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Connections are made with every person, thing, and piece of information we come in contact with. We are together on this planet, and more and more that reality is being assisted by technology. I swim in the sea of digital and social media and I observe many people all around me. I observe the changing world and the messy wiring of all the things, products, gadgets, sites, companies, startups, and knowledge that abounds. We truly are in the ocean of life, experience, and technology. The thing is we are all universally connected and disconnected at the same time. We wander through life in a series of connections and shared experiences while others have totally different experiences right next to us. It is those moments of intersection, the great moments that define all relationships that we have with things, people, and even ourselves that create our experience. That is what creates relationships and our brains are wired to make connections. It is part of the way we store memories.
Businesses use marketing as a go between and handshake with their customers. As my friend Brian Fanzo says, then you can “turn handshakes into hugs“. He gets the goal of relationship marketing. Businesses are only now understanding the buyer journey and few focus beyond the purchase. If companies focused on the after sale journey, that would lead them to being responsible for two things: a relationship with their customer, and the relationship the customer has with the product or service they sold them. The problem with most of the business world is it is all about the sale. Businesses never wanted a relationship, and never cared about how much you liked the product you bought. Everything from the product development to the marketing was to get you to want it, not to get you to love owning it. Only empowered consumers, a desire to stay relevant, and a turbulent and competitive market were able to create an environment that finally makes companies care or even think about relationships.
Instead of focusing on channel-centric touch-points, move toward creating a meaningful relationship with your customer that involves frequent and on-going interactions across the channels. Christi Olson – Search Evangelist for Microsoft
The “I” in all of us defines us and also says, “What can your product do for me?” It is this “I” that says I am a prospect. The hope of a we (sale) is what has driven marketing and product development, but it is really the thought of we and not the actual experience of we and that is part of the problem. Revenue is the great tease for the company and those intentions are felt in the say anything to get you of their marketing. The great dance of desire to get you to say “I’ll take it” has been the whole marketing hype of the last century. I see us now shifting to the we, the we is more profitable.
- A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to 25% increase in profits – Bain & Co.
- The cost of acquiring a new customer can be 5 times as expensive as keeping a current client
You can’t fake the we relationship with your customers, it must be customers over revenue. Many companies won’t make it, big companies, companies with marketshare, power, and budgets. They are victims of the hype game mentality. They have old thinking in a time when that can get you killed. New thinking is we, not fake we, but authentic small business and startup we. It is why startups are disrupting the scene and old thinking companies are getting schooled on the playground. The new kids are consumers turned business owners and they make things for the consumers. They are creating authentic relationships with products and services while others continue to play the hype game.
What can you do? I was recently in a Twitter chat (#H2HChat) and I said, “Don’t forget your customer at the end of the customer journey, protect your relationship and investment in future revenue”. One of the people said, the customer is at the beginning of the journey. Now I actually agree and think it starts with the customer-centric mindset from the very beginning, but that missed the point of my initial statement. Don’t forget…..the customer at the END of the customer journey. In reality, the customer journey never ends. See every business thinks about the customer when they want something from them (a sale). The problem is they lack the understanding of seeing the much larger revenue that is generated from designing a product that serves the customer and wows them while building and growing relationships. Most businesses are one night stands and don’t understand the value of marriage.
It is the same way with TV shows. Have you ever been angry that a show you loved got cancelled or the series ended? Shows get better over time because you form relationships with the characters and you get to know them. Companies work so hard to get your relationship to the point of sale and then fail to capitalize on that momentum and convert sales into relationships. Have you ever switched grandmas? Ever traded your kids in for something new? No, because you have relationships with those people to the point that even when they treat you bad you still stay loyal to them. That is the high bar that companies should be reaching for. Your product needs to reach grandma loyalty status. When you reach grandma status with your customers, it defeats and diminishes your competition. When the product means something more than just plastic and metal. Apple had this during its glory years. Those years are past and they are running on the fumes of past greatness and identity but they were built by creating memorable experiences that were all part of an ongoing relationship with the brand.
It takes the smallest gestures to create loyalty but you can’t fake it. Cashiers and frontline people have been winning customers for organizations for decades and it had nothing to do with the company. It’s the barista at Starbucks that knows your name and remembers your drink before you order it. It is the helpful guy at the paint department that walks you through the right type of paint. When people see the commercial for the company the remember the people they engaged with and all that money on the ad pales in ROI to the minimum wage person who cared about them and helped them with what they needed. Can you imagine if those millions spent in marketing were funneled into frontline employee incentives and raises? Can you imagine if companies made better products not to make the sale, but to have an army of loyal customers who absolutely loved everything they bought from that company? Those products create relationships and the bridge between the customer and the company.
Here is a Short 11 min video where we dig in to the topic more:
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