strategies posted in business strategies  on 30 June 2010
by Andrew Lang 
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Marketing Is All About Improving Your Product/Service

A while ago I wrote about push and pull marketing and how the market has moved away from push to pull i.e. cold calling and interrupting people (push) is less effective because it's gotten much easier for people to find out about products/services and be drawn to the ones they want to buy (pull).

Despite this trend, a lot of companies are still relying on interruption (push) marketing to win over customers. I get cold called about outsourcing, SEO, advertising and hosting mainly. When I get these calls, it's a case of me being interrupted from my work while I have to listen to a sales pitch. I always jump in immediately saying I don't really take sales calls in business hours, but please send on an email with your details and I'll be in touch if I'm interested. Rarely does the salesperson immediately comply - they seem to fall back to a plan B sales pitch. I often have to repeat this request before the phone call ends. And of course, I get the follow up call / email several days later even though I said I'd be in touch if I was interested.

Alternatively a company will send me an unsolicited email. I'm not interested in what they have to offer, and so simply don't reply. A week later I get a second response from the same company. It normally opens with "We haven't heard back from you - I hope all is well" etc etc. It's as if my non-response provokes the deepest concern as if I've gone missing or something, because how could I not respond to an unsolicited email?

This kind of passive-aggression is typical of interruption marketing where you're brow-beaten and cajoled into becoming either a customer, or an annoyed non-customer. And it's not like interruption marketing is pleasant for the seller either.

It's so much easier just to focus on improving your product or service to draw people in. Permission marketing is this wonderful thing where customers come to you and they're already half (or fully) sold on your product/service.

Yeah, but I don't have a say in the quality of my product, how can I improve it?

First off, providing product(s) for shoppers is a service in itself. You can improve that service. Even if you sell a widget that 100 other sites sell, your service can be the best (or up there with the best):-
  • customer care - no quibble money back guarantee, speed delivery etc
  • make it easier to find products on your site e.g. categorise by both colours, and brands
  • work on your search engine rankings - if you've already got a decent product and customer care, be easier to find than your competitors - that in itself is improving your service
  • provide useful information on your site - perhaps information on ways the products you sell can be used
  • make it easy for the customer to buy your product (this one is normally down to the website developer/template you use)
However, if you provide a service (not a product), then your marketing is all about improving that service. While you improve your service, you are inadvertently helping the marketing of that service.

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