Learning to Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk: The Importance of Understanding Your Client’s Business

A colleague and I recently had the opportunity to join one of our newest clients — Henny Penny, a foodservice equipment manufacturer based in Eaton, Ohio—for one of their on-site product training courses designed for distributors and other stakeholders.

It was an action-packed three days full of hands-on learning (and lots of cooking!) with their fryers, combi ovens, rotisseries and more, and we were sharing this experience with several of their distributors and new hires.

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Cheeseburger pizza from a combi? Yes, please!

The beauty of this? Well, besides the prime rib, lobster tails and perfectly fried chicken, this opportunity to get up close and personal with our client’s business was crucial to giving us the insight we need to truly understand and appreciate the product features and benefits we’re marketing to their customers. Plus, being able to hang out with a group of their distributors gave us an even better understanding of this core channel member’s unique needs.

Many of us in the marketing industry are experienced in just that — marketing. We know all about the “4 P’s.” We know how to communicate. We’re educated on best business practices. We know why it’s important to define and understand markets, channels and value propositions. But do we naturally understand the day-to-day business of the companies we’re charged with representing? Probably not—and that’s why it’s so important for marketing professionals to make a concentrated effort in learning as much as possible about each client’s business.

Otherwise, how can we be sure what we say rings true to who we’re talking to?

There are always plenty of opportunities to get a better grasp on the business you’re involved with. Attend internal meetings unrelated to marketing. Schedule a call with key customers or sales team members to ask about needs or challenges. Take a facility or plant tour. Participate in new hire training. Always read the trade pubs and stay abreast of industry news. Just be there, and keep learning!

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