On her blog, Creating Passionate Users, Kathy Sierra brilliantly compares full color company brochures with boring, black & white user manuals to illustrate the need for placing greater marketing focus on the existing customer. For whatever reason acquisition seems to trump retention. Quantity trumps quality. Immediate return trumps long term growth. Perhaps this is because it is just easier to measure. New customers are easy to track, much more so than the ripple effect of word of mouth. However, this thinking is problematic. It puts the focus on attaining that which we do not yet have, instead of paying attention to cultivating and appreciating the resources already at our disposal. It is wasteful, lazy, and shortsighted. By truly energizing and engaging existing customers- focusing on blowing them away with a remarkable experience, a virtuous cycle of organic growth develops. Word of mouth is powerful, and existing customers are the source of that power. As professionals, loyal customers deserve to be the absolute center the universe. Of course you need new customers to grow. Sure the sexy brochure is important. It is part of the courtship of the customer and appearances do matter. But once you have that relationship, those appearances don’t stop mattering. In fact, they matter more. Other people are watching. Other people are listening. Let your customers know they matter and more customers will come. That is what GREAT marketing is all about. The relationship should begin and grow at “yes” – not wither and die.
Archive for August, 2006
Remember that line from the Beatles song “If you want it, here it is, come and get it.” Well that pretty much sums up a wonderful website I recently discovered called Freecycle.org. I heard about the site last Friday while listening to All Things Considered on WYSO. Freecycle allows you to give unwanted items to anyone who might want to take them away. It also allows you to get the things you need from other people who no longer want them. The primary rule, Everything is free. Pianos, computer equipment, furniture, clothes and more are listed on the site. Want one? Sure, no charge! Zero, Zip, Nada. There are hundreds of thousands of members all across the country, broken down by locality and region. This is a great way to keep things out of landfills and in the hands of grateful users. It is also proof that there are worthwhile things happening on the Internet. Save yourself some cash by checking this out for yourself.
Yesterday my wife’s car surprisingly got a flat tire. It had been parked in the garage for a few days, seemingly fine, but must have been slowly leaking. She called me after she discovered it yesterday afternoon, so I came home from work a little early to get it repaired. I jacked up the car, took off the old tire, bolted on the doughnut and headed out – prepared to drop a few hundred bucks for yet another unexpected, but necessary, expense. Because it was close, I chose to go to Tire Discounters. I went inside the store and explained my situation to Michael Golembiewski, the General Manager. Having bought tires from other tire vendors before, I assumed that I would be pummeled with the standard barrage of how I must replace all 4 tires, and only the most expensive tires would truly ensure the safety of my wife and children. However, something else happened – something nice. Michael said “Have a seat, give me 5 minutes to take a look, and I’ll let you know what you need.” So I planted myself in a lobby chair, opened my book, and waited. About 5 minutes later I heard Michael’s voice, as he returned to the lobby. I thought, “Okay, here comes the pain,” and I prepared to scratch out a check for some new Michelans. “Mr Bowman,” Micheal said, “you’re all set.” “What?” I replied – thoroughly confused by what I was hearing. Micheal went on to tell me that they were able to patch the old tire, and there was no charge for the service. His one request was that the next time I needed tires, I need to give him a call. “Are you serious?” I said. “Absolutely” he responded. Thrilled, I thanked him profusely, and headed for home. What Michael did not know, or perhaps on some level did know, was that I have another vehicle that is in need of 4 new tires. Until yesterday, I had not even given thought as to where I would buy them. Today, I need not give it any thought either, because now I know for certain where they will be purchased. So by patching my tire for free, instead of selling me two tires I did not need, Tire Discounters will now get my business for the 4 tires on the other vehicle and any other tires I need in the future. Michael could have easily sold me those 2 tires yesterday. I was powerless. He could a have chosen not to bother patching my old tire, told me it was beyond repair, and charged me for the replacements. He could have, but he did not. He chose to bypass the immediate return of the one time sale in exchange for my trust. It was an investment decision on his part. It was a good one. Had I bought the 2 tires, I would have gotten what I expected. My experience would not have been remarkable, and I would have no compelling reason to return to his store. I certainly would have no reason to tell anyone else about what happened. Because of Micheal’s choice to help me when I needed it, I will now choose to help him grow his business, which is what he needs. So, if you are in need of tires, and happen to live South of Dayton, check out Tire Discounters on West Central Avenue. They replaced my tire, earned my trust, and made my day. Thank You Tire Discounters.
Sometimes the way to make a product better is not to add more to it, but to take something away. That is just what Kraft foods has brilliantly done with KOOL-AID Invisible. Growing up, the only objection I remember adults consistently having to drinking KOOL-AID had nothing to do with my consumption of it, but rather the potential disaster that could come if I spilled it on the new carpet, new drapes, new furniture, or in the family room that no one went into. KOOL-AID on a nice shirt meant that it was no longer a nice shirt. Thus KOOL-AID was to be consumed with caution – in the right place at the right time. With KOOL-AID clear, the primary objection by parents, (this stuff permanently stains everything) is eliminated. Still thinking that all the good ideas are taken? It is amazing to me that so many people used this product, experienced this problem, and it took until now for someone to say “Hey, what if we took the dye out!” Surprisingly, I have not seen one commercial for this product, and most people I ask about it respond with a dumbfounded “Huh?” I bought this product by accident a few weeks ago, and must say that it has had rave reviews in the Bowman household. With the risk of spill eliminated, it is now a staple in our pantry. I recommend it highly. The only drawback – no KOOL-AID mustache.
Want to learn about the future of product marketing? Check out www.MyHeinz.com. Heinz is offering personalized labels for their ketchup bottles. While the price is a little steep, (6 bucks a bottle) it is a brilliant idea. Why would someone want this? Why not? As someone who has worked in a restaurant, I can tell you they are always looking for interesting things to put on the table. How about marketing messages about the restaurant on every ketchup bottle? Trust me, they don’t use Heinz to refill those bottles at most restaurants, so the 6 dollar bottle would get more mileage than you would think. This might also bring some fun into your next cookout, party, or dinner. Nothing says party like “Fancy Ketchup!” except of course Natural Light – the beer with the taste for food. If you have ever read Free Prize Inside, this is the classic example of a free prize. Although they did not make the ketchup taste any different, they might convince you to pay more for it with creative & effective marketing. So make sure to look at the label the next time you are preparing to devour that pile of french fries. There may be a little something extra there for you.
About a month ago I drove past this sign. It was in the front yard of a home that was for sale (It may still be, I don’t know). The home sits at a very busy intersection – the crossroads of two state routes adjacent to the interstate and across from a shopping center. A high traffic location to be sure. What caught my attention was not the house, but rather the comment on the sign in the front yard. “Zen Like” I thought to myself, could there be any house that is Less Zen Like? It is probably a lovely home. I wish the sellers luck in finding a buyer, but “Zen Like.” What? Then as I thought more, I realized I don’t even know what the heck that phrase means. If you know, please tell me. Is the idea less is more? Seems like a funny way to sell a home. I will give this realtor credit for grabbing my attention, and not resorting to “Price Reduced” like my former realtor did only two weeks after we listed our house. The problem is the sign confused the heck out of me instead of making me interested in buying the house. Maybe this works, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I do know that for 6 or 7% I would expect more…or maybe I should say less. Maybe this free post will help the sellers find an interested buyer – another “zen like” concept. By the way, is there a difference between Zen and Zen Like?
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