Marketing only one piece of the puzzle


There is so much focus on developing strategies to attract clients, I fear the need to deliver quality products and services is getting lost.

A solid marketing strategy is an essential component of any business, but it is only one component that, when combined with others, leads to a successful enterprise. Among the buzz of online and offline marketing tactics you may notice there is very little talk in the mainstream about successful execution.

You may argue that without clients coming through the door, you don’t have a business. True. But it’s also true that if you can’t deliver according to your customers’ expectations created by your marketing campaign, then you don’t have a business, either — or you won’t for long.

Recently, I’ve heard stories of disappointment from people who have worked with fairly popular service providers. They do a great job of networking, raising their profile and making the sale, but do a lousy job of servicing their clients and delivering on promises.

Creating a strategy to attract new clients when your current clients are walking out the back door is a futile exercise and just plain bad business. It is a widely accepted fact it is more cost-effective and prudent to manage a return client than attract a new one. Thus, this column is devoted to encouraging you to review your client management strategy and ensure you are executing according to plan.

Step back for a moment, imagine you had your maximum client load and consider their experience with your firm. Would you be happy with your service level? How about with the final product? Do you provide value or are you selling substandard, commodity-type service that can easily be replaced by the next-lowest bidder? Have you devised a process that applies to all of your clients, so each gets the same value?

It’s easy to create messaging and spin exciting catchy phrases that will entice a potential client when you’re marketing. The catch is to ensure the message you’re sending accurately represents what the client is getting.

Ironically, one of the biggest culprits in the marketing versus execution struggle is the marketing firms themselves. Naturally, many do a great job of selling to the client, but when it comes to delivering, it can be tough to justify and quantify their input. Some firms are definitely better than others.

Interestingly enough, I glanced at my own bookshelves to notice the majority of my hundreds of business books are devoted to everything leading up to securing a client — attitude, sales, strategy, keeping balance, networking and branding are some key themes.

Even though at first glance I can’t see it, surely there are a few books on successful execution. Even though I am confident with my personal execution strategies, it makes me wonder how little focus my industry places on execution as a whole. It seems the books and the buzz have the marketing angle covered — and that’s great. Just remember, though, that marketing is something, it’s just not everything.