‘Spinach Marketing’ & The Voice of Customers

It is our responsibility – as business owners and managers, and especially those of us in the marketing discipline – to offer our customers what they need. Sometimes, however, we get caught up in our own ‘worlds’ and we think we know what our customers want, or worse yet, we think we know what’s best for them. I call this ‘Spinach Marketing’, and you can think of it as an attitude of “Here… it’s good for you – Eat it!”. After all, if spinach wasn’t healthy, how many of us truly enjoy the taste and would still include it in our smoothies, salads, and omelets?

Duke Merhavy

Finding out what customers need is not very hard, but it does require attention and effort. It is also important to do so periodically, as customers’ preferences and requirements might change over time due to circumstances beyond our control.

To stay in tune with customer preferences, many companies engage in Voice of Customer (VoC, which is also known as ‘Voice of the Customer’) programs or projects. There are several ways to go about it; some formal, while others are not. The important point is to solicit direct and candid opinions from customers and potential customers about their needs, as they relate to the solution you offer. The focus of this endeavor is to gain qualitative information, not strictly quantitative data. You can learn more about the difference between those two types of findings in this month’s Marketing Lingo article below.

Here are some examples of how to collect voice of customer information:

  • Customer conversations and interviews
  • Feedback from sales and customer service team members
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Company and/or product reviews
  • Social media feedback

Knowing what customers need and want can be extremely beneficial to any company. It helps in optimizing product offerings, aids in charting product roadmaps, provides important information for strategic planning, and it can help marketers hone their messaging and improve their choices when it comes to any and all marketing tactics.

It is a good idea for every company to embark on a voice of customer initiative from time to time. You’ll see the best results and glean the most useful data from a well-planned and purposefully-conducted VoC program. If you need help launching your own voice of customer initiative, Fractional CMO & Marketing will gladly help!

Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer

What Is Fractional CMO & Marketing?

Fractional CMO & Marketing is ‘Your Outsourced Marketing Department’ when you need expert marketing leadership and marketing services to accelerate growth and improve profitability, but you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer or your own marketing department.

Our unique arrangement is the most efficient, innovative, and cost-effective formula for you. Click on the image to the left to watch a short video.

We Help When You Need To:

  • Generate more of the right kind of leads
  • Close more sales faster
  • Get repeat sales
  • Formulate a more effective message
  • Produce powerful sales tools

  • Establish brand awareness, recognition, and preference
  • Differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Develop lasting relationships with customers
  • Introduce new products

Marketing Lingo: Quantitative Versus Qualitative Data

Simply speaking, ‘quantitative’ refers to information that can be measured and counted, such as information or responses obtained through methods like surveys, polls, or questionnaires. Qualitative information requires observation and establishing motivation, and therefore, can be rather subjective in its interpretation.

Quantitative research aims to collect dependable statistics that can be used to steer important business queries and decisions. Before investing too much time, effort, and other means into an initiative, an organization should know if there is a market for the idea in mind and how widespread the idea’s reach could be. 

Relatively speaking, a very small percentage of the world’s businesses can afford to waste resources on a notion without some inkling that the concept has merit. Surveys and questionnaires with close-ended questions, asked of a rather large group of representative participants, are most used to glean the quantitative data needed to give marketers the information they need to make decisions.

For example, depending on the purpose of your research and prospective audience for your product, mobile surveys could leave out an important segment of people, but conversely, landline survey calls automatically leave out almost 67% of homes that use only mobile for their phone service. After quantitative data is acquired, it doesn’t do much good to your company unless it is organized, examined, and shared with the E-suite and other decision makers. Truth be told, businesses that are small- to medium-sized (like the ones we most often help), don’t have the necessary proficiencies or capabilities to analyze and act on the findings in-house.

Qualitative research aims to find deeper insights into behavior, motives, and feelings. While these can be incredibly useful, they aren’t quantifiable, and that means a bit of risk and intuition is involved when making decisions based on these findings. It is often said that if quantitative brings the “what”, qualitative brings the “why”. If you want to know why customers like or dislike certain marketing initiatives or brands, qualitative information could provide the responses needed to re-direct. Usually, this information is obtained through discussions, like focus groups, interviews, and online forums dedicated to the product in question. One very important thing to keep in mind is that the number of respondents in this type of data gathering is much smaller, so keeping a close eye on the proceedings is very important, as is making bias-avoiding adjustments and ensuring the data gleaned brings information as well as insight.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter, which will feature an article on what you need to ask to figure out which type of information – qualitative versus quantitative – would be best for the questions at hand.

* ‘Marketing Lingo’ is a regular column in which we define, or otherwise explain, terms often used in marketing but not necessarily correctly or properly by some

Your Company Needs a Fractional CMO If… (Part 1)

Think about your goals for marketing in 2022. No, those are sales goals… we’re asking about your marketing goals. If it’s a challenge for you to differentiate between the two, or none come to mind, that’s the 1st indication you need a Fractional CMO. We can help with marketing leadership and planning, focused marketing strategies and implementation, and through tracking, analysis, and adjustments, increase your marketing-spend ROI as well.

Has anyone in your small- to medium-sized company taken over or adopted the marketing function out of necessity because there was no other choice? If so, that is the 2nd indication you need a Fractional CMO

In such cases, usually an organization’s owner, CEO, or sales director, steps into the role. Truth be told, there is enough work already for those positions within a business of that size, and marketing could not possibly receive the attention needed to make a company as successful as it would be otherwise. Sure, anyone has a few minutes to post on social media, but creating the strategies / plans for all the platforms out there, writing the appropriate content, analyzing and re-aiming efforts, and evaluating advertising opportunities and pitfalls there take time. And this is just one example of a marketing initiative that needs planning, implementing, oversight, and work on next steps.

Most businesses simply cannot afford to hire a highly-qualified individual to fill its C-level marketing position, and most candidates who would be appropriate for the position are not interested in part-time employment or less than a full and robust benefits package. Have you run into this situation before? That is the 3rd indication you need a Fractional CMO. A marketing executive that divides his / her time in fractional increments for multiple clients, all while maintaining confidentiality and devoting specifically-allotted time to each, is a Fractional CMO, which provides your company the benefits and accountability of a full-time marketing executive while saving you considerable money. Yearly average salaries can range from as low as $70,000 (which is still nothing to sneeze at) to as high as over $300,000, and these figures don’t include bonuses and benefits that interviewees at that level will expect.

Is your 2022 budget still in flux? Every business needs marketing to survive and thrive, and if you can’t confidently commit to bringing on (hiring) a long-term employee to handle it, this is the 4th indication you need a Fractional CMO. It’s not at all unusual for smaller businesses to experience financial instability or uncertainty. When that happens, a businessperson’s natural inclination is to stop spending – while we agree that there are some categories that should see a tightened belt, marketing isn’t one of them. The reason is rather straightforward: Marketing informs prospects, reassures current customers, and supports the sales function – investing less (or nothing) in getting your message out means potential clients won’t be aware of you, already-existing patrons may move a competitor to the forefront of their mind, and selling will be much more difficult. During times of financial strain, marketing is the place to invest, because it can bring the sales that your business needs to get out of that economic situation. And an outsourced, Fractional CMO will cost you less than a full-time CMO employee.

We hope this article has provided you with some valuable information and answers for evaluating whether a Fractional CMO is right for your business. In April’s newsletter, we’ll publish “Your Company Needs a Fractional CMO If… (Part 2)”!

This Fast-Food Chain Rivalry Isn’t About Burgers… But It Is Juicy!

“Sorry… the ice cream / milkshake machine is broken.” In which food establishment have you or someone you know heard that during at least a few visits? We’ll give you 3 guesses – not that you’ll probably need more than the first. Over the past almost 3 decades, it’s graduated from just a running joke to entering our common-knowledge lexicon that when you go to McDonald’s® with a milkshake, McFlurry®, or hot fudge sundae in mind, there’s a decent chance you’ll hear about how the machine is broken. On rare occasions, the employees change it up and say, “it’s being cleaned right now”.

Those of us not inside the inner sanctum of McDonald’s® may never know whether the ice cream machines get (air quotes begin) broken or dirty (air quotes end) with such frequency.


 The news still leaves anyone wanting a frozen, creamy, sweet treat simultaneously crestfallen and completely perplexed at how, in 2022, the largest and most successful fast-food restaurant chain on Earth, with over 41,500 locations across the globe, cannot get those machines to work with the same consistency as their fryers, drink dispensers, patty warmers, and cash registers. On a side note, how interesting is it that the appliance allowing sales to be made and money collected always works – Scully and Mulder ought to check into that oddity. (The rivalry information is coming up… just a bit more background first.)

Yes, this article has included satire thus far. But for years, customers have shared on social media and other platforms that McDonald’s® ice cream machines are out of order quite a bit. A decade ago, Ludacris was a guest on BET’s Rap City, freestyling about Mickey D’s®, and he opined, “Ya’ll wonder why the ice cream machine’s still broken!” This video and a rather clever original song can be found on the internet, as can one particularly fed-up patron’s attempt to inform others about the status of machines at their local franchises. In October 2020, Rashiq Zahid, a software engineer and programmer extraordinaire, created McBroken.com, where he updates U.S. customers. How does he obtain the data he uploads? He realized when the machines aren’t operational, employees will indicate in the fast-food giant’s mobile app that ice cream is “unavailable”; so in 30-minute intervals, the McBroken website starts an order for the frozen treat from America’s McDonald’s® locations, and tracks which refused to add the selection to the ‘cart’. A green dot means ice cream awaits those who want to order it, while a red dot means no dice (or no ice… cream, as it were).

So, what’s this rivalry mentioned in the title?! In a nutshell, it’s a never-before-used way that one fast-food chain is challenging another. Earlier this month, competitor Jack In the Box® partnered with McBroken.com, and launched a very clever (some would call it savage) campaign aimed at fast-food fans – ‘Don’t Get McShammed’. Now in addition to seeing which McDonald’s locations are more likely and less likely to be able to provide you an ice cream-based treat, you can also see where a Jack In the Box® is on the map. We’re not sure how complex the contractual agreement between “Jack” and Zahid was to make this happen, but we’re convinced from our numerous years of experience working with web programmers, that the mechanics and cost of editing the McBroken website must’ve been a relatively simple, fast, and easy operation to put in motion – it appears to be nothing more than a simple overlay map. Well played, “Jack”… well played. Jack In the Box®, of course, offers its own line of milkshakes, and when we’ve gone there and ordered one, we’ve never heard, “Sorry… the ice cream / milkshake machine is broken.”

We really got a kick out of this move by Jack In the Box®! The corporation smartly used a commonly-known and lamented pain point of customers and a target market it most certainly shares with competitor (and top of the heap of all fast-food joints) McDonald’s®. Even though this article is about two business-to-consumer companies, the same principle holds true for business-to-business organizations – find pain points your competitor is failing to address in any meaningful way (much less provide a solution to) and use it to your advantage to gain market share. We can help you identify those in our complimentary Marketing Needs Assessment – all you need to do is contact us to schedule a call.

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