The Face Of Your New Customer

02Sep06

Face Of Your New Customer  

What I believe to be pivotal to your entrepreneurial success, is acknowledging ‘the face of your new customer.’ And this was what I had planned to tell you in my last post. 

Marketing communication is not what it used to be. Gone are the days where simple branding and advertising campaigns were enough to attract handsome profit windfalls for businesses. If you get a chance, try and get a comparison on ROI based on traditional marketing campaigns over maybe the past 2 years. What you will probably find is a declination in ROI from these campaigns.  The reason for this is simple. It is the current evolution of consumer behavior.

Consumers have evolved into a traditional marketer’s nightmare or what is more popularly known today as, customer evangelists (Ben Mcconnell and Jackie Huba have written a book specifically about this and it’s nothing short of insightful).  If you thought customers were a tough bunch to deal with before, well, you’ll be pleased to know that the cliché, ‘the customer-is-king’ rings truer today than ever before. In fact, with this new shift of power to consumers who are now defining brands specific to their wants, businesses that are unable to cope are gleefully sent to ‘The Customer Rules’ slaughterhouse.

Yes, a new regime has stepped in and customer loyalty is being redefined by customers themselves.

To get a better understanding of how a customer evangelist behaves, let’s turn to Ben Mcconnell’s and Jackie Huba’s ‘The Customer Evangelism Manifesto’ (you can download this 21-page manifesto for free from this site). The manifesto says this about the customer evangelist:

  •  They passionately recommend your company to friends, neighbors and colleagues.
  •  They believe in the company and its people.
  •  They purchase your products and services as gifts.
  •  They provide unsolicited praise or suggestions of improvement.
  •  They forgive occasional sub-par seasons or dips in customer service.
  •  They do not want to be bought; they extol your virtues freely.
  •  They feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Where once corporations were defining the value of their products, the customers of today are questioning its logic. It’s no secret that the Internet is responsible for giving rise to this consumer-centric culture, spawning a new breed of citizen marketers. The technology that consumers have at their disposalWhat's Left Of The CRM Team can propel any of the Fortune 500 into convening two emergency meetings – one with their overpaid lawyers and the other, to fire the entire customer relationship management team.

 

Like a bad habit, industry analysts have been quick to pigeonhole this technology that consumers have at their disposal. ‘Consumer-Generated Media‘ is what they’ve named it. Personally, I think the term stinks. I don’t know why exactly, it’s just a little too idiosyncratic in meaning for me. Fortunately, Henry Copeland feels the same way and has explained succintly, what I’m not able to.

This power-shift is not all doom and gloom for you though. In fact, if you can take the time to study the role today’s consumer has undertaken, and take complete advantage of their behavior gain his or her trust, you will reap the rewards – in larger quantities than you would’ve bargained for.

One company that seems to understand customer-centric selling and is proving it by doing it well, is Lexus. In ‘The Mind Of The Customer,‘ Richard Hodge and Lou Schachter expound on how Lexus, Nokia and UPS are evolving the art and science of their corporations’ selling process to match the changes in consumer behavior (there’s a hint for the aspiring Fortune 500-ers). The big boys have started to take notice and are doing something about it. Not all, but some (I will be highlighting companies in future posts, which are taking the right steps towards finding their way into the consumers’ good books. You can use them as your personal case-studies).

The Must-Have CustomerIn The Must-Have Customer: 7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got,’ Robert Gordman, a veteran in the business world, writes about creating a ‘sweet spot,’ that will propel your company from average, to industry leader. A case in point; Domino’s, whose ‘sweet spot’ is, “fresh, hot pizza delivered in thirty minutes or less, guaranteed.”  The ‘sweet spot’ is one of the keys to winning the customer you haven’t got. And not forgetting, keeping them too. The book is an eye-opening read, because like me, many of you may understand its concept, but few are able to implement it.

I would like to leave you with this excerpt from Robert Gordman’s book:

“Success in business is not about beating the competition; it’s about serving your customers. Over the past decade Wal-Mart has been blamed for the untimely deaths of hundreds of small merchants. I disagree. In my view it’s really more a question of suicide than murder. The grim reality is that most of the small retailers tried to compete directly with Wal-Mart on price (which no one can do), and killed themselves in the process. The smart retailers–and there are plenty–however, didn’t see Wal-Mart as a competitor at all. Instead, they identified a must-have customer who was more interested in quality, service, reliability, or any factor other than price. They repositioned their business to serve those customers in a unique way, and they thrived. Today, retailers wait in line and pay premium rents to be next to a Wal-Mart. Next time you drive by one, see if you can find an empty store in the same shopping center.”

Source: Robert Gordman (2006). In The Must-Have Customer: 7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got. Truman Talley Books.

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