In almost every industry, there’s a competitor that almost no one wants to tangle with. It’s been around forever, has become the 800-pound gorilla in its field, and has gobbled up more of the market than anyone thought possible.
In the sales and marketing world, this is Salesforce, and given its current bottom line, the immense towers it’s built in cities like San Francisco and other locations, and its sheer presence after 19 years in the business, it might be enough to make potential competitors look over their business plans, shrug, and wonder aloud about selling seeds by mail for a living. And yet, competitors persist.
Competing with a dominant rival is all a matter of perspective. David Charest, the director of content marketing with Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) a company that competes with Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud offering, says his company focuses on what it does best in the SMB field.
“With small businesses, earning that trust is critical and we do not take our relationships for granted,” said Charest. “We capture the voice of the customer through a variety of channels, from transactional data to customer support, to surveys and focus groups, as well as events and webinars. Consistent interaction with our customers is a key to success on our marketing platforms, whether it’s our new broadcast ad campaign, blog, or social channels.
“Technology advancements are coming fast and furious, particularly in the area of data and the customer insights we can glean from them to gain a competitive advantage,” said Charest, who’s been with Constant Contact for more than seven years. He added that even if Constant Contact does have to go up against giants like Salesforce on a day-to-day basis, digital tools have helped level the playing field. “The opportunity to communicate just the right message, to just the right customer or prospect, at just the right time represents a seismic shift in marketing.”
Daniel Caplin, President of WhatCounts (www.whatcounts.com), a Georgia-based marketing software competitor, is also upbeat about competing with giants.
“We are extensions of our client’s marketing organization, and align with them to produce measurable results through the email channel and beyond,” said Caplin. “It’s our ability to be flexible, help our customers work with our software in the ways that best fit their unique business flows, which allow us to successfully compete and thrive against any of the large enterprise suites like Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, Adobe, etc.”
Perhaps most key to Constant Contact’s strategy, according to Charest, is to combine the technologies available to a firm and keep it personal from there. That includes ensuring compatibility with Salesforce.
“We work with partners like Cazoomi and Zapier to offer an integration that allows customers to automatically add leads and contacts from Salesforce to Constant Contact, creating a powerful marketing contact list for any sized business,” said Charest, who added that “a personalized communications flow lends an authentic voice to a business’ communications, and that authenticity breeds customer loyalty and fires up the referral engine.”
Caplin said businesses need to focus on engaging with their customers.
“There is a lot more noise and competition for engagement. There are many more channels by which to engage a customer or prospect,” he said. “Be it email, SMS, social, chat, direct mail, display … the message and engagement need to reflect the medium and the best format for the end user to engage.”
Focusing on customer communication can give businesses a boost in sales. Thanks to a competitive marketplace, there are many tools available to businesses that want to engage with customers.