Field of Dreams: Building the Right Plan to Attract More Customers

A post I did for Quantum Innovations.

Field-of-DreamsRecently, I came across a blog post by Seth Godin called Trust Brand. In the post, Godin asks the question, “When you have a choice in what to buy, you will first and foremost (and second and third, in fact) base your choice on a simple question, ‘who do I trust to keep the promise that the marketers are making?’”

At Quantum we work to build our Trust Brand on the platform of knowledge. Between the hands-on skills of our Tech department, the scientific strength of our Process group, and, of course, the years of experience of Norm Kester, knowledge is a resource where we believe we have a competitive advantage. However, being the “David” in an industry of “Goliaths”, perhaps like your lab, we must deal with the challenge of getting the information out about our knowledge, experience or strengths to an audience beyond our existing customers.

The following is a brief summary of how some of the pieces of our marketing strategy have come together and have proven to be successful. The tools are here for you to consider how they might work to benefit your business.

Know Who You Are

In his book, The 8th Habit, Steven Covey says that finding your voice (knowing who you are) is the first step in leading. Practically, this means knowing what your strengths are, and what they are not. Knowing what your core values are and how they will influence how you treat your customers, your employees – even your competition. Without knowing who you are and being true to that fact, each and every effort will be built on shaky ground. I once visited a lab that had a seemingly rich heritage of quality with their existing customers. However, they felt like they needed to compete on the basis of price, thus turning their service into a commodity. This “personality conflict” was contributing to a steady loss of business.  To repeat: You must know who you are and be true to your core values.

Know Who Your Customer Is

Another one that sounds overly simplistic, but is so easily overlooked. This requires time and interaction. A distillation of demographics, while helpful, can never tell the whole story. Real and frequent interaction will help you know not only “who” your customers are, but…

Know Where Your Customers Are

When people get excited about the idea of marketing that uses “new media”, one of the first ideas that is discussed is, “…let’s make (or update) our website”, or, “…we need to engage our customers on Facebook”. However, what if your customers aren’t on Facebook? Just because you create a digital footprint, doesn’t mean your customers will come, or know or respond.

While it’s true that these are all points that were discussed during your first lessons in marketing, they can easily be overlooked and not given the due diligence that they require.

The Tools

As discussed, our brand is being built around the strength of the knowledge we have available to share. This is a daily task that is being worked out in every single conversation that everyone in our office has with every one of our customers and vendors. No one is NOT in sales. Everyone is in sales. Everyone always represents our brand of knowledge. In addition to these daily conversations, we start our knowledge presentation with this blog.

Quantum Blog Posts

Every other Tuesday, we launch a new blog post. Typically, we’ll have two “technical” posts that speak to current trends, common problems or new solutions for labs or the ophthalmic industry. The value that Norm brings to the conversation has been found to be incredibly helpful to many labs (and frankly, makes producing this blog much easier, too). After two technical posts, we’ll feature a “cultural” post that focuses on leadership, family… the things that make us, us. Not just what we do, but the character elements that help us do it better.

Action: What do you have to share with your customers? What do you wish every one of your customers knew that you know would help them be successful? This is where you can start your blog. The frequency of your posts is less important than quality of the content.

Quantum Social Media Channels

We use many of the familiar channels: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. However, we don’t use all of them in the same way or speak to the same audience. This all goes back to the points of knowing who and where your customers are..

LinkedIn: Here we reach out to upper management and owners of labs. We generally limit LinkedIn to product or service announcements and Press Releases on our page. Also, when a blog post is created or a new edition of our monthly newsletter, QMail, we share the information on LinkedIn. This creates an easy way for folks to share this information with others who could benefit from the knowledge.

Quantum LinkedIn

Twitter:  Is used more for general information, interesting facts or articles. Generally, we’ll send two “Tweets” a day – one in the morning (between 7:00-8:00am Eastern time) and one in the (between 3:00-4:00pm Eastern time). These can be industry announcements, news stories you read or that are shared with you by colleagues. Another tool we use is Google Alerts. Google Alerts allow you to create a search phrase that Google will use to search the internet and find new stories related to that topic and then email the results to you. You can then review the 10-15 stories found and determine if they are consistent with the message you want to communicate (Know Who You Are) to your customers (Know Who Your Customer Is). Many experts will say that we don’t have enough tweets per day. While that may be true statistically, we’d rather focus on the quality rather than quantity. We believe that better represents who we are as a company.

Quantum Twitter

Facebook: The name that everyone associates with “social media”, we use Facebook for lighter announcements or quotes we find motivational. It’s more of a “fun” interaction. Also, photos have great success on Facebook for us.

Quantum Facebook

Instagram: Recently purchased by Facebook, Instagram makes it easy to post and share photos. We use Instagram to highlight product photos, new product releases, or when our latest Fusion ships out the door.

Quantum Instagram

Bringing Them All Together

Beyond sending out your message, another advantage of social media is the ability to cross promote between each channel. This can be done manually by going to each channel that works for your lab, or you can use a tool called Hootsuite that helps you manage all your channels from one interface to help save time and effort.

Hootsuite

While this is just a cursory review of these tools, and how we use them, the bigger questions are where we started.

Action: Answer the following questions for you, your lab and your customers.

  • Who are you? What are you uniquely equipped to communicate to your customers?
  • Who are your customers? What information do they need to know, even if they don’t KNOW they need to know it?
  • Where are your customers? You may find, by answering the first two questions, only one of the tools listed above will work with your customers, or it may require something else that isn’t listed here. By correctly answering the first two questions, you are guaranteed to find the correct answer to the third.

Knowledge is the brand that we want to further develop and promote. We believe that when we do it  well, we help to make “Quantum” be a compelling answer to your question, “Who do I trust when it comes to helping my lab perform better?”

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