Customers come first in marketing communications research

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The Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation, Peter Drucker, said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” This quotation puts the customer first in everything you do including marketing communications and marketing communications research.

We need to look at how our company or organisation communicates with customers. What are the messages that you are sending to customers overtly or covertly? What communication channels are you using to engage potential and existing customers? Do your communications have the purpose behind them to create a customer, in other words make a sale? The reason this question is so important is because without a sale you don’t have a customer.

If you look at the turbulent economic and business environment, we know that customers have changed dramatically in the past years. Today customers have all sorts of demands on them and with pressures on costs and savings as well as performance, they want to make the right decision for their business.

Let’s face it, potential customers receive many marketing communications from various companies, competing for their business. Potential customers want to deal with people they can trust and are reliable and consistent.

In years past, companies would communicate with customers through trade magazines, listings in various directories, marketing events and presentations at customers’ premises. What has changed?

While the Internet has brought about digital marketing communications, and some of it very well targeted to specific potential customers, the need for face-to-face communication has increased. Potential customers want to speak to real people. They want to be “educated” on new trends, new technologies, automation of processes, and ways that they can make money or save money.

They don’t want sales and marketing people to talk down to them or talk over their heads. They want courteous communication that respects them and their intelligence. Companies promise fast and efficient service but how many practice what they preach? Potential customers are sensitive to service while considering purchasing a product or service. They feel pressurised and manipulated when salespeople push the upsell and try to overload them.

Marketing communication research can help you identify what your customers want, which communication channels they prefer and what marketing communications are effective and ineffective. For marketing communications to be effective, research is required in these areas:

– Message content. What is your company communicating to customers and what do potential customers want?
– Marketing communication channels. Which marketing communication channels are you using and which ones are the most effective with your existing customers and potential customer base?
– Market research. What are the trends in your market? Is your market growing, declining or flat? Where are the opportunities?
– Value proposition. Your communications communicate the true value of what you are offering. Is there something that you are missing that would attract potential customers?
– New markets. Here we are talking about new potential uses for your product or service. Could your product or service cater for unmet needs?

Marketing Communications plays and important role in helping to make your marketing more effective. It also helps you maximise what you are spending on marketing and gives you an indication if you are under spending or overspending. Very few businesses have potential customers clamouring at their doors asking for their product or service. In a competitive, crowded marketplace, your company and its products and services need to stand out and help to create and keep customers.

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