February 26

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Forget the customer value and forget any ROI

By Ralph Varcoe

February 26, 2019


One thing I have learned is that if you forget the customer value, you can kiss goodbye to your ROI. How does the following resonate with you?

The guys from product have just come up with a new feature release. They tell you it means that customers can see their data in seven new ways, and that they can do all of that through a self-service portal. The product guys are pleased with themselves because the self-service portal pushes a number of things onto the customer, meaning that they have less manual work to do. They go on to tell you about the 17 new features and how technically cool they are. ‘Wow’, you think, ‘these guys really know how to create some great features.’

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You leave with a list of things that the product does today that it didn’t do yesterday. Things you can tell your customers about. They are bound to think they are as cool as the product guy did, after all they buy technology all the time and can surely see just how great these are.

You spend thousands of dollars on a campaign to boost the awareness of the new features, and feel great because you’re meeting your objectives of having new stuff to talk about to customers, and will generate at least 20% of your annual MQL from this one campaign alone.

A couple of weeks later you have your head in your hands, and are in front of the CMO, trying to explain why your open rate was low, and the click through rate non-existent. Your ROI looks shot on this campaign, and your CMO is not happy. Not one bit.

As you crawl back to your desk, you try to work out what went wrong. The features were cool, but no-one seemed interested. You call your colleague and coach for their advice. After a few minutes listening silently, they ask you, “What does the customer need?”. You stop short and don’t have an answer. It’s then that you realise your mistake. Instead of focusing on the customer’s need and relating this back to your new features, you simply went ahead and pushed a load of meaningless things at them.

I see this scenario almost every day. Product, Marketing, and Sales not well aligned around the customer. And let’s be clear, the only reason you sell products or services is because a customer perceives that they address their requirements, be those opportunities or problems. Smart companies centre their product, proposition, and offering development around customer needs. Positioning then becomes easy. If you really understand your customer’s business, their needs, and market challenges, you can tailor your offering accordingly. If you then understand your purchaser’s persona, you can tailor your messaging to address their needs.

Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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