Customer Service is the New Advertising

Advertising is expensive.

People in the business world know the above statement very well, on all relative planes whether your advertising budget is one million dollars or five thousand dollars. We also know that the ROI on your advertising depends on many factors, not just the amount of money you 5-bill-gates-myths-2invest into it. We also know that ROI is not guaranteed. Ever. To be able to advertise effectively to accomplish your marketing goals is a pandora’s box of research, knowledge of your target audience, risk, foreshadowing and company symmetry. Most small business owners cannot afford to hire an advertising agency that can help communicate your unique business proposition in a MORE effective way than just placing an ad in a newspaper, TV or on the internet. Most advertising agencies have the marketing acumen to know and suggest that companies need to do more than just put a call-to-action in an advertisement. There are many things that go into an advertising campaign:

Vision and Goals

Solid communication through visuals and taglines

Follow through of your message

Compounding advertising success with more investing into which strategies that work and jettison strategies that don’t work

Getting your entire company behind the advertising message to promote cohesiveness within and showcasing it externally

I could list a hundred of more things that go into an effective advertising campaign, but I won’t because I am sure you get the gist of what I’m listing. Now, most business owners think that slapping a crappy B/W ad into a local newspaper will bring a windfall of new customers and new profits. But when it doesn’t yield a ROI, they will complain that advertising does not work. What they should be complaining about is their entire marketing strategy.

How much does the average American business, with under 200 employees, budget for advertising?

Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees. – Tony Hsieh

This question has too many variables to come up with a definite answer. Marketing experts say that a business should budget approximately 8 to 10% of their annual revenue to marketing/advertising. So for arguments sake, lets take a company that has an annual revenue of $1,000,000 and budgets 8% to advertising and marketing. The company’s budget would be $80,000. Thats a decent advertising budget, and with a budget like that, many smart business people can do a lot of good things to bolster their bottom line. So what would 80k be invested in? Newspaper, tv, social media, google, website, email marketing…which are all good investments, as long as you go big or go home. You must go all the way with your advertising campaign and keep it consistent across the entire media spectrum. This will give you the best chance of success with your advertising investment.

What if?

What if, you take 50% of that advertising budget and invest it in non-traditional forms of marketing within the infrastructure of your business such as customer service? Taking time to diagnose your existing customer service and finding a non-traditional ways to improve it. The most important investment a company can make is investing in its employees. The human resource is the most important factor in a successful business. This takes many forms, such as improving employee relations by job enrichment, incentives and promoting a team philosophy where everybody within the company are all in it together. If you can make your employees buy-in to your company’s mission and sustain happy employees, your company is on a path of success. It takes time and is a long-term vision for success, but it is a very effective one. Other than investing in developing happier employees other things you can do to improve your company’s customer service are:

Invest in customer service training that practices the holistic marketing orientation, which promotes the thinking that every single aspect of the business is marketing. Everything. The way an employee answers the phone, the way the office looks to the outside world, social responsibility, how employees dress and on and on. Everything matters.

Invest in improving customer services infrastructure. This could mean updating your CRM, internal technology or any tool that employees use to help improve our customer’s experience.

Make your website more navigational friendly and interactive to your customer audience.

Create a sense of community with your customers with reward and loyalty programs.

Invest heavily into customer relations with your most profitable customer relationships, which could take on the form of anniversary gifts, discounts, golf etc.

Remember to smile and say thank you.

Adapt to the ever-changing business landscape and adapt your customer service accordingly.

I’ve just scratched the surface on things you can do to improve your company’s customer service. Maybe some of these ideas will spawn your own ideas on how to improve customer service….I would love to hear them. My hope from this blog post is mostly for you to rethink your budget when it comes to advertising and try something new! Invest in your employees and your company’s customer service!

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

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