Reaching Customers: Who and How

by Alan J. Zell

What's the best way to reach your market? Does it matter whether you sell to businesses or consumers? Here are one consultant's views.

There are many different ways or formats individuals, businesses, organizations can use promote themselves and their ideas, information, services, products (proactive) or where individual's, businesses', organizations' ideas, information, services, products will be seen by their customers (reactively).

There are many different ways or formats individuals, businesses, organizations can use promote themselves and their ideas, information, services, products (proactive) or where individual's, businesses', organizations' ideas, information, services, products will be seen by their customers (reactively).

Because individuals, businesses, organizations divide themselves into those who sell to consumers and those who sell to other businesses and organizations, I make two lists:

In Business-to-Consumer (B2C) selling one can reach customers or is seen by customers through:

  1. Mass media: print, broadcast, direct mail, telemarketing, fax, E-mail, Internet
     
  2. Display: location, building, signing, window/ counter/shelf display, environment, attire, printed materials, web sites
     
  3. One-on-one: in person, by letter, fax, e-mail, telephone
     
  4. Follow-up after the sale: in person, by letter, fax, E-mail, telephone
     
  5. Indirectly through someone else who made their opinion about who is doing the offering and what is being offered from the above sources or from another party.

In Business-to-Business (B2B)and intra-business selling cam reach customers or is seen by customers through:

  1. Past, current and potential Individual, business, organizations -- their management, representatives/agents, printed materials, web sites, displays, trade shows and organizations.
     
  2. In-house staff and management's ideas, wants, needs, and experiences, both positive and negative.
     
  3. The media: print, broadcast, direct mail, telemarketing, fax, E-mail, Internet.
     
  4. Other people who may have knowledge (real or imagined, true or false) about what is being offered.
     
  5. Customers' personal shopping experiences, both positive and negative


Each of these methods have a purpose. No one by itself will do the job so do not expect a method to do what it cannot possibly do. For example:

Mass Media is often thought to be a prime source for getting sales. By itself, Mass Media is not a good marketing medium. To get people to buy something new or change from one idea, information, service, product to another without it being on sale is, per idea, information, service, product from mass media presentations will be very low compared to the numbers reached and the costs involved.

Mass Media's main function is one being a facilitator sales by making those people potential customers may be talking to aware of the ideas, information, services, products under consideration. Then, when the customer goes to discuss it the customer will have less selling to do in order to justify or get approval of what they're contemplating buying or what they have bought.

Displays of ideas, information, services, products are those presentations between mass media and one-on-one selling. While the Rule of Selling applies to all selling, it is in display presentations not following the Rule will have disastrous results.

One-on-one can be more effective because the individual, business, organization can more easily tailor their presentation to meet the needs of the customer. While it may be more costly and time consuming the seller can easily change the presentation to meet the customers wants or needs.

Another way of looking at one's marketing mix is using two different categories:

Personal Presentations   Impersonal Presentations (Prospecting)
  • One-on-One – In person, Letter, E-mail, Fax, Telephone
  • Selling Environment
  • Attire/Grooming
  • Public Presentations, Civic Activities
  • Networking
  • Trade Shows
 
  • The Media –Print, Broadcast, Web Site, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, Fax & E-Mail, Public Relations Releases
  • Printed Materials of all kinds
  • Signage
  • Widow, Counter, Shelf Display
  • Broadcast Fax and E-Mail
  • Direct Mail
  • Sponsorships

Personal Presentations are used to sell to new customers, more to current users of a product/service, and prospects.

Impersonal Presentations are used to sell, primarily, to prospects or new customers It is very possible that some Impersonal Presentations will be use to sell to current users of products/services, that is not its primary function but an added value of these types of presentations.

I am often asked which is the best way to reach customers. It depends on whether these customers or current customers, researched leads or just prospects. First, there is no such thing as a "best" method or format. It takes a coordinated program chosen from the following options to get one's story across. It means using multiple types of presentations multiple times to do the job. In marketing jargon this is called a "marketing mix."

Not only is it necessary to have several different formats to one's Marketing Mix, it is necessary to see that they all show the same face. Only too often, as new formats for presenting one's information, are developed they take on a look that is different from what was currently being used. This means that either the new presentation will confuse customers because it is different or the current forms need to be changed to agree or look like the new format.

Consistency or the lack of same can have a great influence on whether or not a sale will be made or the time it takes to make a sale. Purchases are put off or not made because the impressions are not clear or questions are left unanswered.

Lastly, one needs to take into consideration that the further the distance between who is doing the selling and their customers, the more people one tries to reach, the more transfers of information the weaker the sales presentation or number of sales per exposure, and the greater the costs of getting the sale.

Copyright © 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Alan J. Zell, Ambassador of Selling, Portland, OR. All rights reserved.

Alan Zell is Ambassador Of Selling at Attitudes for Selling. Mr. Zell offers seminars, workshops, consulting for business, industry and academic groups and consulting for individuals, business, industry and academic groups by e-mail. For further information please visit his website at www.sellingselling.com.

 
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