Here's a quick 10-Point Checklist of ways to simplify the task of acquiring customers.
If you believe that simplicity is better than complexity and that it has inherent strengths and advantages, then this checklist, based on the Power of Simplicity
by Jack Trout, will have immediate value and impact on your business. Think of it as a single, simple sign amidst a tangle of conflicting and confusing road signs. Power of Simplicity
Trout, co-author of the best-sellers marketing classics, Positioning
and Marketing Warfare
, seeks to cut through the nonsense that is robbing management of its ability to manage well. He directs us to the power of simplicity, which he describes as common sense.Simplicity Checklist
Here are 10 management principles of simplicity, applied to the task of getting more customers.1. Avoid complex language
Never let a confusing word or concept go unchallenged.2. Choose information over data
It’s more important to know what’s important and why, then to process vast amounts of data.3. Bad advice comes from consultants who confuse.
Good advice has nothing to do with buzzwords, fancy processes, or colorful PowerPoint presentations.4. Think of competitors for your customers as the enemy.
Choose your warfare based on your strengths and your enemy’s weakness: it is either defensive, offensive, flanking or guerrilla warfare.5. Strategy is to management as location is to real estate.
If you can’t offer a better reason for your customers to buy, then you’d better offer a very good price.6. The customer is not always right, but you must pay attention.
Offer the customer what they want to buy, not a dazzling list of what you believe is important.7. Focus annual budgets on opportunities, not tradition.
Put your money where your opportunities are, not where they were.8. Price your product or service based on what the customer will pay for it.
Don’t train your customers to buy on price.9. Mission statements add needless confusion.
A mushy mission statement is an indication that a company doesn’t know where it’s going.10. Apply common sense.
It can make things simple.Add to these 10 principles these three simple ideas:
How good is your customer acquisition program? After checking it for simplicity, try this Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.
- Big ideas almost always come in small words.
- If you unclutter your mind, you’ll think more clearly.
- Never trust anyone you don’t understand.
Commission vs. Commission-Free Sales: The Dynamics of Today's Marketplace
The New York Times
, in its November 21, 2013 Small Business section, featured the article “For Some, Paying Sales Commissions No Longer Makes Sense
.” The article described how and why some small businesses are moving away from sales commissions and thriving. What is particularly interesting in the arguments for and against sales commissions is where the great divide stands; those who opt for commission-free sales do so because they believe it builds better client relationships while those who stay with commissions believe it helps to attract and retain better sales people.
Why the Sacrosanct Model of Commissioned Sales is Under Attack
It has to do with the Internet and the changing relationship between buyer and seller. One business owner explained it this way:“Thanks to the Internet (even before a sales agent shows up) the customer has done the work comparing vendor solutions, checking scores of comparisons from users and buyers.”
Another business owner added, “Twenty years ago, the company’s clients needed sales representatives to explain pricing and policies. Today, the Internet has made such information widely available.”
The Argument For Commission-Free Sales
The companies featured in the article that moved to commission-free sales had all been on a commissioned sales basis, so there was experience with that model of compensation. The model ceased to work
for these companies for these reasons:
- The carrot-and-stick model of commission sales had diminished the rate of return on performance.
- Commissions were getting in the way of a proper dialogue with customers.
- Commissions fostered negative behaviors, such as focusing on an individual’s profit over the company’s, emphasizing short-term outcomes and encouraging unproductive competition among sales representatives.
- Commissions focused too much on the individual at the expense of the customer and their pain.
- Doing right for the customer was in conflict with an individual’s desire to earn a higher salary. This included overselling to clients to satisfy personal earning targets.
- Commissioned sales were not conducive to a team effort and could lead to a corrosive work atmosphere.
- Commissioned sales did not concentrate on the good of the company.
How One Company Successfully Moved to Commission-Free Sales
The articles cites ThoughtWorks, a software company, that worked on its sales strategy for a full year before implementation. The owner, Craig Gorsline, reports that annual sales grew between 18 and 22 percent in each of the last two years. “We still demand revenue generation. The only thing that changed is the way they are compensated.”Here are the key steps ThoughtWorks used to move to commission-free sales.
- The entire sales team and management team were brought together to discuss the new direction, explain the rationale and provide a forum for discussion.
- The salary structure took into consideration high performers, offering them compensation close to what they had earned with commissions.
- While all sales reps took pay cuts, they were offered the security of a paycheck. (ThoughtWorks operates in a cyclical industry.)
Although 10 percent of the representatives quit, ThoughtWorks turned the new sales strategy into a recruiting benefit, finding better candidates overall and those aligned with the overall mission.
Another company that gave up commission sales used bonuses based on the company’s profit performance, with a bigger share going to those who had been with the company the longest.
Why One Company Moved To Commissioned Sales
RJMetrics, also a software company, opened in 2008 and did not pay sales commissions, believing it would poison the corporate culture. It returned to the traditional commission sales model for these reasons:
- Commission sales were required to attract the best sales team.
- Commission sales provided the ability to offer incentives for tactical things, including bringing customers onboard with long-term agreements.
- Commission sales helped prevent employees from thinking twice about a better offer somewhere else.
The Internet has permanently and dramatically changed the buyer-seller relationship to the extent that some companies are moving away from the traditional commissioned sales model of compensation. But this is not the only reason; these same companies are valuing customer relationships as the key to success, with salary being the better method of fostering those relationships.
Will commissions still attract the best sales talent and drive business results? This depends upon many factors, and these factors are different for each company. For many companies, the commission model is still the best.
What will be interesting to watch is how the dynamic plays out and if new, hybrid models evolve.Regardless of which method you use, customer acquisition is still Job 1. That’s why this Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist can be a valuable tool. Download it now, using the link below.
Image via Inc.com
You say, “Thank you.” They respond, “No problem.” Your “thank you” was a sincere expression of gratitude; their response was, well, nothing at best and an insult at worst.
You might have replied back with, “I’m glad that you didn’t have to trouble yourself,” but why stoop to their level?
MISSED MARKETING AND SALES OPPORTUNITIES
How many opportunities are missed because someone fails to say “thank you”? That’s the marketing and sales blunder-the lost opportunity to genuinely connect with someone.
One of the most memorial responses I have ever experienced, one that has set the standard for me ever since, was a receptionist who, when I asked to be connected to the manager, responded, “It will be my pleasure to connect you.”
I was blown away, and her tone set a very positive note for the conversation that followed.
DELIGHTING IN DELIGHTING YOU
Does this suggest a definition for service excellence? It does to me; it is taking genuine delight in delighting you.
If you want to experience the power of an attitude adjustment, just hold the door open for someone and when they say “thank you” say “my pleasure.” It draws a smile every time.
In her book, The Art of Thank You, Connie Leas explores the art of the written Thank You. She sees the habit of writing notes of gratitude as a healthy antidote to the greed and self-centeredness so prevalent today.
Learn the art of Thank You. You don’t need a beautifully designed website, tons of blog content, social media videos, or Big Data to make a positive, memorable impression. It’s as easy as showing delight with words like "thank you," “my pleasure” and “you’re welcome.”
And that, after all, may be your most powerful marketing tool.
If you would like a marketing tool of another variety, please download the Quick 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist...with my thanks.
What are the three most powerful, free tools for building your business and acquiring customers? It would hard to select anything but LinkedIn, the elevator pitch, and storytelling. So why not combine all three into a concise statement that you use consistently?
Location | Power | Focus
LinkedIn Profile: The Power of Location
The LinkedIn Profile section is the ideal strategic location for a description that combines the powerful emotional elements of a story and the laser-focused summary of an elevator pitch.
As of Q3 2013, LinkedIn has 259,000,000+ registered members worldwide (source: press.Linkedin.com). Many will be searching your profile before you call on them. They want to learn about your:
They want to know:
- What you do
- Who recommends you and for what
They want proof of what you can do for them, and you are being vetted before you even speak a word.
In 9 Reasons Why You Must Update Your LinkedIn Profile Today (forbes.com) reason #9 is it’s the ultimate personal branding platform.
With all these strengths, the LinkedIn profile section is the ideal power location.
Storytelling: The Power of Emotion
The power of storytelling is one of this year’s amazing growth stories as more and more people discover its power to influence. Stories sell, better than facts and better than articles. And stories connect in compelling and believable ways that lifeless, soul-less documents and presentations cannot.
So become a great storyteller:
- Insert yourself into each story
- Insert emotion to energize the story
- Use vivid words and action words that engage the mind
(Go here to learn the 10 Disciplines of Effective Storytelling)
Elevator Pitch: The Power of Focus
To achieve a laser-like effect with your elevator pitch, focus on these three points;
- Dollars: How you would create a better dollar situation.
- Data: Document the improvement you can make with data.
- Delta: Tell what’s going to change for the better.
See 6 Ideas to Elevate the Elevator Pitch from Forbes, Inc. and the Huffington Post.
Don’t just use LinkedIn, storytelling, and the elevator pitch independently - combine the strengths of each into a unique message that you tell in all places.
Wayne Breitbarth, a LinkedIn Expert, shared this message with me (on LinkedIn, of course); “…make sure your profile really tells the reader where you have been but more importantly where you are going and whether they should be a part of the journey or not.” And what better way to accomplish this than to use the customer acquisition trifecta.
Learn about more tools to use in concert with LinkedIn, storytelling, and the elevator pitch. Download the Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist. Just click the image, below.
Image: via trifectawritingchallenge.com
If your business is at risk because it is too heavily dependent upon referrals, here are four new groundbreaking tools and processes to build a 21st century customer acquisition machine.
In When Referrals Dry Up: A Customer Acquisition Backup Plan
, I wrote that:
- Referrals dry up when a more attractive tool replaces them. That tool is the Internet.
- The Internet is empowering the customer and swinging the buy-sell relationship away from you as seller.
- The way to regain leverage is to reverse the power transfer by using the same tools as the buyer, but in new and innovative ways.
This leverage is in the form of a Customer Acquisition Backup Plan
. This plan has two levels: Basic and AdvancedThe Basic Plan
(described in the earlier article)
The Basic Plan uses an Inbound Marketing Approach that attracts customers who are looking for the solutions they want, on their terms. This results in a company surfacing with the right solutions, in the right form, just when the customer needs them.The Advanced Customer Acquisition Backup Plan
The Advanced Customer Acquisition Backup Plan takes Inbound Marketing to new heights. Here are four new, highly sophisticated tools and approaches that can give you the edge over your competitors.
BUILD YOUR ADVANCED CUSTOMER ACQUISITION PLAN
THE SOCIAL INBOX
WITH THESE 4 TOOLS YOUR COMPETITORS DON'T HAVE
Selling was once personal. Then came email, social media that is hardly personal, and automated emails - all very impersonal. The Social Inbox makes social selling personal again and helps humanize the selling process.
Social media is here to stay, but it has baggage. Here's how The Social Inbox, an innovative Hubspot (a strategic partner) tool, works:
The Business Payoff
- Focuses on people, not just keywords
- Views the entire interaction history, not just clickthroughs
- Integrates all its tools, not just a collection of standalone tools
Learn more about the Social Inbox here
- Marketing finds the right prospects at the right time
- Sales reps monitor prospect's Twitter activity and can respond in real time
- Customer support has contextualized information and can track customer tweets and sentiment
.SIGNALS: EMAIL TRACKING TOOL
Trying to understand buying signals is not a new concept by any means, but with exposure to endless data and dramatic changes in technology, it is hard to know what information is the most telling of a prospect’s intentions. Signals uses technology to hurdle this challenge.Signals
is a free tool from HubSpot that gives you real-time notifications to help you follow-up with your leads and customers more efficiently and more effectively. Here's what it offers:1. Track email opens and click
s directly from Gmail, Outlook and Salesforce.2. Get an instant notification
when your message is opened or clicked, including LinkedIn alerts. It’s that little bit of extra information that helps you measure engagement, nail your timing, and close more deals.3. Learn who is doing research
on your website right now and follow-up in real time. It’s a great way to know when an old lead re-awakens, or when it’s the perfect moment to reach out.4. Be alerted when cold leads revisit. 5. Get notified the second a high value prospect first hits your website. 6. Be notified the second you have a new lead
, no matter what you are up to.
In the highly informative article New Sales Technology To Close More Deals | Selling With Signals
, Michael Pici thinks of a signal as being any track-able piece of data that shows a person is interacting with your content, taking an action of importance, or having a significant conversation.
Signals are not intended to replace personal interaction but to provide context to the face or voice of interactions. They will move sales from rote implementation of tasks via CRM tools to a real time selling model, where pre-determined tasks have less priority than signals.SOCIAL NURTURING
In Can Context and Marketing Automation Really Coexist?
, author John Bonini makes the case that contextual marketing, with its ability to support genuine interaction, can work hand-in-hand with marketing automation, which tends to produce robotic responses.
Consider this example of a robotic response that Bonini provides:
John suggests the following contextual tools when developing your lead and prospect management strategy:List Segmentation
Group your contacts together into groups based on past behaviors.
Create a smart list to include all contacts who have previously taken an interest in anything social media. This could mean a previous download or even a page visit.
By creating an automated workflow, the prospect will receive whatever corresponding content you deem helpful to both their experience as well as your sales process in order to ensure a more effective engagement.Social Nurturing
Utilizing tools such as HubSpot’s Social Inbox, you can actually create streams that monitor what specific groups of your contacts are saying about you, your products, or any other industry terms.
Simply create a smart list, and create a stream using Social Inbox that follows said stream in order to monitor and effectively engage in real conversations with your prospects.
It’s real. It’s more human. It builds trust rather than break it.SALES CONNECT CALL PLAYBOOK
The Sales Connect Call Playbook is a collection of new tools via sellinbound.com
to help reps demonstrate that they are worthy of a response when your prospect is at peak interest.How The Playbook Works:
• Employs buyer context
• Balances helpfulness and education vs aggressiveness and hard closes
• Supplies thought leadership
• Uses lead intelligence
• Helps deliver the right message at the right timeThe Playbook Uses These Three Tools:
- Lead Grade Worksheet. To better organize, qualify, prioritize, and sell to leads
- Sales Prospecting Email Templates. Reps are expected to know more and to prove that they deserve a prospect's time and respect. To ensure that your reps are constantly delivering value but don't cross the line on what is appropriate, use carefully crafted templates that establish expertise, project genuineness, and help your company stand out from competition
- The Connect Call Playbook.
According to @johnsherer, the playbook helps ensure that reps are:
• Setting a Goal for your Connect Call
• Dis-Qualifying as appropriate
• Building Rapport
• Maintaining a Balance between Talking and Listening
• Pitching and Qualifying
• Ending the Call at the Right Time
• Following Up to Increase VelocityKEY TAKEAWAY
Don't leave your business vulnerable to the powerful forces shaping how customers buy. Start your customer acquisition backup plan now using Inbound Marketing as its foundation, and add new, powerful social tools and processes that help you connect more personally with your prospects.
Inbound Marketing and the new Social Selling Tools are valuable customer acquisition assets. But not every business is ready for them. Check on your customer acquisition health with this 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist. Just click the image, below.
Are referrals a staple of your business? If they are, it's a good indicator that you are doing the right things. But as important as referrals may be, they can also be a two-edged sword; are plentiful referrals blinding you to fundamental changes in customer buying behavior that may, over time, siphon business away?
If you are even a little concerned, consider a customer acquisition backup plan. The key to this plan is to first understand why your referrals may begin to dry up, and then to put concrete actions into place to fix the problem before it becomes critical.
Why Referrals Dry Up
Referrals dry up when a more attractive process replaces them. That process is based on the Internet and it's components are information, efficiency, and buyer preference. This is why up to 60% of the sales process may be completed before a buyer even contacts a company.Information
Buyers (potential customers) want information that gives then a negotiating edge and helps to ensure a good buying decision. This information is available in abundance. Efficiency
Buyers who are under pressure to make better buying decisions and make them faster want efficient ways to access and aggregate information. These services are readily available.Buyer Preference
Above all, buyers want to be in control of the buy-sell process. Buyers now have the means of collecting information in their preferred channels and according to their personal time and usage preferences. The Changing Relationship - The Empowered Customer
In 2010, john R. Holland and Tim Young wrote an important book, Rethinking The Sales Cycle: How Superior Sellers Embrace the Buying Cycle to Achieve Sustainable and Competitive Advantage.
"The authors argue that in the past, sales cycles based on how the vendor wants to sell worked because vendors held more power than they do today. With the advent of the Internet and the information that it has put into buyer's hands, this power has shifted. The reality today is that selling will fail if it is … based on how vendors want to sell."
The proposed new selling model is based on how customers what to buy instead of how companies want to sell. A New Selling Cycle Model
The key to this model is to reverse the power transfer buyers have been enjoying by using the same tools but in new and innovative ways. The authors propose a new 5-Stage Selling CycleNew 5-Stage Selling Cycle
- Initiate a new selling cycle stage that focuses on creating a unique buying experience with a pace set by the buyer.
- Offset the power of instant information by conducting your own research into the buyer and the buyer's company.
- Recognize the buyer's emotional component and help the buyer to visualize how his/her goal can be achieved, problem solved, or need met.
- Provide reassurance in ways preferred by the buyer, but always include a financial analysis.
- Reduce the risk of the buyer decision by aligning with the buyer's emotional issues, helping the buyer to envision beyond the sale.
Customer Acquisition Backup Plan
There are two backup plan possibilities based on what your marketing looks like now.THE BASIC PLAN-AN INBOUND MARKETING APPROACH
The power shift from seller to buyer is part of the emergence of Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting customers who are looking for the solutions they want on their terms.Traditional Marketing
, which has historically been used to generate prospects, leads, and customers, has used the "hit them on the head with a 2 by 4" approach; in this approach a company will send buy messages when it wants, to whom it wants, and it the way it wants. This results in terrible waste.Inbound Marketing
seeks to attract prospects and nurture them into customers by preparing solutions, answers, and value-added content, and making this available at the convenience of the customer. This results in a company surfacing with the right solutions, in the right form, just when the customer needs them.Inbound Marketing Summarized
In its simplest form, Inbound Marketing is a process of addressing the sales funnel from the customer's perspective with a set of new, integrated tools.
Inbound marketing is a methodology that consists of four core actions:
- Attracting strangers (using blogging, keywords, optimized pages, and social media)
- Converting website visitors to leads (using forms, calls-to-action, a centralized database, and landing pages)
- Closing leads to create customers (using email, lead scoring, marketing automation and closed-loop reporting)
- Delighting customers to be your own promoters (using events, social media, and smart content)
Each core action is composed of many parts. Having an all-in-one marketing solution is a very effective and efficient way to optimize your marketing dollars.
Here is a graphic of the Inbound Marketing methodology from Hubspot, a strategic partner.
THE ADVANCED CUSTOMER ACQUISITION BACKUP PLAN
Inbound marketing is developing at a rapid pace, and the practices that were once new are now being replaced and iterated on by such sophisticated tools and resources such as:The Social Inbox
Social Inbox provides the context behind the people you're engaging with online.Signals
Signals is a free tool from HubSpot that gives you real-time notifications to help you follow up with your leads and customers more efficiently and more effectively.Social Nurturing
Social nurturing is a way of truly humanizing. Sales Connect Call Playbook
A collection of new tools via sellinbound.com
to help reps demonstrate that they are worthy of a response when your prospect is at peak interest.
Learn more about these new customer acquisition tools in the next article. (Sign up for the RSS feed here
Don't leave your business vulnerable to the powerful forces shaping how customers buy. Start your customer acquisition backup plan now using Inbound Marketing. Want to gauge your inbound marketing readiness? Download this 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.
Elevate your elevator pitch to the next level with this advice from some of the premier business resources.
Give the Perfect Elevator Pitch
Kevin Daum begins with what doesn't work: explaining ourselves in self indulgent and boring ways leading to wasted conversations and fruitless encounters. He offers these three steps to a successful pitch.Step 1: Connect with Empathy
Create a specific pain statement for the customers you want. You really only want to talk to people who are willing to pay for the problem you solve.Step 2: Offer an Objective Solution
Trying to close at this point is self-defeating. Prove how smart and insightful you are with an objective solution to their issues.Step 3: Provide Differentiation
Provide something your competitor can't do or won't do without great effort or expense.
Here's an example of what you might say in the elevator."You know how growing companies with revenue over $5,000,000 struggle with getting sales people to say the same thing, let alone the right thing? Often they grow on the sales ability of the entrepreneur, never putting efficient marketing systems in place; then they hit a plateau and can't scale."Wouldn't it be great if there were a company that could design and implement comprehensive marketing that makes your sales process efficient and lets your salespeople close more deals?"My company uses proven project management and storytelling techniques honed from our background in theater. Additionally we use proprietary processes outlined in my #1 bestselling marketing books and my national column on Inc. "Perhaps I could send you a link to my column or a couple of chapters from my books?"
The Perfect Elevator Pitch To Land a Job
What Nancy Collamer contributes in her article is the obvious but often overlooked discipline of WIFM and reinforces what Kevin Daum said about empathy.Tailor the Pitch to Them, Not You.
"It’s important to remember that the people listening to your speech will have their antennas tuned to WIFM (What’s in It for Me?). So be sure to focus your message on their needs."
"For example, this introduction: 'I am a human resources professional with 10 years experience working for consumer products companies.' The pitch would be more powerful if you said, 'I am a human resources professional with a strong track record in helping to identify and recruit top-level talent into management.'”
Huffington Post Small Business
The Art of the Elevator Pitch
In addition to focusing on differences, Dorie Clark adds this technique:The 27-9-3 Rule
"Several years back, a group of Vermont legislators came up with an extremely effective technique for creating short, snappy messages: 27-9-3, otherwise known as 27 words, 9 seconds, and three points. If you can keep within those parameters (or even shorter), you're ahead of the pack."
While this rule focuses on fewer words, it does point out the necessity of brevity and the importance of making just 3 points.
The next article takes the 3-point concept to a new level.
The 3D Difference
According to Dean, success in selling in not about making a dollar-it's about making a difference.
To make a difference, Dean says show them the difference in 3D:Dollars.
Can you describe in dollars and cents
the current situation in your target's world?
What would a better dollar situation look like? Data.
Are there processes you can improve?
Can you document that improvement with data? Delta.
What's going to change in your prospect's world?
What goes up and what goes down-
both for them personally and/or for their organization?
Every person you want a yes from is asking:
"What changes in my world?" if they say yes to you.That's solid advice from savvy resources. Pull it all together for something that works for you. And when you've perfected your elevator pitch, there's one more vital thing to consider: work in tall buildings.WHAT MORE IDEAS FOR ACQUIRING CUSTOMERS? DOWNLOAD 20 MORE IN THE Quick 20-Point Customer Acqisition Checklist.
Pivot Point Marketing is the belief that within every business there exists a pivot point - a new way of thinking that can dramatically change the fortune of the business and lead to massive customer acquisition.
It should not be confused with Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point
, that "moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."
Nor is it the pivot point of technical analysis in financial markets, the predictive indicator of market movement.
It is the ultimate "ah ha" moment when the chains of old, restrictive thinking are broken and the wings of unfettered growth are untied.
PIVOT POINT CHALLENGE
The challenge is in your mind.
You would think that the biggest challenge is finding your pivot point. It is not. The biggest challenge is to believe in it.
• It is not a bold, audacious goal, for there is no way to measure was has not yet been found.
• It is not a commitment to continuous improvement, for example, for this should be pursued without question.
• In fact, it is not even rational.
AN ACT OF FAITH
Belief in the pivot point is an act of faith
that you and your organization can discover something so important that it will forever change the way you do business.
It is an instinctive response to an inner belief that something significant awaits your discovery.
THE TWO CRITICAL QUESTIONS
The Pivot Point can occur anywhere in your organization, and the way to cut the task down to size is to focus on only two things, customers and competitors, and to ask these two questions:
DO THE UNCONVENTIONAL
- How can I make my company more attractive to my customers?
- How can I make my competitors less attractive to my customers?
Discovering The Pivot Point may be aided with traditional tools, like research. But these tools, and all other tools, are available to everyone. There is no competitive advantage in the tools.
So, we are challenging ourselves how to be smarter.
I believe the this will occur when we do the unconventional:
- First, to remove old, self-limiting beliefs.
- Then to look at the world with fresh eyes.
The pivot point is the permission to think the unthinkable and to rise above self-limiting thoughts, expectations, and beliefs.ARE YOU COMFORTABLE YOU WITH THIS "SOFT" ADVICE? If not, here are 20 concrete, conventional ways to acquire customers.
Image courtesy of dude-n-dude.com
Visit Starbucks, or another quality customer-oriented operation, and within the span of just a few minutes you will experience the secret of attracting and retaining customers. The biggest secret, however, is that the key to successful companies like Starbucks is executing the core essentials, and a lot of them in one place.
Here are my notes from a recent visit to Starbucks. (The customer acquisition marketing tips are highlighted in orange
I visited a local store (Islip, NY and always friendly-1. comfortable atmosphere
) to redeem an empty bag of their coffee purchased at a grocery store (2. cross-promoting
) for a free Tall of their brewed coffee that I enjoy at home (3. repeat incentive
) and also to check out the store after a remodel (4. newsworthy and 5. helps build the in-store experience
I found a product that I had been looking for, a single-serve French press called a Travel Press ( 6. a unique and 7. branded item that extends their product line
) that also serves as a drinking mug (8. utility-multiple product attributes
). This really simplifies having that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon (9. extended product attributes
) without having to brew a full carafe.MOVING BEYOND GREAT TO WOW
The server mentioned to me (10. suggestive selling training
) a relatively 11. new branded product called the Clover Brewing System
. Clover is a vacuum press idea (sort of an inverted French press using a vacuum) which pulls the coffee liquid away from the grounds rather than pushing the grounds away from the liquid (12. proprietary technology
). The end result is a ridiculously smooth cup of coffee without the oils or grounds that can seep into it (13. product superiority and 14. competitive advantage
). Go to their web page
for a delicious description with incredible detail (15. the details help position the product as superior
). POSITIONING THE CLOVER PRODUCT
Clover provides a case study in product positioning. It's been around for 5 years and only now is Starbucks ready to introduce it en masse. Here's what Andrew Linnemann
, Vice-President, Global Coffee Quality at Starbucks says about the rollout:"Over the last five years it took us a long time to figure out Clover and how it should work with our stores. What was the best store for a Clover? It had to be a high brewed-coffee store [as opposed to espresso-focused], and stores that had a customer affinity for a different cup of brewed coffee," said Linnemann. "We needed an area that was customer-centric, had a lower counter, a place where everyone can see it work with the grinder, and not every store had that much space for that to happen."BEING DRAWN INTO THE EXPERIENCE
In the store the process is interesting to watch (16. customer experiential interaction and 17. a dynamic product demonstration
). A new bean product was recommended to me for use in the Clover. It's called Reserve (18. yes, another new, branded product line extension
), which is a premium product with a higher profit margin (19. improves the profitability mix
). The server grinds the beans, places the ground coffee into the machine, you watch the process then enjoy a great cup of coffee. (20. More display and presentation.
)THE ULTIMATE REWARD-FREE
Since I was already enjoying a Tall cup of their new Blonde product (21. yet another relatively new product and brilliantly named
) I was offered a free trial from the Clover (22. yes, my second free cup and a perfect trial tactic
Experienced eyes will note that there is nothing new here that would rewrite the marketing text books. This includes the introduction of new products which is one of the most powerful customer acquisition strategies. The key takeaway is the number customer-acquiring tactics or touch points that can be integrated into one short visit. HOW MANY TOUCH POINTS DO YOU OFFER YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS?Download this quick checklist to discover 20 more ways to become a customer magnate.
Trademarks mentioned in this article are the property of their respective owners.
Quick Start-Up Guide
If you are an experienced marketer with an established marketing plan this will be oversimplified. But if you are new to marketing planning, confused about where to start, and have a sense of urgency then this 10-Point Marketing Plan Starter Guide may be invaluable.
Of the three core marketing objectives (build customers, build sales and build brand image) building customers is the place to start for your first marketing plan. For example, you can build sales without adding customers by changing the sales mix. At the end of the day, however, unless you have a steady stream of new customers your business will wither and die.
If you don't have the time to hire an agency, hire a marketing person, or read a marketing textbook, this could be a good place to start.10-Point Marketing Planning Starting Guide.1. Be crystal clear about your business objective.
SInce we are focused on customer acquisition, you must know how many new customers you need. With the right software and tracking system, you should be able to monitor and document customer acquisition throughout the sales funnel.
By identifying your new customer objective you will be able to generate a very important number: customer lifetime value
. This number is important because it figures significantly into your return on marketing
calculation, and takes your eyes off of merely short-term results.2. Be crystal clear about your target customers.
The word "target" is literal, because you will be aiming messages and money at your target. Use all available resources to define your target customers. Typically, a business will have 3-5 different targets.
When defining your target customers, pay attention to where they hang out online and the media they consume.3. Set a realistic marketing budget for dollars and time.
There are two unforgivabe errors: over-spending and under-spending. While is it by no means easy to set a marketing budget, it is critical that you begin somewhere with a working budget. Keep in mind these factors:
- Industry average spending
- The aggressiveness of your business objective
- Your experience and knowledge base
Budgeting will help keep your evaluation of options focused and more productive.4. Separate your marketing and sales experience into three buckets:
A. Actions that have been proven over time to produce results, backed up by hard numbers.
B. Actions you believe, through experience, to be effective but without the numbers to backup your belief.
C. Forces that appear to be operating in your competitive environment that you have no way of validating.5. Decide on the nature of your planning options
by determining where you personally stand on these two planning approaches:
A. Defensive vs. Offensive
Will you be defending against competition, which might signal that you are more concerned about retaining customers than acquiring new ones; or will you actively go after competition?
B. Conservative vs. Aggressive
Do you favor proven approaches with less risk (such as mimicking competitors' marketing efforts) or are you inclined to try new strategies that will employ tools that you haven't used before.?
This has important implications about messaging. Will your message be unique or commonplace?6. Open your marketing toolbox and determine:
7. Match your marketing tools and acquisition goals to each of your targets
- What tools you have experience with
- What tools you need more information about
, then roll these up in a timeline with a budget. At its simplest, you will have a monthly marketing plan chart with activities, goals, and investment.8. Review your marketing plan chart to ensure adequate time for development.
This will have you working backwards, and may require you to re-think the plan. The reason this follows the overall plan (#7) is because this step is time-consuming and energy-draining, and may discourage you from moving forward.9. Be hands-on with implementation.
Make it your job to ensure that everyone else is doing their job. Marketing plans can be complex and details forgotten or overlooked.10. Be quick to make contingency plans.
In addition to monitoring-evaluating-changing your marketing plan over time, identify the areas that show signs of underperformance and immediately make contingency plans.What about design/graphics/ websites/social media/email?
These are all important, but to focus on these at this point could distract you from the bigger picture which is an integrated marketing plan built to accomplish specific business objectives. These are all tools to add to your marketing toolbox, when you need them. Now, get started.Want to dive a litter deeper into customer acquisition? Download this quick 20-point guide.