It’s Time to Start Dating Your Customers

Published by: Meredith Thornton    |   Category: Blog, Business, Marketing, Sales    

Dating Your CustomersImagine walking into a bar and immediately proposing to the first person that catches your eye. Unless you have the body of David Beckham or the lips of Angelina Jolie, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that your approach to finding a life-long partner is a bit skewed. And I bet you would agree with me. As we all know, dating can be extremely exhausting. It’s a large investment of time, money, and emotions in your search for “the one” that makes it all worthwhile in the end. What it all boils down to is that the world of dating and the world of marketing are one in the same. I am not suggesting that you pursue romantic relationships with your most valued customers, as that could lead to sexual harassment charges that could do more damage to your business reputation than it’s worth. What I am suggesting is that you should align your approach to dating with your approach to marketing.

The problem with marketers today is that we go straight for the gold. We are attempting to go fishing without bait. We tend to interrupt customers and try to sell them our products and services without realizing that, without offering some kind of incentive to spark the conversation, they have no reason to pay attention to you. This is essentially equivalent to proposing marriage before asking them on a second date.

Think about applying for a job, for instance. It’s a process. You can’t submit your resume on every job search website and expect to get hired on the spot. A well-crafted resume will earn you an introductory interview. Given that you are well-spoken and present yourself in a professional manner, you may get the opportunity to come in for a second or third interview. Once proper measures are taken to determine whether or not you are a right fit for the company, only then should you expect an offer. After paying hefty fees toward your schooling and investing your time in an effort to gain relevant work experience, you are now armed with the knowledge and expertise to enter into another line of work and eventually reap the rewards of your initial investment.

The same goes with marketing in that the customer acquisition costs far outweigh the customer retention costs. Take American Express, for example. This credit card company invests nearly $150.00 to get a new cardholder. Although this makes you wonder how they are still in business, it’s because they have adopted the permission-based marketing model to generate loyal customers who stick with them for the long term. Instead of approaching new customers with the intention of making a sale right off the bat, they woo their customers with an offer that they can’t resist. They focus their media efforts to sell their permission to engage in conversation, and have earned much higher response rates as a result. While $150.00 seems a bit steep at first glance, American Express leverages that expense by engaging in a continued, mutually beneficial relationship with their customers. Rather than exhausting their resources into selling their product pipeline to as many new customers as they can find, they extract the maximum value from each of their loyal customers.

Maintaining communication and follow-up with your existing customer database is probably one of the most overlooked sales tactics in the industry. In order to understand the importance of marketing to this subset of consumers, take a look at an article I wrote on August 15th entitled, Calculating the Value of Your Customer Database. It emphasizes how your current customers can be the biggest contributors to your bottom line.

But how do you initially open the lines of communication with those who want to hear from you? In this information age where owning a computer or smartphone is just as common as owning a toothbrush, we can target and reach business decision makers or consumers in around the globe through email marketing for a fraction of the cost of more traditional forms of advertising. As advances in technology have enabled us to track consumer interest and buying patterns online, we have the ability to choose who to target. As long as you provide something of value and demonstrate how it will enhance the lives of your audience, those who are interested in your offer will come to you for more information.

In addition, smart marketers acknowledge the fact that marketing does not end with the first sale. Rather, that’s where true marketing begins. Now, the question lies in finding the secret to keep our customers satisfied and wanting more. Not to keep referencing the dating analogy, but try to spice things up every now and then. Eventually, we all get sick of going for dinner and a movie.

Successful business lies in continually fine-tuning the products and services you offer while also expanding your selection to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of your client base. It means revamping your advertising strategy and adjusting your incentives to continually lure them in.

The bottom line? Sell more to fewer customers.

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2 Responses to It’s Time to Start Dating Your Customers

  1. Rick Noel says:

    Great article. I love exposing how crazy some online behavior is when comparing it to real life, offline situations. Customers want to be dated and they want to have a strong role in driving the engagement.

    Awesome headline and image too. “Putting lipstick on a pig” is one of my favorite expressions. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lisa Lehndorff says:

    I really liked this article and used it as the first post on my blog as I start Customer Support Services. Many companies are “speed dating” customers. It is one think to make a first impression but to be the company they’ll recommend or call again we need to continue to date customers and treat them as unique and special.
    Thanks, Lisa