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How do you stay connected to what your clients REALLY need from you?

If you are a marketing professional, how do you stay tuned to the dual role you have?

On the one hand, you help the organization to connect more efficiently with their customer base.

If your clients are anything like mine, they probably know they need help with:

  • finding ways to increase the volume of work done for each client
  • increasing the longevity of each client relationship
  • identifying which clients are most profitable and where we might find more like them
  • clarifying which clients are least profitable and either find economical ways to serve them or ways to share the work potential with others who could serve them more efficiently
  • providing solid and tangible discussion ideas to fuel conversations with clients and prospects (based on research and market trends)
  • Making it easy/easier to stay in touch with existing clients by providing tools and systems to provoke connections

On the other hand, you are uniquely placed to help your internal clients develop the knowledge, skills and business acumen they need to serve their client base profitably.

That makes marketing both a functional expertise and a means for aligning strategy and organizational culture.

  • Helping to coordinate activities more effectively across the business, so we amplify rather than duplicate efforts
  • Helping to determine which behaviours enhance the firm’s reputation and contribute towards the organizations strategic goals, and which behaviours are holding them back
  • Helping to develop trust and respect for each other’s contribution and expertise so they can confidently broaden relationships with our clients across different practices or business units
  • Helping to establish more systematic and disciplined approached to the ways they initiate, build and deepen relationships with clients

Just as you might implement listening posts, market research and client feedback tools for your external clients, are you doing the same for your internal clients?

Do you invest time and energy in getting to understand your employers business model? Do you know how they make money and stay profitable? Do you spend time watching them in action, delivering product or service to their clients? Do you attend sales calls with them, or get to know how the products are developed so you can advise how and where they might improve coordination and efficiency?

What are the ways you stay connected to what your clients really need from you?

Sign me up to move mountains every time…

In a recent panel discussion at The Executive Roundtable about switching gears and changing careers mid-path, Colleen Albiston, Global Head of Tax Marketing for KPMG memorably stated that she focuses on turnarounds, new growth and marketing change…adding “I’m not your maintenance gal…” Colleen comes from a place of truly knowing where she adds value, and where she can do her best work. I love this very real and honest self-appraisal of what she is and isn’t about.  Very Buckingham-like.

When considering a change in role, Colleen urged the movers and shakers in the room to be absolutely clear what is expected, what changes the business really needs (not just what the say they want). Help the leaders get past their ‘planitudes’ (it is written in the plan, therefore it is…) and into the reality of what the changes are going to mean for them and their teams.

I confess, I subscribe to the Colleen Albiston school of thinking. I would far rather move mountains; take on big challenges; shine a light on what needs to change and what the implications of change might mean; go into a tough situation with eyes wide open; than step into an established role with a clear set of guidelines and benchmarked success rules to follow. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment but that’s just my bag. Its the explorer in me – I have a propensity for change that flies off the scale in most psychometric tests!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I fully respect and honour tradition, legacy and the wisdom of time-tested methods, as long as they remain relevant and adaptive to new circumstances.  “Survival of the fittest” was an idea founded in successful adaptation to changing environments rather than change for the sake of it. A successfully adaptive organism may remain unchanged for many years provided the environment remains the same.

In the same discussion, the other panelists offered equally insightful perspectives on shifting (or staying true to) career focus… check here for a summary of the key takeaways…