Q: What was PHI doing to promote its industrial products?
A: Like many small companies, it was doing “spray and pray” marketing. It was blasting out mailings, phone calls and sales reps visits and results were not living up to its expectations. It had set a goal of growing the company to twice the size in two years and realized that this kind of marketing was not moving the needle.
Q: What was your approach?
A: The first step that we took was to conduct voice of customer research to understand from customers and prospects what attributes they are looking for from a provider of products like PHI’s and let customers set their own preferences. We did one-hour telephone interviews and asked 35-40 questions to find out how a customer wants different channels to work. These included telephone sales, field sales, technical service, Web and stores. We [ended up with about] 60 hours of interviews with 60 existing and inactive customers and used these responses to rethink how these five channels were being used. Then we began the engagement and self-profiling process with other customers.
Q: How did you get people to agree to do an hour interview?
A: For people for whom a product or service has any level of relevance, it is in their self-interest to provide input about making the product better. And, in the recruiting process, we offered a nominal thank you with a $50 off coupon to be respectful that it is an hour of their time.
Q: What did you do with the research?
A: The research said PHI needed to provide added value. We defined value added as technical information and training to differentiate the product from other vendors of pneumatic and hydraulic products. From the research, we created hydraulic and pneumatic training workshops in stores.
Q: What were the results?
A: We increased the attendance at training events by 10 times over past events of this kind.
Q: What are the key takeaways?
A: When you engage the customer, they are willing to opt in and self-profile a great deal of information about their preferences, interests, budget cycle and media preference