Why Marketers So Often Miss The Mark

Columnist Claudine Bianchi believes marketers need to step out of their comfort zone and take the time to listen and interact with customers.

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ss-miss-targetI’m off to exhibit at another trade show. I know this is typical within the job description of many a marketer’s day-to-day. Tasks like coordinating logistics, dealing with union guys, picking out carpet colors and wondering how anyone can charge $80 per day for a garbage basket are often the bane of our very existence.

But truth be told, I love trade shows. To me, trade shows are marketing incarnate. If done right, they provide marketers with boundless opportunities to meet with and talk to potential clients.

Yet many of us marketers actually shy away from the floor, avoid booth duty and suddenly become introverts at the most inopportune time. I know — I’ve done it myself!

The same goes for answering the sales line, taking a support call, or — gasp — doing a cold call. We are professionals at coming up with an excuse that will preclude our participation in these “non-marketing-related” tasks.

We use excuses to avoid talking to customers and prospects. “I have a blog to write!” “There’s a campaign that has to get out the door!” “Have you noticed that website traffic is going down? I must double down on my PPC and SEO efforts!”

Listen Up

And yet, that’s precisely what we should be doing — answering the phones, calling, prospecting, asking questions and listening — really listening.

And the people we should get to help us? Sales. Tech support. Customer service — the folks whose job it is to interact with customers all day long. Yet we don’t do this.

Marketers tend to worry a lot about “brand” but ignore the simple fact that the people in our company — all the people in our company — are ambassadors of our brand. They are the face of the brand — and we hope it is one that represents our message gracefully.

Yet in putting together plans and programs, we so often forget that these folks are on the front lines with our customers each and every day. They are the ones who don’t have to wait for a trade show to talk to live prospects — they are face-to-face with them all the time.

But besides avoiding the prospects at trade shows, we marketers are also guilty of avoiding these business colleagues who have more up-to-date, more real customer knowledge than we will ever get by just looking at the latest reports from Google Analytics or our marketing automation system.

When was the last time you talked to a sales rep? Have you met recently with any of the customer service reps in your organization?

Have you filled out a form on your website lately? Have you been to your website recently? Was it a happy experience or one that you want to continue to avoid?

It’s not easy — leaving our comfort zones, making time to talk and listen to folks. But it is critical. And even more so as marketing evolves toward becoming the epicenter of all things customer — from attracting their interest in our product to steering them toward a purchase to studying how they use and interact with our product.

Interact With Your Customers

We can no longer avoid the customer because so much more of marketing will be around the entire customer experience.

So after reading this article, I’d like you to do something — and it doesn’t involve talking to anyone.

It’s a quick exercise: Go check your voicemail greeting. Is it friendly? Helpful? Cold or standoffish? Does it represent the way you want to be perceived by the person making the call? Because in many cases that will be the first interaction people will have with you.

Now, dial your company’s main line. Did someone pick up the call? Was it an automated response? Did it give you a warm and fuzzy feeling or turn you off?

This will be the first live interaction many of your customers will have with your company — and in many cases, it isn’t live at all. Is it how you want your brand to be represented?

Listening and interacting with customers is the way we learn to be good marketers. Acting on what our customers want and need from us is what makes us great marketers.

By experiencing what they experience, we gain insight into what we are doing right — and wrong. From there, we can make changes where needed or pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

Now I’m running late to catch the plane. I’ll probably give a lot of demos and talk to a lot of people over the next few days and curse the person who invented the high-heeled shoe. But as the saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

So this time, even though it is five minutes before the show floor closes and I’m tired and a little punchy, if that one last person approaches me and wants to learn about my product — even though I know in my heart he will never buy my product — I will treat him as if he is the center of my universe.

Because for that very moment, he will be.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Claudine Bianchi
Claudine Bianchi is the Founder, CMO, and Chief Product Officer at Crescendo Content Marketing. She's a highly regarded, battle-tested senior executive with 20+ years of management experience in B2B technology marketing. She has built companies with aggregate exits totally over $600M and averaging 7x return for investors. Bianchi was previously CMO at Percussion Software and CMO of ViewDo Labs which was acquired by Percussion in 2014. At ViewDo Labs, she spearheaded marketing while defining a new market category—Enterprise Social Network analytics and governance. She also held the position of CMO of Axceler, a leader in Microsoft SharePoint governance and administration which was sold to Metalogix in August, 2013. Prior to Axceler, she was Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Avid, a $1B software company serving the media and entertainment industry. Prior to Avid, she was CMO at NaviSite, a cloud managed service provider, which was sold to Time Warner Cable in 2010. Bianchi has also held senior marketing roles at Forrester Research, eCopy (now part of Nuance), and MetaCarta (acquired by Nokia). Bianchi is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

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