Marketing in the Boardroom is an important book for any aspiring marketers who are moving up the career ladder, particularly those who are writing or giving presentations to the Board. It is also an important book for their organizations, particularly those that struggle to give marketing the support it needs to create customer-led strategies that will drive business growth.
Recent research into the current focus of B2B marketers has pointed to two interesting trends guiding much of their activity around building their B2B brands: (1) moving from a price driven focus to a value-based approach and by (2) placing more emphasis on the customer experience. Although these highlighted areas of focus were reported as unique separate initiatives, the concept of enhancing value and improving the customer experience are strongly linked and can be considered holistically.
In the B2B world, market share is pursued and defended constantly. On a customer-by-customer basis companies constantly exploit opportunities to take share from competitors and develop strategies to prevent losing share. Sustainable growth is dependent on developing solid strategies in both of these areas. So how do you begin to understand all of the market dynamics associated with developing a comprehensive strategy designed to protect and grow market share?
Since being introduced in Frederick Reichheld’s article “The One Number You Need to Grow”, the concept of measuring customer loyalty through a single question survey has become a common practice among many B2B companies. The power of this single metric, “Net-Promoter Score” (NPS), is built on the concept that “word of mouth” is a strong driver of growth. According to Reichheld, “research shows a strong correlation between a company’s growth rate and the percentage of its customers who are “promoters” – that is, those who state they are extremely likely to recommend the company to a friend or colleague. The Net-Promoter Score (Figure 1) is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who say they are unlikely to recommend from the percentage who say they are extremely likely to do so.”
In our previous correspondence, we discussed the value in having increased knowledge of your current customer base by understanding two of the four dimensions of customer satisfaction. Knowing how well your products and services align with your customers current and future requirements helps focus a large portion of your growth strategy. The third dimension of meaningful customer satisfaction research, competitive position, provides a clear picture of your performance against competition.
Many companies rely on internal salespeople and marketers for insight into their customers. While helpful, customers reveal limited information to someone pursuing their business. Externally focused customer satisfaction studies are highly valuable, as they provide an in-depth customer needs assessment that evaluates your performance and value against customer requirements to determine alignment as well as identify performance gaps.
If you are looking for growth opportunities, increasing share with existing customers is usually the fastest and lowest risk growth option available. Properly designed customer satisfaction research delivers the critical pieces of information needed to develop a winning revenue growth strategy: the product and service attributes most important to your customers, your performance on each attribute, your competitive position relative to each attribute, and the critical few attributes that drive your customers to recommend your business to other potential customers.
Driven by a dramatic increase in the global internet penetration, online surveys are becoming a popular method for collecting primary research. Delivering faster responses and higher response rates at substantially lower costs, online surveys streamline the methodology of collecting survey data versus traditional telephone and print surveys.
Custom research typically employs extensive or targeted primary research to go beyond what can be uncovered through secondary research. In-depth interviews are the most versatile form of primary research, and are appropriate when targeting detailed perceptions, opinions, and attitudes. In-depth interviews are particularly effective when the goal is to capture sensitive feedback. These interviews can be conducted in-person or over the telephone to gain deeper insight to specific objectives by probing for quality responses. This offers an advantage over self-completion methods, such as surveys, because the respondent is more likely to give their full attention and the interviewer can deduce the quality of each response.
To deepen the understanding of a market, custom research employs extensive or targeted primary research to go beyond what can be uncovered through secondary research only. In-depth interviews are the most versatile form of primary research, and are appropriate when targeting detailed perceptions, opinions, and attitudes. In-depth interviews are particularly effective when the goal is to capture feedback that is sensitive. These interviews can be conducted in-person or over the telephone to gain deeper insight to specific objectives by probing for quality responses. This offers an advantage over self-completion methods, such as surveys, because the respondent is more likely to give their full attention and the interviewer can deduce the quality of each response.