On Creating a More Market-Driven Company

What does it mean, to become “more market-driven”?

More than a century ago, a department store retailer in Chicago named Marshall Field had it right when he uttered those memorable words, “The customer is always right.”

No, we don’t have to take his famous quote literally, but we do have to conduct business with our clients and/or customers as if we were walking in their shoes.

The list below can help you assess just how market-driven your company is.  Some of these activities might constitute business as usual in your firm, and that’s great.  Others might be novel but intriguing while a few might seem downright preposterous.  One thing is certain, however; all of them lead to consistent growth.

Internal Marketing Considerations

  • Encouraging everyone to “think out-of-the-box”
  • Empowering employees
  • Treating every customer service issue as “the exception to the rule”
  • Delegating more
  • Training everyone to realize their marketing worth to the company
  • Creating a Marketing Team with everyone on it
  • Placing greater emphasis on additional business from existing clients/customers
  • Rewarding salespeople for add-on sales and contract renewals as enticingly as for new business
  • Sourcing all inquiries/calls/leads
  • Planning advertising schedules in advance
  • Evaluating/modifying media advertising, direct mail, trade shows, website
  • Forgetting “All or Nothing” (AON)
  • Embracing “Something is Better than Nothing” (SIBTN)

Internal/External Marketing Considerations

  • Welcoming new business
  • Recruiting constantly: hiring the opportune candidate rather than recruiting at the opportune time
  • Returning phone calls
  • Delivering on promises
  • Knowing how and when to use voice mail
  • Following up on sales within 48 hours
  • Checking in with inactive clients/customers every two months
  • Addressing client contact changes
  • Discouraging “me, too” marketing
  • Insisting on graphic continuity in all promotional materials, ads, web pages

External Marketing Considerations

  • Introducing to new clients (in person or by phone) everyone on the client team from the outset
  • Retaining the “live” receptionist
  • Listening to customer suggestions (and responding even after determining proffered idea(s) might not be feasible)
  • Getting out and schmoozing
  • Networking (client, organizational, collegiate, vendor)
  • Marketing consistently (not limited to media advertising, direct mail, trade shows and website updating; sales follow-ups and client/customer check-ins-see Internal/External Considerations–count, too)
  • Positioning your company clearly in the marketplace
  • Courting and reinforcing referrals
  • Asking for testimonials
  • Meeting with staffers for 20-minute maximums with single-point agendas
  • Participating in seminars, audio conferences, teleconferences
  • Staying on top of the competition
  • Keeping ahead of the competition

External Marketing/Quantum Growth Considerations

  • Staying on top of industry trends
  • Keeping ahead of industry trends
  • Putting everyone’s antennae on the alert for new business opportunities
  • Delegating more
  • Empowering employees
  • Assigning reading material to everyone (daily newspaper business pages; corporate publications: Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal; fast-track publications: Bottom Line/Business, Fast Company, INC., Your Company; trade press)
  • Assigning internet surfing time to everyone after defining what to look for
  • Assigning viewing of CNN Business and Financial reports, Bloomberg, Wall Street Week, Financial News network(s)
  • Encouraging everyone to “think out-of-the-box” (innovative thinking)
  • Creating a total-employee Marketing Team (get everyone involved)
  • Placing greater emphasis on additional business from existing clients (partnerships in the making)
  • Following up on sales within 48 hours (market research opportunities)
  • Checking in with inactive clients/customers every two months (what’s happening in the marketplace?)
  • Addressing client contact changes (new people might be more visionary/creative)
  • Positioning your company clearly in the marketplace (people know who and where you are, what you do)
  • Getting out (increasing profile with business and community leaders)
  • Networking (with individual staffer organizational assignments and training)

This might seem like an incredibly long list, but look again.  These issues develop and nurture a more market-driven culture.  Many of them are already in place; the remaining points quickly become business-as usual.

Granted, the more challenging items near the end involve leaving the security of the office more frequently and paying more attention to the “outside” world, but that’s how one learns what’s going on.  Luck is preparation coming face-to-face with opportunity; it’s time to start preparing!

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