Written by: Michelle Glennie, The Partner Marketing Group
The role of customers in marketing is extremely important for technology firms and should be the heart of your strategy. You already know that, but making it happen is more difficult than it sounds. So, what is the role of customers in marketing and how exactly do marketers gain a better understanding of customers – to develop a more effective, engaging marketing plan?
The narrative we hear today is that marketing and sales have blurred lines and need to work in lockstep with each other. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. While it is 100% true, the other group marketing should be working with—perhaps even before sales—is the consulting team. Think peanut butter and bananas or marshmallow fluff (or whatever other peanut butter sandwich favorite you may have). They work great together as well!
Why Marketers Need Consultants
Your consulting team understands the nuances and requirements of your customers and how their business operates better than anyone. They know what pains a customer started out with, how your organization solved it and, more importantly, why customers love you!
Consultants hold the key to long-term relationships with your customers.
Marketers need to capitalize on this relationship to capture references and referrals, build case studies and testimonials, and create your messaging around specific industries and/or pain points to hone your value proposition.
How Marketers Can Get Customers to Commit
A recent experience I had while working with a technology client, and a common issue, is the marketing team struggling to get customers to commit to scheduling time for a case study. We know, customers are busy! They care that their software implementation is going according to plan and they care that they can get their work done. They do not have a relationship with the marketing team or the with the marketing agency, and often don’t see the importance of making the time to help with case studies or references.
Leverage Your Consultant/Customer Relationships
Consultants do, however, have the tightest relationship with the customer. They are important allies for marketing. They can introduce marketing to the customer, and can often be instrumental in arranging time with each of their customers for case study interviews. The client I referred to who couldn’t get their customer to commit to a case study engaged their consultant for help. The consultant simply took the customer to dinner for participating in the case study. The customer may utilize the time to get some free tips or support—no harm in that, it’s all in the spirit of relationship building!
Meet Them Face-to-Face
Attending conferences is another great way for marketing to get to know customers in person. Consider not only having sales and consultants come to events, but make allowances for marketing personnel to be there as well. Conferences provide a rich source of competitive intelligence, customer insight (what they LOVE about your product/consultants/company) and even allow you to talk with customers directly who may not be altogether happy with your business.
Being able to talk face-to-face about issues, functionality gaps and the goals customers are trying to achieve fosters tremendous goodwill. It also helps marketing understand how products should be positioned and which customers would be willing to assist with marketing. Some of our clients even invite their customers to present in their booths, provide product giveaways or participate in videos for the booth or website.
Consultants and Marketers: The new peanut butter and jelly?
Back to the title of this blog – why should consultants be a marketer’s new best friend? Because they are your ticket to putting the role of your customer front and center in your marketing. If your customer is happy, and your solution is awesome, and your customer loves their consultant—why would you not enlist their help in building great content and more business?
We all know the consulting team is busy and billable hours should not be compromised. If the goal is to get more sales, they could very well be holding the key to you winning more business. Make it simple for consultants to pass the information along (for example—congrats on a successful implementation, team kudos, quick questions which you can add to your FAQ, case study requests, and so on) so marketing can continue that relationship. It could be as simple as asking your consultants to add your email address to a customer communication introducing you—it works for me every time and will probably work for you too.