Organizations will often submit definitions for their field of interest. For instance, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) will write and submit a definition for public relations which is then used by professionals and academia. The American Marketing Association (AMA) is no different and offers the following definition of marketing. They contend that marketing is “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
I applaud this definition for two reasons. The first delivers a blow to those who would say marketers will sell or promote anything. Savvy marketers and business owners realize that they must deliver value to their customers. The second reason is that it speaks of managing customer relationships; customer service is critical because it has the potential to make or break a company.
Shopping isn’t what it used to be
I don’t think there’s been a time in history where the consumer has been so armed with information. Smartphones and other mobile devices make it easy to look up information, especially while shopping. My husband is notorious for this. We were in a store browsing around and happened on a kitchen counter top rotisserie. We read the featured highlights on the box but we wanted to know more. Would this thing break on us after a few uses? My husband pulls out his smartphone and within seconds we’re reading reviews of the product. We also compare prices and conclude it would be a good buy but ultimately decide against it. My husband and I make up that 30 percent of shoppers who actually use their smartphones while shopping.
Today’s customers are armed with information and short on patience.
How do you deliver value? One way is by anticipating the customers needs and/or wants. This calls for innovation. Apple is a shining example of this kind of delivering value; of being innovative. Because who knew 10 years ago, we’d need iPads? In order to deliver value, businesses have to listen to their customers, ask questions and then respond in a timely fashion. And then your product or service must live up to your positioning strategy if you want the customer to concur with the value being associated with the product or service.
They won’t be customers very long if you’re not delivering value.
The importance of managing customer relationships
It’s also true that if you’re not managing your customer relationships, if customer service is poor, you could also potentially lose customers. I remember I was looking for a vendor and filled out a few online communication forms. It was the weekend and suspected I wouldn’t hear from anyone until Monday afternoon. I heard back from one company. The rest never responded and I won’t call on them again. The one company that did call me back has been in contact with me, made some suggestions and is a good example of managing a potential customer relationship well. I have no doubt that once we conduct business that they will take care of me as a customer.
Marketing isn’t a room full of conmen trying to find ways to dupe mindless consumers out of their hard-earned cash.
Today’s marketers know they are dealing with a savvy customer who is a mobile device away from pricing and product information and delivering value to that customer is a must.