Not all people tell the truth. Some complaints might be coming from elsewhere without realizing. Great marketing professionals can use their insight and experience to understand where the real issues are coming from to execute and take the company to the next level.
I've been able to find out the real issues/pains/problems within a project by asking questions from different angles. This process was established by getting a lot of complaints and requests during my career. I quickly developed five ways to determine where there were issues.
With my many corporate experiences, I learned it takes time and effort at the beginning, but this strategy ultimately helps to increase sales, expand the distribution channel, and save time and money.
One toy company I worked for had the development and HQ function in the U.S. One country's marketing team told me that they did not like the global unit packaging which the global brand team developed and requested to develop a completely new 3-in-1 packaging. In that new packaging they wanted to add a book. Furthermore, they requested to launch it one month early.
We showed the development progress to the marketing team many times, and used all of the development budget. During that time, no subsidiaries had anything against the packaging. We had little time left for their ideal launching schedule. The executives rejected the request.
We did a lot of analysis and communications. We were able to increase sales in that market for this item after the analysis and approval from the executives.
How did we do that? I found out where the request came from. The team just wanted the lower unit pricing because they got buyer feedback that the price was too high. And we realized that in their market, their competitor's pricing was lower. If they added a book to the new packaging, it would be an added value and they could hit back-to-school season, too.
Although the price was still challenging, we were able to amortize the extra development cost because of the significant sales increase vs forecast by the 3-in-1 packaging.
There was a lot of work. We double-checked all the people on board to support this plan from different perspectives—production capacity, tooling schedule, logistic schedule, commitment from their buyers, packaging development schedule, book development and assembly process, and so on. In the process, the sales team was able to get the purchasing commitment from new retailers (bookstores) because of the book.
As a result, we were able to have everyone on board not only internally but external buyers as well, and we were able to support their request and had a 250% sales increase.
This experience helped me formulate my five steps that I use to determine where the real issues are coming from based on complaints and requests.
Here's how your marketing team can do the same.
5 Steps To Determine Where The Issues Are Coming From
1. Ask "Why?"
If you ask "why?" five times, you'll eventually figure out the essential issues.
2. Determine People & Place
Who is complaining and where are they located? Put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand the challenges or problems they could be facing.
3. Figure Out The Process
How can you help them? Tools, investments, time, or money?
4. Find Numbers To Focus On For Evaluation
You'll know when you've accomplished your goal if you have numbers to strive for.
5. List Who Needs To Get Involved
Think about all the people that need to get involved and make them aware—internally and/or externally.
In marketing, complaints and requests are a great chance to learn and make improvements. There is room for marketing/market share/sales growth if we understand the situation and change our approach.
At the beginning, it might take a long time to understand the situation and plan better strategies, but it will result in increasing sales/market share or cost savings.
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