Create a strategic marketing plan with customer references

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I was recently discussing with a client the idea of creating strategic marketing plans with selected customers. Instead of asking an individual person for help as a customer reference, this is going big and folding it into the marketing strategies of both companies.

The approach involves gathering key stakeholders from multiple marketing disciplines to create an integrated plan and laying out a proposal that adds value to the brands of both companies.

Participants in the initiative would generally include PR, Product Marketing, Product Management, Advertising, and other Marketing Communications types.

Clients presented with this proposal should be carefully chosen based on timing, brand fit, and access to key executives.

The proposal should lay out all the activities at once, presenting it in a manner that highlights the mutual benefits to the brands of both companies. Don’t make it an all or nothing proposition. For best results, encourage participants to select those activities that match their goals. Refine the proposal together.

Yes, companies that have significant brand equity already may be able to apply more leverage to the discussion. However, the point of this approach is to elevate the discussion from an ad hoc request to one with mutual benefit. Emphasize the investment your company is willing to make into the effort and then be prepared to discuss the anticipated results of the campaign elements.

In an economic environment where marketing budgets are being reduced, the ability to show your customers a way to increase their brand visibility with minimal investment on their part becomes a more interesting proposition.

They key to this approach is to take the reference request from one of “a favor” to a more formal marketing effort. To do this, it must include the right stakeholders and be treated as such.

Use strategic marketing plans to open up marketing opportunities that might otherwise have been missed.

Joshua Horwitz
Boulder Logic
Joshua Horwitz is president and a founder at Boulder Logic, a company specializing in customer reference management. Companies with complex products and selling cycles rely on Boulder Logic for an easy-to-deploy, highly customizable enterprise solution to accelerate sales and marketing using their existing customers. Blog: http://referencesuccess.com

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