By Keith Piques
Chief Marketing Officer
Ply Gem Industries, Inc
One of the most interesting topics of discussion among marketing executives today is the allocation of marketing spend. How much of the total marketing spend should be allocated to digital marketing and social media versus traditional marketing? What is the most effective and cost efficient marketing mix to achieve the sales and profit goals in a sluggish economy and intensely competitive environment? How do we invest enough money in social media marketing to determine if this is an effective medium to help drive sales growth? The discussion is more important and the topic is even more interesting as marketing spend remains flat at best for most businesses. And in industries on a slower pace of recovery from the economic downturn, marketing budgets continue to decline. For most businesses, any increase in spending on digital marketing and social media requires an equal decrease in spending on traditional media – leaving little room for experimentation with new media. These are tough decisions.
While it is important to assemble the right mix of new and traditional media to ensure the optimal integration of marketing tactics, these decisions are of secondary importance when it comes to creating customer demand and driving sales. The bigger question is “How do the marketing and sales teams work together most effectively to create demand?” Well, it’s about taking the critical prerequisite steps to truly understand the customer’s business – to grasp what really helps the customer make more money. Armed with this keen insight about the customer, the organization can proceed to develop a compelling and differentiated value proposition – one that delivers value to both parties. When a business truly understands its customers’ perspectives and the specific things it can provide to help customers make more money, it is well positioned to capture a fair share of profit growth for itself. These are the key ingredients to deliver sales and profit growth.
A new approach has been introduced to guide integrated marketing to deliver on what is most important – clear understanding and communication of a winning value proposition that drives profitable sales growth. The approach, called Customer Value Creation (CVC), begins with a new customer conversation centered on “customer value.” The sales and marketing teams guide customers through a structured discussion that results in a list of what is most important to the customer’s business and the associated financial payoff for the customer in the form of additional operating profit dollars. The financial payoff is measured with a new metric – the Differential Value Proposition Percentage or DVP. This is a simple metric that shows how much more money a customer makes doing business with you versus competitors in incremental operating profit dollars. This metric reduces everything an organization provides to a simple bottom-line metric. This powerful metric brings a new level of clarity to the relationship between two organizations. In some cases this new conversation results in confirmation and in other cases a major wake-up call – some organizations are not delivering as much value to their customers as they may think. The DVP removes the guesswork or uncertainty.
Customer Value Creation also delivers the most important ingredient to effective integrated marketing – the “short list” of differential value attributes that any mix of integrated marketing must clearly communicate to customers. What moves customers to buy? Well, nothing moves the customer to take action more than a compelling value proposition. You can design the most creative digital marketing campaign, send a tantalizing Twitter tweet, create a loveable Linked-In discussion group, develop a fan-tastic Facebook fan page, enable a rockin’ RSS feed, or launch the killer iPhone app. But, if the social media tool is void of a vivid value proposition that helps customers make more money doing business with you relative to your competitors, it will likely be a big waste of time and money.
In these exciting times of seemingly endless options of marketing tools, the executives that remain focused on the fundamentals will be most successful. The CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CMOs and other senior leaders that stay focused on separating their organizations from competitors by gaining deeper insight into customers, quantifying customer insight in financial terms, and using this data to improve decision-making will be the real winners. The marketing leaders that develop a supporting integrated marketing strategy to best communicate the compelling value proposition and deliver profitable sales growth will make the greatest contribution to their organization’s winning score. Integrated marketing guided by a winning value proposition delivers results.
About the author:
D. Keith Pigues, CMO of Ply Gem Industries, Adjunct Professor of Leadership at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and past chairman of the Business Marketing Association, is co-author with Jerry Alderman of “Wining with Customers: A Play book for B2B,” which was published in August 2010 by Wiley & Sons (www.winningwithcustomers.com). He can be reached at Keith.Pigues@plygem.com
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