Card with the text: Time to Sell

At my most recent previous employer, I learned that the hardest part of any marketing project can be “selling” your ideas to others to get others to work for you rather than against you. Being able to present ideas in an organized manner that specifically points out the benefits of adoption of the concept is crucial to both getting approval for the concept and to get others to help implement the proposal so that the marketing campaign can be successful.

While working for one the nation’s top internet retailers of electronics, I noticed that we were always getting calls about a year or so after the purchase of major, big ticket electronics such as plasma and LCD TVs and high end stereo receivers with inquiries about how to buy extended warranties on these expensive items. Sadly, many of these calls were placed after the original manufacturer’s warranty was no longer in effect. Unfortunately one of the main requirements to purchase extended warranty coverage in the electronics industry is that the item still be covered under the original warranty when the extended warranty is purchased.

It seemed to me that this was an area that my company could take the lead in our industry by proactively contacting customers before their coverage expired and offering them extended warranty coverage. Since my company prided itself in offering the best customer service in our industry, this seemed to be an idea that would not only help our customers and provide a service to them, but we could then use the fact that we were now offering this service to better advertise and market our position as a leader in customer service in our specific industry.

I wrote up my suggestions, including a cost-benefit analysis, as a detailed four page document and submitted it to the director of the facility as well as the marketing and customer service vice presidents of the company. My proposal was that the company would begin listing the option to purchase extended warranty coverage on each item’s individual sales landing page on our website, as well as automatically contacting our customers by email to remind them about purchasing extended warranty coverage at the time of the sale, 30 days into the sale, and by email and letter 60 days prior to their coverage lapsing. The thought was that this would help to end those difficult customer support calls where customers called after the lapse of their original manufacturer’s warranty and became angry because the company didn’t “warn them” them that their coverage would expire soon.

The main cost of implementing this approach involved man hours for reprogramming many of the company’s sales landing pages and man hours to compose the automated emails and letters that would go out to customers at 30 days after the sale and 60 days prior to end of coverage.

Even if only 10 percent of customers took the advice and purchased extended warranty coverage through the company, this was still additional sales revenue for the company as well as a bonus to the company’s public relations as the company could now market itself as providing more caring customer service that looked after the needs of its customers as compared to the company’s competitors.

At the time that I made my proposal, it was the beginning of “The Great Recession,” and businesses were looking for ways to boost the potential for sales. At the time, while many websites of electronics retailers might offer extended warranties on some of their products, and manufacturers might contact a customer provided they registered online or filled out that easily lost registration card, no one was proactively contacting customers after the sale to remind them about extended warranty coverage.

With the high cost of some digital cameras, LCD and plasma TVs and more, having an extended warranty in place should something go wrong was a good idea for both customers and retailers. My idea was approved and rolled out company wide.

I worked with the company’s web developers to write the text that would now be on the company’s website for the sales landing pages, as well as created the copy for the automated emails and letters that went out to customers to remind them to purchase extended warranty coverage before the original manufacturer’s warranty lapsed. This took about eight weeks to complete, and involved virtually collaborating with many individuals in various departments. One of the main things that I learned while working with others to create and develop this project is the unbelievable amount of corporation that is necessary from individuals across many different departments to get a project of this scope and size to work. At any point, any “stone walling” from any group involved in the effort could have ended the project.

Ultimately all parts of the project came together with very good results. The company increased the sale of total extended warranties sold by over 30% percent within six months of the implementation. At the end of the year, when customers were independently surveyed about their satisfaction with the company, over 37 percent specifically mentioned the new proactive contact reminding them to purchase extended warranties as one of the main reasons why they “trusted” the company and why they would purchase again from this company instead of other electronics retailers. The resulting trust and good will that was generated by this effort then became one of the focal points of future marketing and advertising efforts of the company. The ability to generate customers’ “trust” in a company or product is often the key to any successful marketing effort of any company. It doesn’t matter how great a company’s product or service is if customers do not trust the company.

My experience in suggesting an idea that was later adopted by a large national company, and my direct involvement in its development and execution was very valuable. I learned a great deal during this project, not only about the right way to go about making a professional proposal to “sell” my ideas to others to get others “on board” to ensure its adoption, but I also learned firsthand how time consuming and how necessary it is to foster cooperation among different working groups to successfully develop a marketing and advertising concept for any organization. My experiences with this company and expertise that I developed in later business ventures laid the groundwork for my current employment’s focus on internet marketing strategies.

Extra: great image that describes customer decision making process

Klaas

 

 

The Hardest Part of Marketing is Often Knowing How to ‘Sell’ Your Concept to Decision Makers

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