Do you market a product, or do you market a service? The answer is “Both” and “Neither”. The line between product and service is blurred at best, especially in dental. They are intertwined. Features and benefits are indeed important. However, what we really have to offer to set us apart from our competitors is the total customer experience. This is true regardless of price, sales channel, or number of players in the category. Your customers’ experience with your brand and you will determine if they purchase (again), become a raving fan, or become a naysayer. This, of course, is not a novel concept.
Yet, when was the last time you put yourself in your customers’ shoes? I mean, really pondered about their experience with you, your brand, and your company. Every interaction they have, not just with you, is a reflection of the product/service you represent. Those interactions form their ultimate, lasting impression of you and your brand.
Take a few moments on a regular basis to track your brand’s customer experience. The experience starts with your marketing communications tactics. Are your MarCom messages and campaigns integrated? Do your ads, social media, video, etc. deliver consistent messaging to support the sales function?
So, potential customers have expressed interest through the marketing campaign. They’ve introduced themselves to you as a “lead”. How are they qualified? Once qualified, how are they engaged? Do you have a process in place to maximize the touches and experience provided to future customers in the “lead” stage?
Then think about the demonstration or seminar (if applicable) experience. What sets your brand apart? Is this step in the journey optimized to show your brand’s leadership in the category, or are you just going through the motions?
Next they’ve signed the order. Hooray! Don’t celebrate too long. Now’s the time when buyer’s remorse, inadequate practice integration, and confusion can set in to derail the experience. The next interactions are critical to setting the customer up for success with your brand and, in doing so, securing success for your brand. What steps do you have in place to train the customer, establish regular use of your product (make it a “habit”), and welcome the customer into your brand’s family? This is the time when you can make the customer experience so positive and powerful that they become a raving fan and begin to refer colleagues and friends to your brand.
Lastly, think about what happens once they’re on board and the brand is fully integrated into their practice. Are they forgotten or are they embraced and regularly engaged? Tactics such as e-mails/blogs, receptions at trade shows, and social media contests are simple ways to continue to add value to your customers and enhance their experience. As a side effect, you gain insights, testimonials, etc. from this enhanced relationship to fuel and augment future marketing campaigns. And the cycle repeats.
The process presented here is simplified. But the point is to regularly examine your marketing – lead – prospect – customer – marketing cycle. Ensure it generates a positive brand experience. Regardless of the features and benefits of what you are marketing, the goal is to build a strong relationship with your customers to where your brand is not just a product or service, but rather a partner to your customers. Once your brand experience evolves into a sense of partnership with your customers, then you know you’re on the right track. Do you market a product, or do you market a service? Does it really matter? Build a brand experience. Become a partner to your customers.