Undercover Marketing Director


undercoverA few months ago, I came across a post on one of my LinkedIn groups that posed a great question. It’s something we don’t think about everyday as marketers, while we should.  It really goes to the heart of what marketing is suppose to do for an organization. The question of which I speak was: Would you buy from your company? In short, given what your company is doing and saying to their audiences, if you were prospective customer and you came across your company for a need that they could fulfill at the level of expectation, would you do business with them?   This question, or challenge, is one that is directed to anyone who touches marketing, sales or customer service.  It’s a self-exam of sorts because it does mean taking a hard and honest look at the organization.

So, imagine if you will, as a potential customer, you’ve landed at the doorstep of your company as a result of a referral. What are you going to find? What is that experience going to be like? How easy is it going to be?  Are your customer-facing team members all on the same page when it comes to understanding what needs to be said and done when it comes to furthering the brand?

If you don’t know, you’d better find out—and sooner rather than later.

The customer experience will determine whether or not you attract and retain customers.  If you don’t provide your customers with a superior experience when they do business with you, they won’t stay with you for long. So to make that happen, I would offer up that you do a bit of walking in your customers’ shoes to see first-hand what the customer is exposed to.  In some respects, it’s learning about the company in the same way that CEO’s do in the show “Undercover Boss.”  It’s a real eye-opener for those C-suite professionals to see what their people encounter on the job and how they respond to the challenges of serving their customers.

Go through every step of the buyer process just as the buyer would. Pick your website apart. Is it easy to navigate? Are the questions you want answered done in human speak or in some type of business babble? Ask for a response to a question. How long does it take for someone to respond?  How does it compare to  competitors…not just in terms of look but in messaging that the customer wants to hear…not messaging that you want to hear yourself say.

From a SEO perspective, does your website use the same jargon or acronyms your potential customers really use?  Are you thinking like your customer before creating content because in this hyper-fast world, prospective customers have the attention span of a goldfish and will immediately shut down or leave if they feel like the content doesn’t resonate with them. How does your social media marketing present your company in ways that say to the prospect “This company sounds interesting. I’ll give them a look-see.”

How does your organization as a whole treat your customers…as valued customers or as dollar signs? Want to find out?  Call your company from a phone that won’t identify you and see what happens. How long does it take for your call to be answered? Is it answered by a live person, or are you faced with an endless stream of options—push 1 for company hours, push 2 for company address, push 3 for arming the self-destruct system, and on and on and on?

While you’re at it, ask about a particular product. Ask about a service. Say that you are having a problem with a product you purchased and then sit back and see how employees respond. Are they helpful? Do they respond to your questions in a knowledgeable manner? Do they empathize with you? Do they have the authority to solve your problem, quickly and to your satisfaction?  An unwillingness to experience and understand what the customer (prospective and current) is having to deal with makes your marketing messaging meaningless because while you might a shot to get the business, if it’s a dismal failure most anything you say from that point out will fall on deaf ears. So is there a disconnect between your marketing message and the reality of dealing with your company?

With this in mind, here are a couple of questions that might be answered as a result of your efforts. First, are your sales, marketing and customer service departments aligned with one another?  As these three groups will be what a prospective customer first sees, it’s critical that you understand what the customer wants to see and hear and then work towards making it easy for customers to get what they need..at time of purchase and afterwards. Second, what are the biggest opportunities to improve the experience? In today’s world, a relationship based on trust trumps product and price. Customers don’t want to do business with companies who only care about selling. They’re looking for a trusted solution provider.

Taking a walk in your customers’ shoes will provide you with some insights to make certain that your customers see your company in a way that will prompt them to want to do business with you…which leads to a happy customer.  So, when does your “Undercover Marketing Director” journey begin?


Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com.  You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.

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