Dear Tig,

For the past year I've been fighting an up-hill battle. I'm the director of marketing communications for a specialized computer company of 40 people. I'm the only marketing-oriented person here, and I'm surrounded by tech-heads who consider marketing a frivolous hassle.

The problem is, some of these tech-heads are key communication players with our customer base (e.g., tech support and training), and they're attitude and dismissal of my corporate identity efforts contribute to the fact that we have only 30 percent customer retention, even though we have only one direct competitor. Help,

Stygian Stableboy

Dear Stableboy,

There are two ways to correct this problem, one hard and one easy. The easy way is to tie the compensation of the tech-heads to customer retention. All raises at the company should be performance ties to the individuals' direct clients. If they keep 30 percent of their clients, they keep only 30 percent of their raises. The harder way would be to teach them the grand benefits of marketing discipline, and frankly, this is something that requires a certain lack of cynicism that excludes most tech people. If the marketing affected their world in a direct way, you might make some headway in showing them a benefit, but to be honest, it doesn't affect their world in a way they are likely to perceive. As the person running marketing, you alone will be unable to coop that tech relationship unless you add a layer of (properly educated) client service people between the customer and the techies.


Dear Tig,

I've never been in a market where the end users seem so impervious to promotional campaigns. The previous marketing guy at my computer services company did a mailing of 50,000 well-designed cards to a very targeted market and received a .0005 percent response rate, none of which resulted in sales! You could mail trash and get more of a reaction. As we sell services to a narrow niche, I tried an ad in a well-liked trade rag with exposure to 154,000 -– only to get ten leads, one of which resulted in a meager sale.

How do you penetrate a market that doesn't seem to open its eyes to any outside influence? I don't have a research budget to directly ask the market.

Gratefully yours,


Dear Sisyphus,

Marketers often find business-to-business markets tough to target, not the least because businesses are inundated with marketing clutter. That list your company bought may well have been used to send those same people 300 other well-designed cards for other companies over the past two months, which could easily explain a 0.0005 percent response rate.

Especially with a niche player like your company, the information flow tends to initiate with the customer rather than from the vendor. When the customer needs something, they look for a service, but they do not prospectively keep track of vendors until that time. This calls for a different sort of marketing that de-emphasizes outreach media and focuses on having the messaging in those places where people seek services.

There's more than one way to roll a rock up a hill. I bet your customers go online and look for services using search engines. You should be considering paid search listings. You should also make sure your website looks a good deal better than your competitors'.

If your services concentrate in a region, you should consider yellow pages advertising. Trade rags are good too, but the flashy full-page advertising may not be the sort of presence you most require. That money could be better spent on a smaller classified or back-page section advertisement over the course of the entire year. When customers need those computer services, some will flip to that trade rag directory.

Subscribe's free!

MarketingProfs provides thousands of marketing resources, entirely free!

Simply subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to how-to articles, guides, webinars and more for nada, nothing, zip, zilch, on the house...delivered right to your inbox! MarketingProfs is the largest marketing community in the world, and we are here to help you be a better marketer.

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin


Tig Tillinghast writes from the banks of the Elk River near Chesapeake City, Maryland. He consults with major brands and ad agency holding companies, helping marketing groups find the right resources for their needs. He is the author of The Tactical Guide to Online Marketing as well as several terrible fiction manuscripts.