Think like your customers

Part of keeping a business in front of competitors is to stay abreast of developments. We recently asked for some unbiased external advice in relation to marketing, in particular about what the “new” developments are. What we found was quite interesting, but I was also amazed at how common it was to forget to think like your customers.

A key to business success is to identify trends, and provide a product or service that meets that need in a customer friendly way. One of the surprising findings was how many of the marketing specialists we approached failed in what are fairly basic areas:

  • Not returning phone calls or replying to internet leads – yes, these are marketing businesses, but not replying at all or taking a week or longer doesn’t indicate they are on top of customer service or understand fast paced communication of the world today.
  • Useless business cards – most people file cards the same way: horizontally. Several marketing companies are “leading the way” (down the wrong path) with vertical cards, and with the company name only on the back, so card organisers will never have them visible. And what’s this tendency to use black and other formats so customers or indeed the sales person can’t write on them?
  • Cluttered communication – a lot of businesses, usually the ones who perceive themselves as major players, provide 8-10 page proposals. Full of glossy material and feel good statements, they mean very little to the majority of customers who are time poor, and were after a simple maximum 1 page reply that addressed their specific need.

Mind you, we were given a few “how could we have missed that” type moments too. The important thing is to act upon them when the obviously flaws and findings are made. And it never hurts to have an open mind, and approach ones’ business from a customers’ perspective.

This was rammed home in recent weeks when we started asking some customers about what they thought and knew about us. It became very clear that we have fallen into the trap of thinking that customers know our business and what we do as well as we know our business. For instance, customers who come to us for most of their machine needs, but not knowing that we do “the rest” of their needs. Some were buying their rock breakers from a competitor, despite Queensland Rock Breakers being perhaps the largest supplier in Qld. Others weren’t getting undercarriage from us because they weren’t aware we had a track bench or mobile pin press. And some didn’t know we have a wide variety of hydraulic cylinders to suit most recent model machines. Others thought we only did used parts and machinery, when our prime focus is on good quality new replacement parts that gives market leading value for money and low hour machinery that greatly reduces capital outlay compared to new machines, both of which reduces whole-of-life costs to our customers. Notice the emphasis on good quality as not all replacement parts are the same, and we’ve worked hard for over 20 years on building a reputation for developing and stocking the best products.

Marketing is tricky, particularly when the products and services we offer is broader than any other player in the market. We support all brands, and have a complete earth moving machinery and parts portfolio. Yet at the same time we have some of the best people and products to meet the needs of each category, making us specialists at the same time. Much like art, everyone will have their opinion on what is the most appealing presentation and what marketing works best. However sometimes, even when you have covered all five P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion and People, although some now add Process and Physical evidence to make 7) the message just doesn’t get through. The example I sometimes use internally is that on more than one occasion, we’ve had our sales people ask a regular customer to our site what they think of our complete range of buckets and attachments. Despite having parked their vehicle right next to 50 or so brand new buckets, when the reply is “I didn’t know you did buckets”, it highlights just how vital the most important thing in any company’s marketing mix is: making sure our sales people take an interest in our customers by asking the right sorts of questions. We can’t Assume, because it makes an Ass out of U and Me.

We live in a world flooded with so many messages, that it’s easy to be drowned out and forgotten about.  It’s not easy being a customer and staying on top of all the latest developments, but RD Williams tries to think like our customers so we can find the best solution to meet your needs, making it easy for you to have your needs fulfilled. And for the record, we can find a solution for you to almost anything in relation to your earth moving machinery needs.

We’re happy for your feedback at any time. If we don’t listen to and look after you, our customers, we wouldn’t have a business!

Sales Fails

Some sales efforts are cringe worthy enough to get a special mention:

A vacuum cleaner advertisement, with the catch line: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux!

A truck driver went into an upper end truck dealership. The sales person is busy practising his golf swing, imaginary ball and all, and says to the customer “used trucks are next door, buddy”. The driver turns around and leaves. What this “pro” didn’t realise was that the truck driver happened to be the longest serving truck driver in a major equipment company, who (being the most knowledgeable on trucks in the business) had been asked to decide which brand and model the company would go with in the future. He started with his first preference. Buy bye! (sic)

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson

General Manager

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