What It Is That's Often Missing When Marketing Fails

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Marketing departments continually express frustration that despite their best efforts to create sound programs, engaging designs and compelling copy, success can often be elusive.

Usually, what is missing when marketing programs fail is the second half of the equation: sales. No matter how hard marketing works to create interest, unless prospects are sold on the floor, there will be fewer new member signups, and current members will not purchase additional services and products. In short, marketing can only open the door. Sales, i.e. member contact staff, have to close it.

Conversely, if marketing is to create programs that capture the interest of members, it pays to involve member contact staff. Here's an example. When a credit union recently tested a new relationship-pricing program by asking the opinions of experienced front line staff, the employees pointed out two major problems:

1) The program as designed was, "the worst of both worlds." Only individuals of limited means would be interested in the program's benefits, yet could not qualify for it. 2) The only members who could qualify were high net-worth individuals who would not find value in the benefits.

The concept was inconsistent with the institution's sales goals. Whether or not the members would have liked the program, member contact staff would not have been motivated to sell it because it did not correlate with their compensation structure.

By getting input from the sales staff before taking it to the members, the institution saved a half-million dollars.

Testing a marketing program with sales staff prior to implementation allows an institution to play defense before investing significantly in an offense. However, this gameplan only works when feedback is provided in an environment that encourages candor and when the sales team has the tools (e.g., software, training) they need to close the doors opened by marketing.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at (310) 643-5910 or by email at ngoldman memberresearch.com

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