Because empty pick-up lines won’t get you very far…
Authenticity is often hard to come by. We spend so much time working an angle to present a particular “front” as to who we are, what we know and the impression we want to leave that we miss out on the opportunity for personal growth and meaningful interactions. Authenticity is hard face to face let alone online in marketing and social media channels. The viewers on the other end of your Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter feed are real people who respond to authenticity, transparency and your story. They don’t appreciate being sold to, they want honesty, integrity and genuine interaction from a brand or product. Geoff Beattie, Head of Corporate Affairs at Cohn & Wolfe has some great insight and data on this trend. Read his take on it and let us know what you think. Have you seen this in your own customer interactions?
When it comes to reworking your marketing strategy, it helps to step back and take a look at your customer life-cycle. What is the length, arc and nature of their relationship with your brand? Is it consistent or is it peppered with ups and downs? Like any relationship, the quality is determined by the communication and time spent on that relationship. It needs authenticity. It needs time. It needs cultivation.
Consider these 6 phases in your customer life-cycle.
- Prospective Customer – The goal is to make them aware of your product, brand, company and then peak their interest. Once you have their attention, you can convert them into an active customer. You wouldn’t propose the first time you met someone, would you?
- New Customer – This is the early phase of “dating”. You have sold the customer on your good looks, charm and personality and started a relationship but the relationship is fragile. The customer isn’t ready for a long-term commitment so it’s up to you to build the relationship with honesty, integrity and authenticity. The quality of your product or service and customer service will matter. Can you successfully court your customer?
- Active Customer – Congratulations! Your prospective customer has been converted into a paying customer. Now, it’s time to pull out the tux and go all out. You will need to impress them with the quality of your product as well as work on your listening skills. Follow up with them, listen to their concerns, ask them questions and engage them. Everyone wants a relationship where they feel loved and valued.
- Loyal Customers – Woo Hoo! This is it. This is that exclusive relationship you have been searching for your entire life. You have woo’ed, crooned and spoiled your customer with a quality product, with excellent customer service and with a relatively aggressive, yet authentic relationship based approach to engagement. You have caught their attention and won their heart. Congrats! Remember to maintain this relationship with ongoing communication so they remember why they loved you in the first place.
- Lapsed Customers – Getting lazy in your relationship? Forget to call, email or check in often? With so much competition in your market this can easily happen. Don’t despair! A lapsed customer can be short-term lapsed, long-term lapsed or just “seasonally lapsed”. This is where the cultivation part kicks in. Don’t take them for granted!
- Abandoned Customers – Oh No! Did you lose the love of your life? At this point in the cycle, your customer no longer interacts or purchases from you. This can happen because of a bad customer service experience, lack of support, lack of new products or incentives or a lack of authenticity in your communication. No one likes to be talked to. Sometimes they just get lured away and are distracted by another competitor’s products or brand or simply need an incentive to come back. If you have spent time and money towards acquiring a customer it makes financial sense to keep them as customers. It is cheaper to up sell a new product or service to an existing client than it is to go find new ones. This phase can be avoided with careful planning and strategy development.
The best thing about understanding the customer life cycle is that you can make changes to your communication and marketing strategy to lengthen and improve the relationship. Authenticity can go a long way to relationship bliss.