Powered by the Internet, the global economy has brought significantly accelerated market conditions where the competitive climate is no longer simply one company competing against another, but a company and its affiliates and supply chain competing against the other company and their affiliates and supply chain. This brings about significant challenges during already challenging times; but, the key is to have the discipline and the right people on your team to execute a growth strategy regardless of the times as articulated by Jim Collins below.
Internet marketing strategies today must then be robust and agile if they are intent on finding ways to leverage these extended enterprises in order to build long-term sustainable competitive advantages. These new forms of a consortia brought into corporate alignment, in large part via the Internet, are now able to leverage the unique strengths of each company to (a) expand markets and market entry points, (b) effect price by driving higher business volumes and operating efficiencies, and (c) improve customer satisfaction with added-value information. Commerce is at a crossroads, and in order for your company to succeed in this environment your team will have to effectively excel in the four key areas of technology, Internet marketing, service, and branding to fully benefit from these new channel opportunities.
Obviously, the future where Internet technology plays the pivotal role in increasing the relationship with the customers by providing more conveniences and informational services is here. However, it should be noted that this reality should serve to ensure that the customer feels connected to the company rather than disconnected by the technology. This article is not written to educate you on the technical infrastructures that make up web portals or supply chain connectivity, but to remind that a customer-driven philosophy and environment is the way to go.
One of the problems today is that in the rush to produce volumes of subpar content over the web, companies find ‘no pay a heavy cost for’ having their increased capabilities brought on by the supply chain easily outpaced by customer perceptions. Without value realization, you will not maximize the return on your hard earned capabilities unless these two components are matched. The outside perception of your business should match the inside reality and this is only achieved when advanced content is created at a level parallel to your products and services. After spending your resources developing the inside reality, not having the outside perception match will result in frustration due to minimal sales. To be a marketing leader, you and your channel partners must be committed to turning all touch points into moments of relationship building opportunities.
An obsessive focus on all information surrounding the customer at all contact points is the most effective way to establish service leadership. As we know, when a customer walks, they talk. Studies show that when a customer has a negative experience, they will tell 20 friends about it and only 7 when they have a positive one. Now with social networking rapidly becoming a dominant “qualifier”: Now, if a customer is happy with your service, their message spreads to more than 1,000. So, (reputation is huge).
Excellent customer service begins its focus at the beginning of the buying process and continues for life. This attention always views business processes from the customers’ eyes and treats each customer as a valuable and familiar client with whom a long-term relationship has been built.
Regardless of what contact point the customer interacts with your company, they are dealt with the way they wish to be dealt with—as a valuable and familiar client with whom a long-term relationship has been built. As with any other relationship in life, this only happens with personal (highly customized), frequent, and quality communications.
Lou Gerstner, Past Chairman and CEO of IBM stated that, “Branding-it is a very important issue and will dominate business thinking I suspect for a decade or more”. If you and your company aspire to move from a brand management and image position to brand leadership and equity status, a number of changes must take place. First, the brand elasticity will have to be analyzed for its ability to hold up to the broader marketplace and challenge of building and sustaining an Internet presence. Secondly, when it comes to lead management, sales and marketing must be aligned behind the brand to achieve synchronized communications. In this manner, your company should strive to show, rather than talk about the brand.
In a recent survey, 42 percent of business executives said that collaborative relationships and market differentiation strategies were one of the biggest business challenges they face. Additionally, industry analysts claim that between 30 and 60 percent of information is inaccurate by the time it reaches the retail level. Certainly, it takes leadership to address these issues and to create synergy with branding partners all contributing to a customer-focused supply chain. This strategic high ground happens when message consistency is achieved across all channels.
Monopolizing your channel may sound overly optimistic and certainly aggressive, but it may also end up being the only way to win as the Internet regularly proves that Ziph’s Law (winner-take-all world) is in effect . These issues are relevant for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer business models. From operations to marketing, synchronizing your organizational universe is challenging, but also inherent in those challenges is incredible opportunity. Establishing a simple, yet thorough Internet marketing and communications strategy will provide the platform to reach your business plan objectives.
Please share your thoughts or challenges.