer to ‘outside-in’ versus ‘inside-out’ more times than they care to remember. While these are familiar terms and concepts to marketers, seems that many of us are easily captivated by all the wonderful new things our companies are doing with products, services and technology, causing our messaging to be inside-out. This appears to be more prevalent in B2B and particularly Information Technology companies.

Take an example of a Distribution Company that needs an operational system to expand their business for new opportunities in after-sales services. They make some inquiries, visit websites, receive emails, white papers, etc., but most of the information is about “platforms”, “services oriented architecture”, “next generation technology”, “software as a service”, product feature/functions, product brand names and other inside-out jargon, all of which are meaningless to them. The prospective buyer begins to question whether anyone actually has a solution to meet their business needs.

“Nobody cares about your products and services (except you)” – Pragmatic Marketing

Outside-in begins with customer value. The ‘customer’ is not just research, demographics and statistics about some market segment. It’s about the current problems, challenges and opportunities that real companies and people face in markets you plan to serve. What roles these people have in companies, what they worry about, what solutions they really need, how these businesses operate and many other factors.

Value is defined by the customer or prospective buyer – it’s not your list of perceived benefits, ROI and other claims. The value is expressed in terms of how your solution creates value for customers by meeting their real needs within their context.

With this deeper understanding of what, where, who and how to provide customer value, you’ll be ready to formulate an outside-in marketing strategy with value propositions that connect with the real needs of these customers. To make the outside-in value connection, messaging should start with value in customer terminology and context, along with specific messaging for the roles of key influencers and decision-makers.

A good consequence of the outside-in approach is that you will have more definitive market segments comprised of sets of companies based on their specific needs and the value you provide. Expanding on the Distribution Company example – you may find a common trend that industrial distributors are facing a slowdown in their traditional business, but some are seeing more demand for installation and maintenance services. If you can create value by providing a solution for them to quickly establish the necessary capabilities for a services business extension, then that would define a very specific target market segment.

Businesses are always looking for growth opportunities. Being market-driven and following an outside-in marketing approach are excellent strategies for driving growth.

There’s a lot more to the outside-in / inside-out discussion I’ll revisit in future blog posts. Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

Marketing in a ‘Market-driven’ company

This is the fifth post in the series about marketing considerations relative to company culture drivers. Being market-driven means that everything done by everyone in the company is driven by the needs of the target market(s) you serve. Easy to say, makes sense to most people, many agree with the proposition, but truly market-driven companies are in the minority, particularly in B2B.

The following are key characteristics of market-driven companies (in no particular order):

  1. Strategically selecting the market(s) and segments you serve
  2. Understanding the problems, challenges and opportunities prospective buyers in your market are dealing with
  3. Knowing the trends and future issues prospective buyers in your target market(s) will face in the next 1-3 years
  4. Listening to and understanding what your customers are telling you about what’s really going on in their business, not just what new feature/function enhancements they want
  5. Using reliable fact-based research data and industry/market analysis amongst several inputs for making strategic go-to-market decisions
  6. Making strategic decisions across all areas of the company for which market(s) you’re going to serve and the key value propositions your company drives to market
  7. Always using the ‘outside-in’ perspective
  8. Your solutions genuinely create value for your customers
  9. Focusing on where and how your company can excel in selected markets rather than just having a presence in many markets
  10. Developing a corporate mindset of being a trusted advisor for customers and prospects rather than just another vendor of stuff and/or services
  11. All functional areas in the company are aligned around the same go-to-market strategy
  12. Understanding and responding to the buyer’s process while sales retain control of moving the buyer to a decision
  13. Developing long-term customers who want to do business with your company
  14. Using a balanced scorecard approach to measure marketing performance across multiple dimensions
  15. Marketing is the strategic leader in the company and central to the success of the business
The above is not intended to be an exhaustive, scientifically researched list, but IMO represents the key attributes that I would look for to determine whether a company is market-driven.

Marketing has a significantly more strategic and pervasive role in a market-driven company. Performance expectations from marketing are higher and the risk of making wrong go-to-market decisions will derail the company.

“Business has only two functions--marketing and innovation.” – Peter Drucker

An article about the ROI of Being Market-Driven by Pragmatic Marketing cites various sources that market-driven companies are 31% more profitable, twice as fast in getting new products to market, and have 10-20% higher customer satisfaction levels. Seems that the benefits of being market-driven are tremendous, but my anecdotal view is that it may be the least frequent of the four company cultural models discussed in this series of blog posts, particularly in B2B companies.

Do you work in a market-driven company – how does it work in your company?
(use the comment link below to share your thoughts on this topic)
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.