How to Shape Customer Perceptions
The in-plant customer can be an enigma—aware of the in-plant's existence while at the same time ignoring it entirely. More times than not, this attitude is born of perceptions that are usually inaccurate.
The May 2013 IPG article "A New Strategy in Minnesota" reveals how the University of Minnesota dealt with this situation. The operation came to the realization that an in-plant must do the same things all small businesses do: establish a brand, a reputation and a marketing plan to entice customers to think of the in-plant as the supplier of choice. In short, the in-plant's management team acknowledged that they needed to change their operation and alter customer perceptions.
While the in-plant may have the tools and skills to maintain relevance, the customer may disagree—not necessarily due to lack of skills and tools, but because of the customer's perception of issues the in-plant may not be aware of. In other words, how does an in-plant use internal marketing to mold the perception that will increase sales?
An internal marketing effort to change customer perception requires a strategy and tools employing the following three steps:
- External Assessment
- Internal Assessment
Determining who is a good prospect is a critical ingredient to a successful marketing effort. It first begins with an assessment of current customers/prospects, what their needs are and how well they are being met.
Typically, in the in-plant environment, there are two categories: saints and sinners. Those who use the in-plant are the saints and those who do not are...well, you know. While this classification is humorous, it is necessary to know why those two groups exist. Plus, an assessment of the current customers/prospects will determine what growth potential is available and where you have been successful.
Related story: Change and Thrive