When I speak to businesses about their marketing strategy, most assume the conversation will focus primarily on customer acquisition, helping spread the word on what they offer, why they are different and ultimately how to best drive sales. So when I ask about what they currently do to market to their existing customers, I’m often met with a blank stare – which if articulated would sound something like this: “Existing customers? Why would be spend more money to reach those people when we’ve already got them?” Or it might be dismissed as something of minor importance that could be handled by customer service if there were any issues.
This kind of comment is at best naïve, and at worst dangerous.
The future of marketing rests in understanding the powerful clout of your existing customer base, and their ability to influence opinions about your brand, much more effectively than you can yourself. They do that through word of mouth conversations in person and online, social media posts, referrals, recommendations and rating sites.
But here’s the kicker…
Content about a brand created by a consumer, in their own authentic voice, also receives 600% more engagement than content about the same product posted by the company.
Pause for a moment to process that. If a company post received 2 comments (let’s face it, some don’t even get that), a customer post would on average receive 12 comments. When you multiply the power of that additional reach, especially if it happens to be shared across multiple platforms, or offline, the difference is significant. And when you consider that the audience that came via the customer shared post was also “curated” by them – as a group that knows, likes and trusts what that person has to say, the power and leverage of that reach goes up exponentially again. Spice all this up with the presence of “fake news” and consumers questioning what content is real or legitimate, and we can start to see a perfect storm for consumer created content, shared by someone they already know, taking on a significant role in our marketing efforts.
How do we get more customer created content you may be asking?
By shifting your thinking about what marketing actually is. A good start would be to take exceptional care of that 10-15% of your customer base who are true loyalists. Some might even call this group – FANS. Do you know them by name? You should. Give them the tools to be a referral engine for your brand or business. Show some love and appreciation. Hit on their emotional triggers. That’s why it’s so important to know who they are, so you can create memorable moments which they will want to talk about and share with others. These tactics also work beyond the true loyalists, since at the core, people trust people. Whatever ANY existing customer says about you matters.
What this all comes down to is, people trust people, and in particular people trust people they know. Which means that the best marketing you can do, is to manage every touch-point of the customer journey to eliminate friction, and while doing that, create memorable moments. It’s a totally different spin on marketing – and frankly it requires a cultural shift to do it really well. But the effort can pay off in spades.
Letting customers do you marketing for you is an act of trust and letting go of traditional marketing functions. And with so few companies having figured this all out, there is huge opportunity for those who actually get it. Do you?