We can’t just TELL and SELL – it’s time to A E I O U

How does a business respond to the new significantly expanded requirements placed on marketing, sales and customer services under the Consumer Protection Act??

Traditionally sales and marketing has been dominated by what I call a “tell and sell” approach – in other words we have a product or service that we seek to actively tell the market about and then sell to the market. The focus of marketing activities has been based on an unintentional “marginally” adversarial model – an “us” (the business) versus “them” (the customer). I say “marginally” because this has never been the intention – it is simply the result of standard business practice.

Sure there have been a huge range of initiatives and models that are “customer focussed”, “consumer centric” and focus on the “needs of the consumer” and the “relationship” business has with their customers – and many of these have been valid and successful.

Now however more is required (required by law – not just by good business practice)!

The Consumer Protection Act requires all businesses to go way beyond a “tell and sell” marketing model – in fact a completely new way of thinking and operating is required.

A new approach summed up in the following framework can ensure that a business is more closely aligned with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act (in both spirit and letter).

The following steps are part of this overall framework:

–          Ask

–          Educate

–          Inform

–          Optimise

–          Undertake

We call this the AEIOU model – focusing on the core issues, like vowels are the core elements in many languages…

In all likelihood every business is doing some of this, to some extent. To succeed in the new Consumer Protected environment however all businesses are going to need to increase their skills in all these areas…

How can I start?

–          Map out all interactions with your customers;

–          Properly understand your current business model – how do you actually sell, what factors impact your sales and marketing interactions;

–          Run some workshops internally to help you understand some of these issues;

–          Run some external workshops (with your customers/target market) to better understand what they think of your product or service;

–          Think creatively of different ways you can provide information to your customers about your product/service/company etc – without necessarily “selling” to them;

–          Understand what consumers really need to know to “buy” your product – then figure out the best way to tell or inform them in a way that they can fully comprehend;

–          Review your entire marketing, sales and customer service chain/channel in terms of

  • The people (are the right people in the right positions – are they properly incentivised, in way that promotes compliance)
  • The processes (are the processes robust and effective and do they promote the right behaviour – within your business)

–          Elaborate/Spell out exactly what you are selling (products and services – broadly defined as everything that you do in an interaction with a consumer). Is what you are selling the same thing that the consumer is buying (facts and perceptions)? Are you fulfilling every undertaking within your offering – again is this the same as consumers are expecting to receive based on what you are telling them…

For more information and MORE IMPORTANTLY practical assistance in the implementation of the AEIOU model please do not hesitate to contact us on roger@sinkorswim.co.za.

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