Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2015/03/the-importance-of-telling-single-story NULL.html), March 30, 2015

Have you ever heard the Indian fable of the six blind men and the elephant? Each man felt a different part of the elephant and described the elephant based on what they felt. One man who touched its tail thought the elephant was like a rope, the one who touched its trunk thought the elephant was like a tree branch, the man who felt its leg thought it was similar to a pillar, etc. Although there was some truth to what each one said, what they described was incomplete because it couldn’t describe the entire elephant or accurately represent what the elephant could do. Anyone hearing each man’s description wouldn’t be able to get the full understanding of the elephant.

Sometimes companies fall into this same trap with multiple messages and varied value propositions. Different individuals may describe what is offered is a variety of ways, whether based on their experience or their perception of the value offered. While those descriptions may be accurate, the message about the benefits of working with the company and value offered by its products or services is likely to be incomplete or fail to convey the full benefit of what the company offers. Multiple messages and different value propositions also create inconsistent understanding in the marketplace and a weaker story for the company, leaving opportunities for competitors to make a stronger impression with a more complete story told consistently. Potential customers selecting a weaker offering from competitors is one sign that your message may not be strong enough or your story consistently told.

Test the story you share with the market by conducting an internal survey and comparing those messages for consistency – and to ensure the story aligns with what your company wants said. Ask each executive and member of the sales/marketing teams to describe the company’s brand promise, its unique value proposition and a summary of your elevator pitch. Compare what each person says to uncover whether everyone describes the company’s value proposition, brand promise and elevator pitch well and consistently.

Once you have a description of the company’s brand promise, its unique value proposition and a summary of your elevator pitch from multiple sources, ask yourself:

  1. Is everyone in my company consistently and effectively communicating our company’s unique value proposition to prospective clients and current customers?
  2. If we aren’t describing what we offer in the same way, how can I get everyone telling a single story?
  3. Are we clearly differentiating our products and services from our competitors so that potential buyers understand why they should choose us over competitors?

If you are sending multiple or different messages then you should bring everyone together and ensure the story you are sending to the market, customers and prospects is consistent and clearly conveys the advantages of working with you. If you are sending a complete and consistent message that highlights the benefits of working with your company and the value offered by your products and services compared to the competitors, then congratulate yourself! (If you would like an example of a tool you can use for this purpose, email me for a template that I used during a recent presentation to Excell at elizabethATaccelerate-marketingDOTcom.)

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Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2014/12/the-times-they-are-changin NULL.html), December 15, 2014

With apologies to Bob Dylan, the title of his song and album often comes to mind as I watch today’s dynamically shifting business landscape. You probably feel it too. The market is shifting, your competitors are making adjustments, customers’ needs change and your business continues to evolve. Nothing stays still for long.

One of the most challenging situations occurs when your business evolves so that your target customer isn’t the same as portions of your existing customer base. Your customers’ business needs may have shifted and you may no longer be the best match for one another. Other times a customer base is built opportunistically, and becomes a hodgepodge of different customers with different needs and wants, and these conflicting requests become a strain on company resources. Sometimes a low price competitor comes in and targets smaller customers who are more price (than value) driven and starts eroding your market share.

Here are some of the topics you might consider when you need to focus resources and clarify customer fit and changes to your ideal target customer:

Fit & Alignment

  • How profitable are your existing customers? Are certain segments more profitable for you or are there certain situations where the solutions you offer are a better fit?
  • Has your target customer changed or are your current customers’ needs changing so they want different products and services?
  • Is your customer base a better fit for your older products & services? Have newer products & services been more successful with different types of companies? How similar are these two groups?

Transitioning

  • What is the level of effort and cost it takes to service your current customer base? How far are you willing to go if a customer insists on a product or service to keep them but it isn’t one you want to offer broadly?
  • What is the process for proactively deciding if you want to continue to meet a customers’ product (and services) needs? If you don’t, how do you mitigate the risk of them leaving or creating dissatisfaction in the marketplace?
  • Do you want to “grandfather” existing customers so you continue to serve them while you focus on new or different customers and passively allow customer turnover?

Alternative Considerations

  • Will holding on to your existing customers help block any competitors? What, if any, extra work or services will you have to provide to keep them satisfied? What is the resource cost of providing these extra services?
  • Are there alternative products and services that can be offered to customers and others in their market segment if their needs have changed? Would a “lite” less expensive offering or a differently bundled offering keep them satisfied?
  • How different is your ideal customer from your current customers? Is the difference size, type or location? What are the similarities and can you leverage any portion of your current customer base to help you move into a new market?

Not every customer is profitable and although it can be hard saying goodbye to a long-time customer, sometimes needs and the price a customer is willing to pay are no longer a fit for your company. It helps to take a step back and make sure customer needs and wants, what they are willing to pay and what you want to offer are still in alignment. Every choice a company makes has a resource and opportunity cost that limits your business’ ability to pursue other choices so make sure you are saying “yes” to the right customers.

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Take Advantage of the Dog Days of Summer (& Beat Your Competitors in the Fall)

September 15, 2014

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2014/09/take-advantage-of-dog-days-of-summer NULL.html),  September 15, 2014 August is generally a quiet time for business; many people’s thoughts turn to vacation and it might seem that half the people you want to contact are either getting ready to go on vacation, or already on vacation (even if they […]

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Failure to Launch: 5 Reasons Product Launches Fizzle

June 16, 2014

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2014/03/the-one-critical-question-about NULL.html),  June 16, 2014 Are you one of the many companies that have recently released new or enhanced products or services or are preparing to launch new offerings later this year? Recently, I was talking to a company getting ready to release several new products […]

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The One Critical Question about Marketing Every CEO Should be Asking

March 10, 2014

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2014/03/the-one-critical-question-about NULL.html),  March 10, 2014 You were probably one of the millions who watched the recent Seahawks Super bowl victory and accompanying ads. What you may not have realized is that a 30-second spot at the 2014 Super bowl costs approximately $4 million, and that’s […]

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3 Marketing Myths that are Stifling your Company’s Growth

December 16, 2013

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2013/12/3-marketing-myths-that-are-stifling NULL.html),  December 16, 2013 When talking to CEOs I often find that there is confusion about marketing, which is often not the CEO’s core area of expertise.  Sometimes I hear statements that are misconceptions about marketing, so I thought I would highlight a few, leaving […]

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The Easiest Companies You’ll Ever Market (& Sell) to Are…

May 27, 2013

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2013/05/the-easiest-companies-youll-ever-market NULL.html),  May 27, 2013 The easiest companies you’ll ever market (& sell) to are…your customers of course! But yet that seems to always be the group that gets the least attention by marketing (and sales). Don’t make that mistake! Not too long ago I found […]

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Scorecards, Dashboards & KPIs – Oh My!

March 4, 2013

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2013/03/scorecards-dashboards-kpis-oh-my NULL.html),  March 4, 2013 In Q4 we were all thinking about setting budgets and planning for the coming year. Now that we are in the first quarter of the year, are you making sure that the money you are spending on marketing is as […]

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3 Tips for More Effectively Setting Marketing Budgets

November 5, 2012

 Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2012/08/why-listening-to-your-customers-isnt NULL.html),  November 5, 2012 One of my favorite quotes comes from Peter Drucker. Considered the father of business consulting, he made an insightful observation: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. […]

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Why Listening to Your Customers Isn’t Always a Good Idea

August 27, 2012

Repost of Accelerate Marketing’s  post on Excell Puget Sound (http://excellpugetsound NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2012/08/why-listening-to-your-customers-isnt NULL.html),  August 27, 2012 Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? You should always listen to your customers, right? Actually not always… Many companies have a group of customers that are informally contacted for feedback when considering development of new products or to validate changes to their marketing […]

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