Marketing and end of crisis: a pretty good combination!
Towards the end of this crisis the marketing managers are under pressure to measure the results of their actions. Sensible investments in the exploitation of marketing data can offer them new opportunities. The crisis has been an occasion for general, financial and marketing directors to develop awareness about the key issues of customer data management: which data to collect, how to make these data accessible, how to treat them and analyse them, how to convert them into knowledge and finally how to make them work in a concrete and tangible marketing program. Therefore today the priority is the customer data in themselves, not the tool used to store them, as it has been until now for many years.
With the crisis some companies have withdrawn from the market waiting for better times. It is now crucial to boost their marketing activities.
The companies that will survive this economic storm will be those who will continue to operate with an active and appropriate marketing strategy. Today there are sophisticate tools able to carry on relational marketing programs; they can guarantee a totally measurable ROI and market gains even though the groups have reduced their investments.
The companies can be very different according to their size, economical sector or business model, but all of them have three points in common: the respect for their customers, their significant reactivity in the market and their absolute loyalty to their brands.
Respect for customers
The respect for the customer’s interests is claimed loud and clear by practically all companies, but those who really put this claim in practice are too rare. We have all been exposed to communication campaigns about big greedy 4x4 during the petrol price explosion, or received loan offers in the middle of the financial debate. In the best case scenario these marketing efforts are a waste of money. In the worst, they can end up loosing customers and opportunities.
It’s not about products in themselves: after all, the 4x4 might be a good choice for a numerous family or someone living in an area with bumpy roads. Everything, like getting a loan to improve your home insulation can make sense even during a crisis. The issue exists in terms of message and timing.
Let’s take the example of the luxury sector. It might seem difficult to promote luxury products immediately after a crisis – due to the decrease of purchasing power – but the purchase of luxury products can also be a positive way for people to rebound and convince themselves that hard times are over... So everything is up to the message and the way it is conveyed to the customers.
Another example: in the hotel industry, the reactivity of a program is the key to the relationship with the most important customers and their loyalty. Sharing customer details along with information acquisition strategies within the whole organization allows a better knowledge of the customers’ preferences before their stay; it allows welcoming them and calling them by their name and taking advantage of their previous feedbacks.
A range of particular benefits like a free breakfast or a fast speed internet connection linked to a loyalty program (accumulating points and miles to be redeemed for renting a room without date limitations) perfectly meet the members’ needs in this specific environment aimed to the useful and practical.
Agility in the market
The more the expense proposed to the customer is important, the harder the challenge will be in the current economical context. Companies must know which kind of customers they want, what they are willing to buy and when, and finally which messages and incentives will be more appropriate to attract them to their websites or magazines.
Historically, the gathering of such information represented a significant cost. But today an online, e-mail or even a direct marketing campaign (in the traditional meaning of the term) can be limited in duration, immediately tested and instantaneously refined in order to improve its ROI. In other words, the marketing managers can now prove that their strategies work.
Amongst these new marketing approaches, electronics for the mass market is one of the sectors with most potential. The large format flat screen or the upscale digital reflex camera that would sell like hot cakes during the easy credit period will now need a bigger effort to get from the shelf to the shopping trolley. Not to mention the ferocity of the competition. The successful companies will be those who will be able to gather positive and reliable data on their customers and opportunities as quickly as possible.
One of the big advertisers in this sector for example, tests the effectiveness of all the bimonthly campaigns and adapts them practically on a daily basis. It’s a permanent effort to maximize the value of your customer relationships by adapting your campaigns constantly.
The business does not focus too much on the macro economical environment (which cannot be easily changed) but draws on the permanence of its marketing data and compares its analysis to macro economical trends: for example, how do customers use the website before the Christmas period? How do they use price comparers to book their winter sports holidays? What are the interests of certain customers in specific geographical areas and how to encourage them to buy for Father’s Day?
For most advertisers the most effective scenario will combine a mix of real and intangible benefits that will vary according to the consumer’s place within the buying cycle. A loyal customer for example will appreciate a personalized token of appreciation, whereas an occasional customer will prefer a real discount on the price.
Customers want to rely on their favorite brands and want to know that they can trust them. The relationship with a brand can be particularly emotional. All the more on the Internet: when they buy on line they want to make sure that the service is delivered and that they won’t have any problems. Only a known brand can give them this guarantee.
A company of international services addressing both private and professional customers has spent years in improving its brand in order to keep the pace with a younger and “cool” competition. The crisis has caused a certain concern... to the point that analyzing marketing and sector’s data has shown an opportunity – in the marketing department – for capitalizing on the brand’s potential and developing its market shares.
Adaptable leasing, financial agreements, guarantees, on line security had always been its strength, and by now they have become its commercial strong points. The analysis of professional customers with no unpaid records, allowed the dedicated selling force to be more confident in its commercial relationship, as the local managers can bypass certain restrictions in order to reinforce their relationship with the most profitable customers.
The industry has seduced more responsible buyers among the private customers, without affecting its recent image previously focused on lifestyle, while as far as professionals are concerned its messages focused on reliability and flexibility allowed to gain market shares significantly.
Towards the end of this crisis the marketing managers are under pressure to measure the results of their actions. Sensible investments in the exploitation of marketing data can offer them new opportunities. The crisis has been an occasion for general, financial and marketing directors to develop awareness about the key problems of customer data management: which data to collect, how to make these data accessible, how to treat them and analyse them, how to convert them into knowledge and finally how to make them work in a concrete and tangible marketing program. Therefore today the priority is the customer data in themselves, not the tool used to store them, as it has been the case for many years.
The original article in French is accessible here on Journal du Net