A few weeks ago I did play golf in Germany and tasted a delicious alcohol-free beer from Erdinger. So, I decided to Google for it and check where I could buy this product in The Netherlands. I thought that this was a 5-minute job. I could not have been more wrong.
I could not find any brick and mortar store, which would be selling this product. Isn’t this strange as this is the best selling alcohol-free brand in Germany? Therefor I did contact them via their website with this simple question: where can I buy this product? First they did send me to a distributor which happened to have as their only customer …… Heineken! This approach didn’t work and I did contact them again. The helpful area sales manager arranged a call with a local sales manager and he actually pointed to a store (rather close to where I live) where I could buy the product.
This process did cost me quite some time, which shouldn’t be the case. So I did send the area sales manager some feedback and suggestions. Especially that a proper use of social media would be quite useful for them as well as for their prospects. And again I was introduced to another local sales manger, who did write this reply:
This product is positioned as a Sports and Fitness Drink and therefore we do support several sport events, mainly running events. In 2012 we started a sponsoring campaign with the Dutch Trail Cup in the Netherlands which takes place in Gulpen, Rheden and Schoorl (14th of October).
So far we have used the dutch Runner’s World for 3 advertisments, incl. editorials on their webpage.
In what kind of social media are you working with?”
Obviously they lack a clear understanding of what social media is and can do for them. This marketing approach will cause the same problems i.e. if people want to buy the product after the events/advertisements they can find no source where they can actually buy the product. And there is also nobody (via social media!) who they can contact. I also doubt whether they will use the same laborious process as I did.
What are the learnings from this experience?
Well, it looks like a typical example of a product-focused company who has problems with putting the customer at the center of their operations. Also a clear understanding of the benefits of social media is lacking. The marketing department should also see their approach as part of a larger ecosystem, instead of focusing on an isolated activity only. There are still huge opportunities by putting the customer at the start and at the end of all your activities.
Are you giving priority to the customer (service) experience?