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In an industry where little differentiates one marketing company from another, infūz was determined to set itself apart from the field. infūz would not be just another web marketing company.
In interviews, marketing executives said that interactive marketing was not adding much to sales results. Rather than consulting interactive agencies, marketers were encouraging their ad agencies to direct interactive agencies and programs. Therefore, interactive marketing was seldom tied in to other forms of marketing, decreasing its effectiveness and reinforcing the perception that interactive marketing is not effective. Most often, interactive marketing was not considered as a serious element of the marketing mix.
Our consultant’s challenge was to overcome this perception, earn a seat at the marketing strategy table and differentiate ourselves from other interactive agencies.
The first step was to define the competencies of the people of infūz. The company had career brand marketers on staff — Katie O’Dell had launched and managed pet food brands as a brand marketer for Nestlé Purina Petcare Company. Software analysts and developers on staff had a range of certifications and experience developing web-based applications. So infūz leveraged its consumer packaged goods experience and focused on developing relationships with marketing and brand executives there.
Our consultant developed a visual summary of the infūz value proposition. Then he and infūz met together with brand executives and marketers to listen to what they liked and didn’t like about their interactive agency relationships. Customers helped us tailor the value proposition by reacting to the story depicted in the sketches.
In interviews, marketing executives said they were unhappy with agencies whose opaque technical and creative approaches seemed disjoined from a brand’s marketing goals. Marketers questioned the value they received for maintenance and retainer fees which seemed disjointed from a brand’s objectives and unrelated to separately billed tactical marketing programs. This “Pain” played nicely to infūz’s marketing experience and technical processes.
From the interviews, our consultant revised the value proposition and tested it with customers. Customer’s dissatisfaction with the typical agency model became apparent. Differentiation strategies emerged. To its credit, infūz allowed the customer’s definition of value to largely drive staffing and technology investments. It became apparent that truly differentiating infūz would require significant investment in people and infrastructure, investments that the company has made.
As value proposition and capabilities came online, we developed sales process and tools to support it. Our consultant and the principals of infūz used the tools to bring in early sales and flesh out the sales model.
As infūz built up its capabilities, marketing executives who had provided input invited us back to address their specific needs. Research meetings were gradually superseded by sales calls, and agency of record assignments began closing.