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Can messaging boost marketing ROI?

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in The Integrated Marketer

Turns out that satisfying customers isn’t enough. Why? Because customers who are merely satisfied will leave you for a penny.  That’s especially true in this economy.  Unless you want to be a sitting duck for competitors, you need to change the way you look at marketing.

Maybe that means taking a new look at messaging. Messaging isn’t just what you say in your ads, emails, Web site or elevator pitch.  Messaging is also how you answer the phone, how promptly you respond, how your people dress and perform, and how they talk to customers – and to each other.  In short, messaging is a huge part of marketing your company.  And unless your messaging is getting to prospects and employees, the best marketing in the world won’t make you profitable.

Want an example?  Harvard MBA professor Earl Sasser, Jr. tells the story of how Southwest Airlines bowled him over with in-flight service. But at baggage claim, there was total confusion and a horrendous wait. In talking to the baggage claim manager, Sasser was amazed to learn that the confusion was intentional. Turns out, the manager was judged solely on how well he met his budget.  It was the end of the month, he needed to bring his payroll in on budget, and so he was intentionally running short staffed. The manager confessed to Sasser that he ran short staffed at the end of every month. Sasser asked if the manager realized that poor baggage service could undermine the brand Southwest was trying to market and could even cost the airline existing customers. The manager loved that idea!  With fewer customers he could actually bring his payroll in under budget.  Yikes, right?

So how do you make sure your own employees “get the memo” on what you’re trying to do with your marketing and your brand? I’ll offer one solution: build a formal messaging strategy that defines what your brand is, what it means to employees, what it means to customers and how everyone should experience your brand (back to what we said earlier about how you answer the phone, how promptly you respond, etc.).

Got other solutions?  We’d love to hear them – and any stories you’d like to share about disconnects between front-end marketing and back-end customer experience.


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