Marketing – Covering all the bases


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Recently, I had the chance to speak with a marketing director of a large HVAC distributor. I asked her where she focuses her time and budget in terms of selecting marketing avenues to promote their products and services. Her response was that essentially, she needs to cover all bases. And while there may be validity to being heavily engaged with social media and internet driven marketing channels, abandoning the tried and true legacy avenues of the past would be a mistake. Her buying public is very much a divided entity with respect to age, buying habits and expectations.

While today’s Millennial / Gen X buyer is all about ordering online with as little human interaction as possible, Baby Boomer buyers grew up with a different approach to buying. Remember the 1980’s and 1990’s when it seemed the corporate buzzwords were about ‘service’ and ‘quality’? Corporations, large and small, placed significant investment instilling those concepts within their respective corporate cultures. Failure to provide personal service often resulted in a stream of clients headed for the door. And business always started with the personal relationship recognizing that “nothing happens until something is sold” mentality. ‘Buying’ was based on one-on-one personal relationships developed between the buyer and the seller. But the creation and maintenance of those relationships did indeed cost time and money from both the seller and the buyer. So technology helped change that game.

Videoconferencing technologies targeted and reduced airline travel. Telephone system Automated Attendants replaced human operators. Email pretty much eliminated letter writing and changed the way we corresponded. Fax, voice mail are becoming archaic forms of communication. And then there’s the internet and its ability to pretty much eliminate any need for a personal relationship and its associated cost. Or did it? The aforementioned market director thinks not. While so much of the population, included the elderly, enjoy shopping online for a product or service, there are areas that online shopping falls short is when a conversation simply needs to occur and would ease the transaction anxiety. Sometimes, folks just tire of looking at screens, creating and maintaining online ID’s passwords, and painfully tabbing through FAQ’s or pages of product descriptions online only to not find what they were seeking. Their eyes start to hurt. The answers are buried who knows where, or maybe they aren’t clear and require clarification. My personal experience on many occasions is that I can get a better answer……quicker…..if I just make the call to a warm body. Yet other times, I have found online self service to be the best answer.

The key here is that there are variables that dictate which method is better. The marketing director’s strategy was to be absolutely sure she was allowing the buyer make the decision on how they like to buy, and that by forcing buyers to communicate with her corporation’s preferred avenue, was merely forcing and driving behavior of her buyer that may force them to another supplier that offered that flexibility. Corporations are furiously trying to push buyers to behave in conformance with the corporations preference of interaction and many of them are paying for this decision, even after they calculate expenses displaced. Remember the initial aggressive moves to push account servicing / help desk services to call centers overseas ? That move, while prudent and successful for some companies, was nearly fatal for others that underestimated their buyers. So in summary, what I heard from the marketing director was that she was intent on covering all of her bases with her marketing efforts, because her buyer was between 25 and 75 years old, and had a seriously wide variance in demographics.

It’s interesting that those of us that are parents often reprimand or badger our children for texting incessantly, avoiding one on one conversation, yet we are all about reducing spoken conversation when it comes to business communication.

Rich Moncure
Since our inception in 1989, On Hold Marketing has grown from a regional studio to a national provider of music and messaging for On Hold and In Store marketing. Being small keeps us nimble and responsive. Our customers eventually get to know all of us on a first name basis, and during business hours your call will be answered by one of us...yes, a real live person.


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