Are you asking the right questions??

OK, this has happened with me many a times. I’d spend so much energy and time scheduling meetings with clients, preparing the presentation, confirmation emails to and fro and of course navigating to the office location. But all of this is a prep work for the final few minutes (depending how much you have been granted) that you get with the client. Once you are through the usual greetings, one liner puns to ease the tempers (for being late in my case :-/) and exchange of business cards….the time starts ticking for you to make some sense before its time to wrap up. Now you know how important this topic is??…and realize how easily you can turn a crucial meeting into a futile exercise if you DO NOT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!

I am going to write about some of my meetings with clients and how to I prepared to ace it. As a marketing professional I meet clients who are looking for marketing and branding solutions, and that’s what I am going to talk about here. Believe me…its the worst feeling coming back from a meeting and saying this↓↓↓ to yourself 😀

Related image

 

Scenario I:   Introduction Meeting

There are times when the agenda of the meeting says “get to know”. do not fall for the trap and take it as a typical networking meeting where you exchange cards and check out the other person’s clothing (#judgemenot). If the client wants to “get to know ” you there is always some scope of work which s/he does not want to disclose straight away. And so it becomes your onus to get that scope of work out of them during the meeting. Think of it as an interrogation only set up in a corporate environment and no gansta talk 😛

So here are 5 questions that you MUST ask when meeting your client/prospects for the first time.

#1 About the organization

well i know the name says abc motors or xyz construction…so its pretty obvious. But do not shy away from asking the client about their company because then you know what and how they describe their business. believe me they always gives away a lot of additional information that you will not find in their ‘about us’ section of the website…like what are their business priorities, expansion plans, subsidiaries and so on.

Also, read between the lines when they say we are planning to set up a team, acquire some business or maybe shut some part of the business. That is where either you are required or you can pitch for your services.

Image result for about us

#2 How did you come to know about our company?

The benefits of asking this question is twofold…here’s how. My company’s marketing investment is focused on Google SEO and Adwords. So if we get to know that companies are reaching out to us after they see our ads or spot us in the top rankings of Google search, we know its money well spent. If companies are hearing about you from other industry players…then you must be doing your job right!

Image result for word of mouth

#3 How can we help you?

Its simple and straight forward. Up until this time in the meeting the two parties have “known” each other quite well so let’s stop the dilly dally and talk business. Of course before you ask this question introduce your company and all the services that you provide. So that the client/prospect is not wondering if you are the right person to ask for help. It is always better to have a company presentation, brochure or profile so that the client gets to see your work.

Image result for how can i help

#4  Do you want to know more?

It is like breadcrumbs you leave behind to let the conversation flowing. Yes the client needs something that you can provide as a one time job. But if you see more scope of business where you can definitely impress the client, here is you chance. Talk about how you can send them some more information via email of schedule another round of meeting to discuss in detail. The client’s response will also tell you about his interest level in doing business with you. So think of it as a litmus test of your performance so far.

Also if the client is interested and wants to see what you have in store, take a note of all that you gotta share and please do not forget to share the same!

Image result for want more

#5  What next?

This very question prompted me to write this post. Only that I asked this question to myself  on my way back from the meeting…What am I supposed to do next? You know the meeting went well, there is scope and it would be great if you could do business with them…but what do i do immediately after this meeting so that all of the possibilities become come true!

It is no good asking yourself this question…it is rather too late. Confirm the next set of actions before you sign off. Be on the same page and make a note of what key information/communication has to be exchanged between the two parties. You will be surprised as to how much a even a short meeting can lead to.  It is also a good practice to share minutes of the meeting (MOM) to have a record of the points discussed and it can accompany the ‘thank you/pleasure to meet you’ email.

Related image

I hope this helps your next meeting 🙂 and don’t fall asleep during one 😉

Image result for after meeting gif

 

Festive Season Marketing

It is my fourth month in Doha, Qatar and my first ever experience of staying and working in the middle east. Coming from India, where i got my education and started my career in marketing, I am now excited to explore this new part of the world and know it’s culture and traditions from of the eyes of a marketer.

Living here you cannot stay untouched from the flow of emotions during the holy month of Ramadan. It did not come to be as a surprise because a multi culture land like India certainly opens you up to different religious belief and practices. But here Ramadan becomes a part of your every day life during this one month.Be it the early morning work hours, the way you greet people, the sense of oneness in having a meal together…it leaves you feeling loved and blessed irrespective of who you are and where you come from.

While most people practice austerity and charity during this time, one cannot miss the loud festive marketing that lures you to the amazing sales and offers in the mall. When you step out on the streets there are ‘Ramadan Kareem’ wishes all around you…and they are mostly coupled with some great offer details that you wouldn’t want to let go. But this is not new, it is exactly the same during Diwali in India…from electronics to automobiles to gold… every store front is wishing you a prosperous Diwali and selling you stuff to make it prosperous.

But its not just material…Emotions are the driving force behind every festive season marketing. Case in point is surf excel ad, a well known and used detergent brand all over the world. Most surf excel ads beautifully capture how stains are effortless…both getting one and getting it off. But here is their Ramadan ad which instills in our mind the importance of kindness during this holy month. #NekiEkIbadat being the core messaging for this ad, I love how this ad pulls all the right strings of emotional attachment with the occasion and the brand.  It is inspiring to watch and learn…

 

Power to customer

Image

A market place is a fine example of potential transactions but with asymmetric information. It simply means that the information available to buyers is different or mostly insufficient than the information available to the sellers. The general perception about this gap would be that it’ll insinuate purchase reluctance in buyers if the sellers don’t bridge this information gap. But for this to happen, the customer needs to be aware of the information deficiency which more than often never happens! However, it is interesting to see how this “unexploited value” gives buyers and sellers an incentive to capture that value. And this my friends is the genesis of Marketing Signaling and Screening…a power foreplay of buyers and sellers that had influenced product sales ones but now has changed gears.

Sellers with high quality products need ways to signal the quality of their products so that buyers can distinguish between high-quality and low-quality products. Before we consider this ideal situation, it’s important to realize that there are no fair rules in marketing. A seller would very much want to signal the high product/service qualities but what if it has none? well…the seller can still promise all the big stuff quality and features which for the time being only he knows isn’t true. Buyers must find ways to screen out erroneous information but allow in truthful information. This may not seem very relevant for products which can be easily evaluated or are low involvement like vegetables, soaps but think about the time when you bought a new refrigerator or an air conditioner.

Traditional form of marketing is highly Signaling driven. Remember the print Ads and television commercials which bragged about their product features and how they are the best in the market. They had everything in it for you to believe them and we did!

                              

It was partly because the product value proposition mirrored consumer needs but for most of the time it was because just a one way communication. There was no way the company would answer an individual’s concern before buying that product and so we felt…may be they are right. The scope of screening was very less unless the company salesmen were at your door step to demonstrate or give eye popping warranty for it.

In today’s marketing scenario, with the advent of social media marketing the play field has been leveled for both the players. Social media marketing has helped in completing the communication cycle by including the buyers in every step of the transaction (information and goods). Today the companies on social media platforms cannot just get away with false claims and product featuring. In no time the customer can track them down and inquire about what ever is in their mind out in the open. The ball now is in the seller’s court and they are bound to respond to the query or comment. If they don’t…customer has successfully screened them out and if they can survive the screening the customer gets the best bet. All in all customer has emerged as the powerful end of this marketing evolution and it is expected out of the customer to make the most out of it.