The Fire Hose
Keeping up with the “fire hose” of the things I’m interested in is enough of a challenge. Add to that the, shall we say, “Dynamic” nature of my business of consulting in digital marketing, and it’s easy to see how specialization takes place. Being a generalist in any area, while of some value, limits your effectiveness with your customers….especially if your customers have wildly divergent businesses.
Granted, there’s a lot I bring to the table for them. As a rule, the business owners and entrepreneurs I work with are totally focused on their business passions and a number ore still working on become viable. They are all aware of the need for marketing, but having constrained resources (the usual 3: time, money, and personnel….many are solo-preneurs…) they try to start by doing it by themselves. A few searches on Google for resources or tips, a Facebook page, maybe a web site, and some even have a customer list they turn into an email list. By and large, they quickly realize that it’s possible to spend a LOT of resources and not seem to make much, if any, headway…
So, a couple more Google searches, maybe try to read a book on it, and, if they are part of a decent local business network, maybe asking a couple of colleagues what they are doing. They try tweaking a few things and wait a week (most of us are pretty impatient…..). Nothing seems to happen, or, maybe they get a “blip” in business….HOORAY!!!!
“So, ummmm…..what exactly did I do that caused that blip? Can I do it again, only better? How can I grow this into something that will drive my business?”
All good questions….
However, what I want to look at in this article is the work you do to “keep up” on your business. I will share with you a few things I do regularly to make sure I can be of the highest value to my existing and future clients.
The best way to find out what your customers are looking for from you is ASK THEM, Right?! Well, that’s the message this week.
I’ve written frequently about the importance of really listening to your customers and acting on what you hear. Now you have your chance to participate, and I have a chance to “Walk The Talk”: I am announcing the first ever survey for my blog. The objective is to provide you with more of the kind of information and conversation you actually find valuable to you and your business.
As I look at the articles for this year that have been the most read, the Top Five are:
The deeper I get into the research concerning customer loyalty and engagement, the more it is pounded into me that it centers on Customer Experience (CX for short). The kicker about CX is that, while there are certain common factors and processes that carry across most customers and audiences, it really is an individual experience with you and your business. What does this mean?
First let’s look at the percentage of Loyal customers / audience you already have. Recent studies propose that you may have between 8%-15% customers that can be considered Loyal (your mileage may vary, especially given the differences in businesses: e.g. a coffee shop may have a greater opportunity for “regular” loyalty than a real estate office…). Let’s posit that your customers (a) DO have the opportunity, given your product / service, to purchase from you again within 12 months (and can certainly REFER you at any time!), and (b) this product /service is of value to them and at a fair price. The end-to-end CX for them has been better-than-just-positive overall, hence their loyalty. Their post-purchase experience has also been “positive+” (better than just OK…).
As it turns out, that bit is very important!
Loyalty, always a high-sounding word, is ever more in the news and on our minds.
Whether it’s loyalty to a sports team, a political cause or ideology, a leader, a brand, a long-standing relationship, a coffee shop, or the family doctor, we seem to be more concerned with it and discuss it more than ever before.
I’ve been doing (and continue to dig into…) research on loyalty. Specifically, I am interested in:
- What the drivers are for customer loyalty to businesses
- How these drivers relate to relationship and dialogue stages
- Factors / components that are online, off-line, and a blend of the two
- Other components or influences that I have yet to uncover
While this will not be the “Unified Theory of Loyalty” (with apologies to physicists everywhere….), I wish to come to a clearer understanding of what establishes, builds and maintains this stance in customers and people in general. Humans are complex, absolutely unique individuals who, nonetheless, exhibit certain related behaviors and tendencies. If this were not so, the social sciences would have to just fold up their collective tents and take up hospitality management.
As I continue to research this topic and make discoveries, I will be writing about them here first. The eventual end-product is likely to be a paper, some podcasts, a video or two….likely a combination of all of the above.
So stay tuned!
Now, having gotten the preface out of the way, let me get to the first bit:
“It’s not just a Job….It’s an Adventure!”
That was a marketing tag line for the U.S. Navy a number of years ago. A frequent comment among my fellow sailors at the time was “Is this the job part or the adventure part?”
The whole of these two concepts came up to me recently in a conversation I had with a mentor of mine. We were going over his long career, and he mentioned that he felt he never really had a JOB. I asked him what he meant, and he shared that his idea of a job was something that you pretty much had to drag yourself to, every day, like it or not. There was not much life in it, and any correlation between it and the conviction that he was doing something good, right, and worthwhile was nonexistent, or, at best, extremely minimal. He felt that all that he had done never went to the level of being a JOB for him.
After about four hours of dialogue and catching up (I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years…), I drove away mulling over this idea.
Did I ever have a JOB, by this definition?
Then you are interested in what they think of you, since that will drive not only whether they purchase your product or service, but other things, too. Like:
- What do think of your product / service?
- Will they buy again?
- How will you know what they think unless they tell you?
- What kind of review will they give you (on-line or off-line)?
- What kind of influence will their experience have on how others think of you?
The basic ideas behind Customer Experience (or CX as it has come to be known) have been around for awhile. Think about when you walk into an office or a store of some kind. The initial impression of location, attractiveness, and the employees’ attitude towards you all contribute to the CX. It could be all over the place as to your experience, but that was, and is, a huge part of it In Real Life (IRL, for those of you who like acronyms…).
The Priority of Place
I recently wrote
about how the things you actually spend time on uncover your priorities. A colleague of mine noted that what you spend money on does the same thing, which is partially true. There are a number of things you spend money on that are not discretionary, like food (if you are fortunate enough to have the money for food…).
Other interesting indicators of priority are your decisions made in the midst of radical change.
I recently read an article in the Guardian
by a professor at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. I should say ‘former professor’
, as the college just closed after operating since 1889. Rensselaer, IN has a population of just under 6,000 souls and is definitely NOT
a place you might expect a college to be. Ranked as a “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review and U.S News, it nonetheless announced on February 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend operations at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. The article’s author, Jon Nichols, rightly interprets that to mean “Students: transfer now; Faculty & employees: you will need a new job soon.”
Mr. Nichols doesn’t want to move.