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Understand Your Customers Better: Four Tips From Caterpillar

A guest post by Tim Altier of Bridgz.

Your marketing efforts are more successful when you focus on the customer—not the product—even when you sell machines large enough to move mountains.

When heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar began selling smaller-scale machines to the landscape, construction, and agriculture markets, the company made a strategic decision to sharpen its customer-centric focus.

“Traditionally, Cat and our dealers personally know the buyers for our large-scale equipment,” says Connie LaFlamme, Cat’s marketing consultant for its Building & Construction Products Group in Cary, NC. “But for our equipment sized for use by small to medium construction firms, landscapers, and agricultural producers, we found that we had to stretch to find the right communication channels and messaging because of the expansive customer universe and a tougher competitive environment.”

LaFlamme and marketing consultant Stephanie Hetzel chose to work with Minneapolis-based Bridgz Marketing Group because our stock in trade is helping clients use data to connect directly to their customers’ feelings, attitudes, and buying intentions. The firm specializes in customer-centric marketing that builds the bridge between client and customer.

“We turned up the intensity in our data analysis to uncover more and better information about customers’ buying patterns and cycles,” says LaFlamme. “We refined our marketing metrics to measure right down to sales results. Around Cat, the tolerance for non-measurable marketing strategies is zero.”

The chief objective was to team with Caterpillar to understand its customers at a new, deeper level—and in the process improve the relevancy of customer interaction with the brand.

Here are four lessons we learned from Caterpillar’s success that can help any organization take a customer-centric approach.

1. Combine data sources. Caterpillar and Bridgz blended proprietary warranty data and dealer intelligence—plus public data from a variety of sources—to get closer to the customer. Combining these data sources let the team create a holistic view of the customer. A social media strategy also emerged from the data analysis, which revealed that small contractors are highly active on social media.

2. Customize. Armed with that detailed information, Caterpillar can anticipate when target customers in a given industry are likely to be looking for a new piece of equipment and then initiate a conversation with the target at the right time—with customized messaging modeled to each situation. “We try to address what’s on that particular customer’s mind, including how our value proposition fits with their business philosophy, such as business productivity, total cost of ownership, quality, and dealer support,” LaFlamme says.

3. Use competitive positioning. According to Hetzel, if the customer is using another brand now, Caterpillar’s messaging speaks to its brand’s specific strengths vis-à-vis the competitor. And the communications are integrated and multidimensional; they use the most effective channel, such as events, advertising, direct mail, online or communication, that the situation demands.

4. Measure. Because Caterpillar tracks sales data linked directly to marketing expenditures, ROI data is available. The results have been impressive. Sales to targeted companies yielded a 6:1 ratio of ROI from marketing expenditures in a recent measurement period. Bridgz National Account Manager Andrew Galarneault says, “The detailed metrics we are able to generate also give Caterpillar the predictive tools they need to build successful marketing programs in the future by evaluating each aspect of every marketing campaign.”

The customer segmentation work performed by the marketing team has helped Caterpillar improve its ability to develop machines that are right for each market.

“Marketing and engineering work together to analyze our competitive position, which results in products that we know our customers want,” Hetzel says.

Tim Altier is director of business analytics and insight at Bridgz.

Tags: customer experience, customers, Marketing, Strategy and Tactics

View the original article here

How to Tell Your Company’s Story [infodoodle]

Telling your company’s story can be a little like going on a first date. You might be all gussied up and at the right place—but you need to think about the art of conversation, too. How can you make sure you don’t bore your date to tears? How can you share information about yourself that engages the listener?

As in dating, telling your company’s story requires a little planning, talking, and listening. You can unearth the good stories about your company by asking yourself (or others in your company) the right questions.

To get your creativity flowing, Ann Handley, MarketingProfs chief content officer and co-author of Content Rules, suggests companies ask themselves specific questions.

We’ve put them in this colorful infodoodle slideshow.  (You also can find the questions at the end of this post.)

Companies should ask themselves these questions.

1. What is unique about your business?
2. What is interesting about how your business was founded? About your founder?
3. What problem is your company trying to solve?
4. What inspired your business?
5. What aha moments has your company had?
6. How has your business evolved?
7. What’s an unobvious way to tell your story?
8. What do you consider normal and boring that other folks would think is cool?

Tags: brand, Branding, Content, Content Marketing, Marketing, MarketingProfs

View the original article here