The three best methods of marketing include education, referrals and involvement. Unlike advertising, marketing is a human contact sport. If you truly want to expand operations, there are no other more effective methods than educating the customer, getting referrals and getting involved with the customer.
This article introduces the reader to these three forms of marketing. Later articles will go further in-depth in describing and illustrating each of these three respective forms of marketing.
This is by far the most effective large scale form of marketing available. It is often used by professional organizations to gain trust and loyalty from clients/customers. Once a client is informed about his situation, they are more accepting of the need for the product or service provided by the business. Examples include:
- Medical practices educate their patients about the services and/or options available so the patient can make a more informed decision. Many hospitals offer free education for their patient pool including maternity care, rehabilitation services and various medical procedures.
- Professional services from accounting to legal; many of the professional services educate their clients prior to recommending a strategy.
- Lowe’s and Home Depot run weekend project training sessions
- The American Red Cross uses its education based programs to further their mission. I have attended their CPR class about 4 times in my lifetime. My CPR card shows I completed the course just over two years ago; of course it is only good for two years. But the key is that when you think of helping others, The American Red Cross is one of your first answers. Anytime there is a national or worldwide disaster, I go online and donate to the American Red Cross.
Based on research, customers are up to 25 times more likely to purchase the product or service if educated about the value of the product/service.
Referrals are often used to expand the number of clients or customers for a business. According to the New York Times, 65% of new business is referral generated. The most common source of referrals is your existing customers or clients. Other sources include suppliers, vendors and professional organizations. There are even business groups designed solely to provide referrals to each other. A great example of this is Business Networking International. For more information about BNI, go to their website: BNI.
Referral based marketing is achieved via your existing customers, employees and cross promotion with other businesses.
Customer involvement creates a long lasting bond between the seller of the product or service and the customer. The most common types of involvement are suppliers and vendors having a relationship with their customers. Other examples of involvement with the customer include:
- Subcontractors and the contractor working together to build a project.
- Goodyear sells their tires to NASCAR, but often tests the tires on the various racetracks etc. Representatives are there at the races to listen to the concerns voiced by the crew chiefs and make modifications to the design or materials used for those tires at that racetrack for the following year.
- Insurance companies selling life and retirement products require their agents to gain a full understanding of their customer’s needs prior to selling an insurance contract or an annuity. Often, there are several meetings between the agent and the client so the agent has a full understanding of the client’s issues.
- Mary Kay Cosmetics does a great job of getting involved in their customer’s hygiene and presentation. Often, a representative spends time understanding the customer’s needs and personal habits prior to recommending products. There is constant follow up. Over time a bond develops between the representative and the customer.
- Dairy Queen uses a particular formula for their soft serve ice cream. Dairy Queen has a confidentiality agreement with their suppliers whereby the formula is kept secret. In addition, many of the franchisees have a supply agreement whereby if the store gets too busy, a simple phone call to the supplier gets new product in the store quickly. The drivers make sure the product is rotated upon delivery ensuring the highest and freshest quality for the ultimate consumer. In this situation, the Dairy Queen franchisee is the customer and the dairy is the seller.
In general, customer involvement is more commonly found with the more expensive, low frequent types of purchases such as a home or automobile. Typically real estate agents go to extreme measures to find the best home for the buyer given the buyer’s needs and family circumstances.
There is more to marketing than just a simple handshake. Each form of marketing has a different value basis and serves a purpose: customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer goodwill. Depending on the nature of your business, use the most appropriate form of marketing to achieve overall success. Act on Knowledge.
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