Expert's Panel

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    How often should supplier product marketing managers go see key customers? Any rule of thumb?

  1. More than less. If you are a product marketing person and you are not in the field three or four times every quarter that is a real problem. If you are spending six straight months in the office you are not really a marketing person.
  2. I would change that into a percent of your time and say it should be 25%. Iíve learned that I donít get too smart sitting in the office. It is the face-to-face opportunities that enlighten me. If you have an opportunity to see a key customer and you can bring some value to the situation, take it. If you can make your customer a little smarter or wiser, even if it is not about your product, he will remember your favor in the future.
  3. If you have a customer that is coming into your facility for an audit, demonstration, or whatever, make sure you have an opportunity to sit down with him. That is a good source for interaction.
  4. I had a boss who told me that the number of customers who will walk off the street into your office and tell you what they want is the same number of elephants that will walk through your parking lot this year. Get out in the field. When you get back communicate with everyone what you found, especially your boss. Remind people, from a marketing point-of-view, this is what I am learning. Waiting until you publish a report at end of several months of a year may be too late for the company to act. If you keep them informed, they will know why you were out in the field, rather than being in the office supposedly doing something useful, and they will start looking for your information reports.