Essential components of a winning game plan


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There is nothing like a major life event to highlight a positive experience on behalf of a company providing an important service.

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There is nothing like a major life event to highlight a positive experience on behalf of a company providing an important service.

For example, a funeral is an incredibly stressful and emotional family event where grief can be extremely high. As you honour the person who has
recently passed away, you count on the funeral home to assist you with all your planning details and arrangements.

Recently, my mother-in-law passed away just days short of her 92nd birthday. She was an exceptional mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. To provide the appropriate celebration of her life and comfort to her family, we needed the services of a professional funeral director.

The way that the funeral home staff oversaw our family’s needs is a lesson in marketing excellence. Marketing excellence is the output from a
properly constructed and executed winning game plan. Nobody wants just a winning game plan, especially in the context of an emotional event such as a funeral.

They want the results of a winning game plan. Because of the focus on delivering a superior customer experience, success results from the application and delivery of all elements — physical and emotional — that the customer values.

In this specific example, the crucial elements included proper care of, and respect for, my mother-in-law, transportation from one city to another in an adjoining province, ensuring the provision of the cultural and religious aspects both during and after the service, and providing guidance on the administration details. All of this completed in less than one week, remotely, efficiently, and with an overall air of compassion and support for the family.

The funeral home staff also accommodated our request for an after-service and interment luncheon, provided catering, and allowed the family dog to be present at the burial site.

While the concept of a winning game plan may appear emotionless for something like a funeral, I suggest that creating superior value for your customer is really the heart of the concept. Therefore, the first step in any winning game plan to enable a firm to create marketing excellence is a proper and thorough understanding of your customer and how they need and use your service.

Your experience will help you anticipate the initial customer need and then what the customer could potentially need. Often, these additional considerations are not clearly articulated in such a major family event. How does an organization deliver on what are wide ranging needs for each individual funeral?

Crystal Bailey, continuing care co-ordinator of Bailey’s Funeral Homes in Yorkton, says that “We approach every family with kindness and compassion because they are experiencing a heart-breaking event and the most difficult time in their lives in our presence. This kind approach enables us to listen with our hearts and respond to the needs of the family rather than directing them in a way that may have been done traditionally.

“Additionally, we treat every family like they are one of our own and like we would want to be treated. While we rely upon our deep understanding of grief and its many forms, we remain open to unique and creative ideas each time we meet with a family in order to create a meaningful, healing experience.”

Knowing your customer better is the essential first step in any winning game plan. This means understanding their actual needs, how they use or will use your product or service, and what they expect as the value they receive.

Delivering superior customer value is when you know the intimate customer needs and what can be additive to deliver on a higher level. This is not easy and is always an ongoing requirement. When so many aspects of your delivered product are customizable, as with funeral services, you must be tracking and collecting all the things you do that people appreciate and have them ready for future application.

Superior companies deliver on their customer needs thus improving the lifetime connection and the value you can receive from them. They know the “key” customer needs and what they value.

This requires that everyone in your organization understands the importance of taking care of every detail, no matter how small it might seem to you. Remember, this is about the customer because they will determine if you stay in business or become a faded memory in your business category.

Tim’s bits: Step one in a winning game plan is building your knowledge and insights around your customer and how they use your product or service. This collection of past experiences into a game plan is not, in and of itself, the key to winning. Proper application and attention to details will help you deliver the superior value that creates marketing excellence by targeting the customers that want the expertise that you have.

Next month, we will focus on creating a value proposition to build off your customer foundation.

Tim Kist is a Certified Management Consultant, authorized by law, and a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Manitoba.


Tim Kist

Tim Kist

Tim is a certified management consultant with more than two decades of experience in various marketing and sales leadership positions.

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