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Building a Marketing Plan from the Inside Out

In many ways, some of the most effective means of communicating or marketing are still the simplest. In Figure 9.2, one-to-one communication in level one represents the most targeted means of influencing a sale. All of the efforts in level one are direct, one-to-one marketing initiatives that can pinpoint individuals who have expressed an interest in what you sell.

FIGURE 9.2 Three Levels of Marketing Penetration

In level two, though these are not direct marketing tactics, marketing through niche media represents a way to communicate with groups of enthusiasts who are brought together based on a common interest. For example, gardeners are drawn to Gardening Magazine, HGTV and gardenweb.com, making these perfect environments for marketers such as Miracle-Gro to get the attention of relatively large groups at the center of the target prospects.

In level three, we see the mass-marketing channels that deliver reach. If you have a product that many different kinds of people consume, such as cars, food, real estate, movies, music, and insurance, mass media can reach and drive new prospects to your Web site as well as touch and influence existing loyal customers.

Major advertisers are demanding better results from the campaigns that their agencies create and place. During the 20th century, most advertisers used the tactics in levels two and three to influence and sell to customers. But increasingly, companies are moving toward the center of the circle in Figure 9.2 by creating one-to-one campaigns with their own customers.

Historically, advertisers and their agencies built their marketing plans from the outside in—starting in the outer ring in level three with mass marketing and moving in toward one-to-one marketing. This was largely because advertising agencies viewed themselves as creators of great advertising as opposed to developers of integrated marketing strategies, plans, and campaigns. But that's changing. Slowly, the many disparate pieces of marketing are at last beginning to come out of the same company as traditional ad agencies broaden their skill sets in the direction of one-to-one and customer share marketing.

Building marketing plans from the inside out is not only a helpful exercise for large companies and brands, but also a practical one for small to mid-size companies that don't necessarily have the marketing budgets to even consider mass-marketing vehicles. The civil engineering firm that calls on the entire universe of only 50 prospective customers will start—in Figure 9.2—with level one in the center of the circle by calling, visiting, direct mailing, and emailing their way toward sales. Ultimately, they may run an ad or two in trade magazines or on trade Web sites in level two, but it's probably not practical for them to even consider level three.

A major national brand, on the other hand, is more likely be active across all three levels, but still should think through marketing to prospects and customers from the inside out—from one-to-one marketing out to one-to-many marketing.

Customer Share Marketing: Getting Started

The sooner marketers begin to practice customer share marketing, the sooner they will be able to engage in a cost-effective program that draws on the equity that their brands have built over time. It's simple for any marketer—big or small, B2B or B2C—to get started by answering these simple questions:

  • What are we specifically doing to build market share? Make an inventory of the current marketing initiatives that are designed to help you build market share.

  • What are we specifically doing to build customer share? Make an inventory of the current marketing initiatives that are designed to help you build customer share.

Take advantage of the significant energy that your market share marketing efforts create by designing a mass marketing/direct marketing plan that communicates with your prospect and customer base on multiple levels. Think of your combined market share and customer share efforts as part of a four-step communication process:

  1. Drive prospects and customers to your Web site. Leverage your mass marketing efforts, either directly or indirectly, to drive prospects and customers to your Web site.

  2. Capture identity and permission. Create a number of clever, relevant, and helpful reasons on your site, such as e-newsletters, email updates, sweepstakes, or contests, to convince prospects to identify themselves by providing their email address as well as granting permission to receive future communications by email.

  3. Build your permission-granted list. Continually feed your permission-granted database with new prospects and customers every day. This list will become increasingly valuable as each day passes. Protect it, and share it with no one.

  4. Work the list. This is your opportunity to build customer relationships as well as a second level of sell by sending helpful and relevant messages to your prospects and customers. Think of what you would say to just one prospect or customer if you met face-to-face. What would you say? Would you sound like an impersonal annual report, or like a friend from next door who provides good advice? How can you be helpful to prospects and customers and not totally self-serving to your sales objectives? How can you speak with them from the right side of your brain?

This important customer share orientation starts with the belief that traditional means of mass marketing can only do so much in its role as a workhorse in battling the noise of thousands of daily commercial messages that bombard our senses. By definition, mass marketing is designed to speak to the masses, not to individuals one at a time. That is the province of direct marketing—the world that Orvis and Tiffany's are practicing in their third centuries.

Growth by customer share is not a random act of marketing, but a calculated, controlled use of the science of direct marketing using the Web and email to communicate with people who have identified themselves as interested in what you have to say or sell.

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