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When developing marketing messages, most companies bring a team of people into a conference room and brainstorm why the world should think they are wonderful and then they discuss all the ways they want to push the message out so everyone else thinks they are wonderful. We call this inside-out messaging and it’s an approach we advise against.

Instead, consider outside-in messaging: a process that takes the customer’s needs and perceptions into account and creates a marketing message based on perceptions that already exist, opportunities to stand out from your competition, and creation of value that your market will believe.

Including your customers in the development of your marketing message not only creates a stronger message but it helps build stronger relationships with your clients and often leads to increased referrals. Our experience has shown that clients appreciate the opportunity to help your business be stronger and love the chance to be heard. Here is how it works:

Identify 8-10 customers to participate in the process.

Make sure these customers are a good representation of the feedback you want – don’t choose only customers who love you. If you offer a variety of services or serve a variety of markets make sure to include customers from different industries or who have worked with you in different ways.

Select a well-rounded interviewer.

You should not conduct these interviews yourself. Your client is likely to be much more open with someone else, especially if they know that the results will be compiled together and not attributed to one person. The interviewer should be able to put people at ease and engage them in a conversation and needs a good understanding of your business and client base.

Ask permission.

We always approach this as a presumed close but do make sure you ask your customers if they are willing to participate in the process and provide feedback. Explain why you are asking and what you intend to do with the information.

Finalize your questions.

Make sure the questions are on target with the goal – if you are looking for input into your marketing messages then you want to understand why your client selected you, if they have had experience with other companies that provide what you do, what they valued, what they think your company strengths are, where they see opportunities.

The interviews are conducted, results are compiled and then you start looking for trends – what is common about what the clients’ said, what nugget did you discover that you never realized they valued, what things do you need to think about and improve to increase referrals? Answering these questions will help you create a simple, effective, unique marketing message that focuses on value.

The Ultimate Guide to Harnessing the Power of Customer Success

About the Author

Susan LaPlante-Dube | PMG Principal
Susan LaPlante-Dube, PMG Principal

Susan LaPlante-Dube created PMG in 2002 and acts as one of PMG’s Principals. As a jack-of-all-trades in marketing, she loves digging deep on a topic and finding new ways to spin old ideas. While she would prefer having some high-tech voice software to record all of her blog thoughts instead of having to write them down, she loves the satisfaction of helping her readers learn something new.

 Tags: Marketing for Professional Services Marketing Strategy and Planning

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