This is the question I am facing in 2016. The way people receive information about our company varies quite a bit. Word-of-mouth for me is still the best way for new clients to find out about our service offerings. Everywhere I read, companies continue to spend more on social media, online ads, (Facebook, Google), email marketing systems, trade shows and traditional advertising on radio and trade magazines.
The rules on marketing keep changing and the culture is moving toward a pay-for-it system. It is becoming tougher to know and understand where the return on the investment in marketing is. Marketing costs continue to go up and I am really trying to take more time and determine if the costs really warrant a quality return. Too many times, I have been disappointed with the results of my marketing investments.
In 2016, I am making the shift toward investing more in client service offerings. I think there is a much higher return for the future. Here are some areas I am investing in.
Company Website – Currently, I am in the process of developing a new company site that will be much more customer driven. The user experience (ux) will be a much better experience. Users need to find information quickly, make decisions when it is convenient for them, independent of the technology they are on. Mobile technology is here: tablets, smartphones.
People – Need to continually invest money into the core people who are directly serving clients on a daily basis. A few years ago, I updated these people from client service representatives to account managers because they are managing the process of keeping our current accounts.
Renewed Focus on Serving Clients – Midwest Laboratories offers lab analysis which can be obtained at a number of competitors. The difference is the service we can provide with that analysis. I am looking at ways to put the focus more on the service to our clients versus just talking about the specific testing we do. In addition, I am looking for additional benefits for our clients that help support them with respect to analysis.
More Visibility – Online, I am focusing more on visibility. People like to do business with companies that are visible online and active in their communities and industries. Our company invests in outside sales representatives who visit clients on a regular basis and keep in touch with clients on a regular basis.
Take Control – Invest more time in this experience. There are relatively few books that really focus on this topic of moving more from a marketing perspective to a client service perspective. I am finding the need to roll up my sleeves and get into the details. I am trying things that work and other things that do not work. This is where the real learning is. It is an investment of time, but in the end there is a real return because I definitely know where I need to focus my time and energy.
Focus on servicing clients. Build systems internally that work for your people. Get buy-in and feedback from your own employees. Secondly, look at the client experience and continue to work toward creating a better experience for your clients. I am finding if I focus on these items, the marketing becomes a lot easier and ultimately takes care of itself. Apple is not on social media. Maybe there is a good reason!