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The Future of Marketing Is Organizing Behavior

I made the following statement in some social channels recently – “The future of marketing is less about demand creation and more about organizing behavior.”

The comment stirred quite a reaction. Many people fervently agreed while others simply wanted to know more. So, here’s what I mean by that statement.

The foundation of inbound marketing is based on the notion that people need to be drawn in to your marketing funnel by way of content – that you need to be found rather than go out hunting. And, while this has proven effective, many marketers simply interpret this to mean you create more demand by creating more content.

The problem with this thinking is that it’s really just the age old marketing funnel approach polished up with more information.

Today, marketing is about guiding a journey that the buyer wants to take rather than forcing them into the journey that fits our business model.

People don’t really need more information, they need insight, they need guidance and they need an experience that allows them to behave like they want to behave.

Over the years I’ve identified seven behaviors that most buyers desperately want to experience on their way to becoming loyal customers. Organizations that get this and create and organize opportunities for people to experience these behaviors at any point along the journey will win.

Buyers want to travel an often crooked path that allows them to:

  • Know – They want to give permission to the companies they want to know
  • Like – They want to learn to like and respect companies that might be addressing their needs in a way that makes sense to them
  • Trust – They want to see that their friends and others they relate to have come to trust certain organizations for a variety of reasons
  • Try – They want to be able to prove to themselves that buying from certain organization won’t make them look foolish
  • Buy – They want to discover that there are companies that make the buying experience as awesome as the marketing experience
  • Repeat – They want to develop ties to organizations they can count on and that allow them to forget about other options
  • Refer – They want to have such a remarkable experience with organizations that so exceed their expectations they are compelled to share with the world how smart they are

If organization are to address these behaviors, marketing, sales and service must participate as one in guiding the relationship. The traditional silo walls must come down. Sales must participate earlier in the buyer’s journey and stay later. Service must become more social and marketing must learn how to personalize content while bringing front line sales people into the creation of messaging and positioning.

Inbound marketing, outbound marketing, inbound selling and social service must overlap into every possible outpost on the buyer’s journey. Every marketing, sales and service initiative, process and campaign must be designed to organize the behavior the buyer desperately wants to experience.

hourglass functions

Use this grid to audit your own behavior and touchpoints looking for opportunities and gaps.

 

 

 

Why Your Competitors Are Winning

Most markets have competition. A competitor may come in the form of a highly visible organization down the street that hopes to attract the same customers as you, with essentially the same offerings, or it may come from a seemingly unrelated source vying from your customer’s limited resources – a plumber may lose business to an HVAC contractor when someone decides to upgrade the air conditioning unit over the hot water heater.

marketing hourglass

photo credit: Umberto Fistarol via photopin cc

Smart marketers employ some form of competitive research in an effort to better understand what products and services, pricing models and value propositions they are up against.

But, often, that’s where it stops. The problem with focusing solely on “before” the sale elements is that it gives a limited view of reality. Website copy, pricing and promotions may not give a single clue as to why your competitors are routinely winning business over you.

In fact, studying a competitor from this vantage only, often leads to making the wrong decision in reaction to what you find – our competitor is running a sale, so we need to lower our price. Our competitor is offering a new service so we must react and copy the offering.

If you’re losing business to a competitor or can’t seem to grab any market share from their grasp, there’s a really good chance that they’re beating the dickens out of you through the things they do during and after the sale is made.

While you’ve focused on their SEO, social and direct mail lead generation offers you’ve totally missed the fact that they make buying from them a joy. They’ve removed all friction in the sales process and actually made it something valuable. They have a low-cost trial offering and a rock solid, no questions asked guarantee.

They’ve created a smooth orientation process that educates and sets proper expectations for each new customer. They continue to communicate and educate after the sale. They go back at a preset time and make sure a great result occurred. They find out what else needs to be done, how to do it better and how to collaborate more fully.

They surprise their customers on their birthday, send hand-written notes of appreciation, invite them to valuable education events, facilitate peer-to-peer networking events and introduce them to partners that can successfully add value in other areas.

I write often about something I call the Marketing Hourglass and it’s a framework that can be applied as a competitive research tool as well as business and promotional strategy.

The idea behind the Marketing Hourglass is that you look at your business and marketing efforts with an eye on logically guiding your prospects and customers on a journey through seven logical steps – know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

Each step requires multiple forms of content, touchpoints, processes and even products and services as a way of doing business. (You can read more on the Marketing Hourglass here and here.)

Now, imagine if you applied this principle to your competitive research. Imagine if you went beyond their website and advertising and dug into their customer experience looking for all the little things that their customers just love. Imagine if you experienced what it was like to become their customer, what their follow-up looked and felt like, what they did that surprised and delighted you.

What if you applied the Marketing Hourglass to your competitors as well as your business?

The good news is you will likely find some gaps – places where they aren’t effectively guiding the customer journey. If this doesn’t help spotlight the places where you have extreme opportunity, I don’t know what will.

Now, a word of warning here – competitive research of this nature is not simply another invitation to copy your competitors – it’s your chance to see the impact that focusing on customer experience before, during and after the sale.

Once you get good at this way of thinking you can apply it to any business, regardless of industry, and discover the best marketing practices of leading businesses everywhere.

You can even apply this process to a prospective new business client as a way to better understand that prospect and the gaps in their processes that are holding them back.

Once you embrace this holistic view you can proactively initiate new processes, procedures and experiences that your competitors will find it very hard to mimic.

How to Deliver Extreme Value Through a Collaborative Sales Process

Today’s sales process must be bathed in collaboration.

The Sales HourglassThe idea of a “sales process” is not a new one, most sales people either figure something out that works and it become the de facto process for them or their organization hands down and trains around a specific method or moving a lead from inquiry to close.

A sales process is really little more than a standardized set of steps that are turned into a process in order to create consistency.

The most common approach goes something like this – a prospect demonstrates interest, the salesperson digs for pain, presents a solution, handles objections, proposes a purchase, wrestles with terms, handles more objections and goes in for the close.

Some firms have embraced a more “adaptive” approach, which centers around zeroing in on understanding and controlling the buying process itself – how a buying decision is made, what selection criteria is used, how benefits are quantified and, most importantly, how funding for the purchase is allocated.

An alternative to either of the approaches above is to be the organization or individual who defines the problem to begin with. Rather than winning the fight for “why choose us,” how about controlling the fight for “why choose anything.”

Entering the Marketing Hourglass

Over the course of the last decade I’ve championed a marketing process I call the Marketing Hourglass.

The basic concept is to broadly design your marketing initiatives with an eye on logically moving prospects and clients through seven stages: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

The Marketing Hourglass guides the prospect on a journey and creates the right opportunity – a prospect first comes to know about your firm or solution as an option and then moves, in many cases unguided, through a series of intentional steps provided to build like, or even belief, leading to the trust required to actually engage a firm.

Traditionally the middle of the hourglass – the try and buy phase – is where the sales team steps in. I believe one of the core responsibilities of sales professionals today is to insert themselves earlier and later in the buying process so they can personalize the journey before, during and after the sale.

The shape of the Hourglass actually draws upon this notion that the job of sales is much broader in the phases prior to and after a sale and only gets more narrowly focused during the try and buy phases required to make a sale.

At this point the individual sales professional must introduce a unique process I call the Sales Hourglass.

Introducing the Sales Hourglass

The Sales HourglassTM is a set path that a salesperson can operate in conjunction with marketing in an effort to help a prospect become engaged in the specific process of buying.

Think of the Sales Hourglass as your individual prospect playbook – The tool that will help you tailor your sales method for each client. One of the greatest benefits of a structured tool such as this is that it keeps you focused on the next step, even if that next step is the decision to pursue other opportunities.

Merely demonstrating the Sales Hourglass process to a prospect will allow you to stand out as it introduces valuable steps not often taken by traditional sales professionals. The Sales Hourglass process (no matter what you decide to call it) is in itself a valuable teaching tool. I believe that these steps actually demonstrate not only a better way to sell, but also a better way to buy.

The key difference between the two hourglass applications is that while the Marketing Hourglass is broadly cast at an ideal client persona or description, the Sales Hourglass is focused on an individual prospect or need and operated at this much more personal level.

Another core difference is that the journey through the Sales Hourglass must be based on the mutually agreed upon notion that you and the buyer are prepared to determine there is no journey to be had at all.

The logical steps along the Sales Hourglass are as follows: (I’ve placed the steps from the Marketing Hourglass in parenthesis along side each step to highlight the somewhat parallel paths.)

The Sales Hourglass7 Stages of the Sales Hourglass

Explore (Know) – The explore phase is, as it suggests, the place where you’ll conduct your own research such as discovering the elements of an organization’s community, constructing stakeholder maps and uncovering problems that you can make visible.

This step can be started in response to a sales request, but it must be conducted not simply in response, but as an opportunity to explore the best possible solution or path, even if it differs or contests the stated directive from a prospect.

Collaborate (Like) – The next step in the progression is to take what you’ve learned and assumed in the exploration state and start talking about innovations with a prospect.

At this point, you’re simply discussing higher-level ideas, but don’t be surprised if you start finding out things that your organization doesn’t want to hear. Things like I need your products to do X or why can’t anyone figure out how to solve Y? The good news is that simply asking for and receiving this kind of information will make you more valuable to your clients and to your organization.

The collaboration phase consists of sketching ideas and solutions that perhaps don’t exist anywhere as of yet and getting a prospect to think about how these ideas might impact their success. This process takes some guts because the best possible outcome may not be available through you, but I believe the long-term game is always served when you deliver value no matter what the package.

Design (Trust) – The next step is to take what you’ve learned while exploring and collaborating and begin to design a solution with your customer and with your company. I know this may actually sound ridiculous if you’ve come up in a world driven by a catalog and inventory levels, but winning in today’s sales environment takes creating custom solutions that reach beyond a set of specs and push customers to think beyond rigid solutions to employ new ways to use technology, social sharing and collaboration as innovations that move them forward.

Imagine if you changed your mindset from “sell what I have to sell” to “anything is possible” in terms of creating a successful customer journey? This is the ultimate trust building activity and changes the content of what you have to sell while certainly changing the context of the role of a salesperson.

Define (Try) – You’ve effectively crafted a solution with and for your prospect and the job now turns to defining how the solution will be structured, delivered, implemented and paid for. This is the closest thing there is to a proposal and given the careful execution of the preceding steps this is where the deal is inked. As the design of the solution was collaborative there is no closing involved – the customer essentially accepts a reality they helped to create.

This is not to suggest there won’t be a great deal more work to do. Perhaps the solution you co-created needs a sponsor to gain budget, perhaps many more stakeholders need to weigh in on and understand the implications of this new approach and even your primary contact may begin to question certain elements of the vision, but the beauty of this initial approach is that you’ve essentially distanced direct competitors from the mix.

Deliver (Buy) – In many organizations, once a deal is inked the salesperson’s job is done. Customer service, project teams or delivery experts take over. There are many practical and real reasons for this kind of hand-off, but I believe the true expansion of your value comes from staying very active with the client after the sale.

This may very well require extra time and effort on your part, but if you and your client started this journey you’re probably more equipped to make sure you either end up at the destination or take side trips that make sense.

At the very least, design, in conjunction with your marketing folks, an orientation process that allows you to elegantly move the process to other team members or departments.

If you want to build a reputation for delivering value you can’t ever abdicate the progress of the journey.

Measure (Repeat) – Quite often the value of a solution can’t be easily measured, and yet, it’s an essential element. The Sales Hourglass performance operates at a much higher level when you become obsessed with measuring, analyzing and communicating the value your customers receive.

There are many positive outcomes from taking this course. You can discover instances in which a client did not receive what they expected. See that these are addressed and your reputation for delivering value will soar. You can discover instances in which a client received extreme value. Just understanding the relationship between measurable value and cost will make you much more prepared to have confident discussions with prospects regarding pricing issues,

You can discover instances in which you client received exactly what they expected. Helping your client actualize these results reinforces the value of working with you, leads to additional positive contacts and opens the door for additional opportunities.

You must find a way to make a review of results part of your Sales Hourglass.

Engage (Refer) – It’s amazing how often sales professionals neglect to engage past customers until it’s time to reorder or time to review a contract. Frequently re-engaging customers through continued education and exploration is what leads to the discovering of new opportunities, new introduction and referrals.

The beauty of delivering such amazing value before, during and after the transaction is that you’ll be seen, not as a pesky salesperson checking in, but as a valued contributor or consultant.

The Sales Hourglass is a powerful sales methodology, but it does not need to be viewed as a process strictly employed the “sales” department. The Sales Hourglass is essentially a teaching process and is equally effective in the hands of business development, customer service, technical support and HR. In fact, many firms could benefit from using this methodology with internal stakeholders to create more collaborative buy in for things like new technology deployment and annual priority setting.

7 Steps To Sure Fire Marketing Success

Here’s my take on business.

Every business is simply a set of systems and marketing just happens to be the most important of these systems.

Few business owners have trouble thinking in terms of business systems for things like building their product, paying the bills, providing a service, hiring an employee – all the operations kind of things.

When it comes to marketing, however, all systems thinking comes to a halt, because “that’s a creative art,” that vexes even the most seasoned entrepreneur types.

Fact is, marketing is indeed a business system and approaching and operating it as such helps to remove any and all mystery about its function in your business and allows you to create consistent, predictable results from the operation of your marketing system.

Below are the seven elements that make the creation of your personalized marketing system a snap.

1) Commit to Strategy Before Tactics

Until you can narrowly define the exact person, business or problem that constitutes your ideal client and uncover a way to communicate a truly unique point of differentiation to said ideal client, your business will fall prey to the marketing tactic of the week syndrome.

When you have a clear sketch of who you must attract and a clear message that allows you to communicate why your product or service produces greater value than every other option, you don’t have a marketing strategy.

Do not pass go until your business possesses an authentic marketing strategy. Once you do, you then must commit to using that strategy as the filter for every marketing decision that follows – including product/service mix, pricing, identity elements, customer service and hiring. You can find more on my approach to marketing strategy here.

2) Map Your Marketing HourglassTM

The marketing funnel approach of loading lots of leads into a marketing process aimed at squeezing a few through the small end is fundamentally broken these days.

Yes, you still need to get in front of prospects, but the greatest source of lead generation these days is a happy customer. The idea behind the hourglass shape is that as you gain a customer you immediately go about intentionally turning that customer into a referral champion.

You accomplish this by mapping out all the products, services and processes required to move a prospect through the seven phases of the Marketing Hourglass: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

Simply take a high level look at your business today and map out all of the current and potential touchpoints opportunities your have with prospects and clients and fill the gaps with marketing driven experiences. You can find more on the Marketing Hourglass here.

3) Create a Content Road Map

The term content conjures up a great deal of frustration with business owners, mainly because it’s vague enough to be misinterpreted and cited by experts enough to create exhaustion.

The idea of content in marketing isn’t simply a generic way to refer to your need to blog, it’s a strategic approach to creating the assets your business needs to communicate strategy and facilitate lead generation and conversion.

With that description in mind, you need to view your approach to content creation much like a publisher armed with an annual table of contents, otherwise known as a list of important keyword search phrases.

Your content creation plan must be very intentional and must be installed as an ongoing practice instead of viewed as a one-time event. Your plan must include provisions for content that builds trust, content that educates, customer generated content, other people’s content and content that converts. You can find a deeper discussion of these five types of content here.

4) Build a Total Web Presence

No longer is it enough to build a Website and expect to compete these days. Prospects, even those that are looking to do business locally, turn to search engines to find every kind of business and solve every kind of problem.

Today’s marketers need to approach the Web with an eye on creating the largest presence possible in order to stand out, or merely show up, when a prospect goes hunting for a solution.

Building an online listening station, optimizing brand assets in sharing services, claiming valuable social and local network real estate, participating in ratings and review sites, and maximizing social media activity are the foundational elements of total web presence building.
This is how you begin to make your content strategy pay. This is how you begin to activate the know, like and trust elements of your Marketing Hourglass.

5) Mix and Match Your Lead Generation

Active lead generation comes about through multiple touches initiated through multiple channels.

There is rarely one dependable way to generate all of the leads a business might require to meet objectives. It’s the careful blending of advertising, public relations and systematic referral generation that creates the repetition, credibility and control needed to get a prospect motivated enough to pick up the phone or schedule an appointment.

The key to making this blended approach work, however, is the commitment to valuable, education-based content distribution. Advertising that promotes content gets viewed, a referral made by way of content gets action, and PR generated by way of content gets shared.

6) Orchestrate a Lead Conversion Process

If you’ve followed the steps outlined so far in this system, your prospects aren’t really sold so much as they become ready to buy. In order to continue the experience your marketing has promised to date you must also give intentional marketing driven consideration to the steps in your lead conversion process.

What is your systematic response when a prospect requests more information? What is your systematic method for communicating how you deliver value? What is your plan to nurture leads in your hourglass? How will you orient a new customer? What is your plan for measuring the results a customer actually received?

A fully developed lead conversion process doesn’t consider a sale complete until the customer receives the expected result.

7) Live by the Calendar

The basic premise behind the notion of a system is continuous operation. You can’t build a marketing system and hope to be done at some point.

There are elements that you may build and use continuously, but the fact is that operating your marketing system must become habit.

You must map out a year’s worth of projects, campaigns and processes and break each month into a theme, each project into weekly action steps and each day into right marketing activity.

By creating a marketing vision that is scheduled and calendared you create the framework that allows everyone in the organization to participate and see in very tangible ways the path that the organization, and perhaps more specifically the marketing system, is intended to trod.

How to Create the Ultimate Customer Experience

Everyone talks about creating a great customer experience, but few people really deliver one that’s special in any way. Creating an exceptional customer experience is pretty simple really – you only need to do one thing – pay attention.

Customer Touchpoint Map

Click to Download Map Form

Okay, I know you want more than that so I’ll expand on this thought and then break it back down again.

We lose customers and erode what could be a great customer experience when we fail to pay attention to every possible way that our business comes into contact with a customer, or for that matter, a prospect.

Everyone works in the marketing department

No matter what department bumps into a customer in the name of your business that department is performing a marketing and overall customer experience function.

So you see Stan from Accounting is equally capable of creating or ruining a great customer experience as Sandy from Customer Service, but I wonder how often you pay attention to that fact.

There’s plenty of evidence out there to suggest that our perceived experience with a company is often formed by our last contact, not the first impression, put on your Sunday best, marketing contact we’ve had.

Map the touchpoints

One of the most potent tools you can create for your business is something I call a Customer TouchPoint Map. (Click to download sample map form) The idea behind this tool is to use it to chart every way your business comes into, or should come into, contact with a customer and then set out to make sure that each touchpoint is designed to create a better customer experience. (This dovetails nicely with our Marketing Hourglass)

See, we’ve been trained to think that the marketing department is the only place where marketing messages, brand flourishes and little things matter.

One of the most effective marketing things the Natural Running Store did for me as a customer is slip a handwritten note and some samples from strategic partners into the box of running shoes I purchased recently.

What if your invoices had humorous quotes related to how super-excited you were to present them with this representation of the value delivered in every order? What if you delivered products on a bike?

What if you made it a point to follow-up with every customer using a simple tool that made it easy for them to vote on how good of a job you did? What if your CEO wrote hand-written notes of thanks?

What if you sent timely messages with videos educating customers on how to use or get more from their purchase? What if you included more than they expected?

What if you sent them flowers just because? What if your phone hold message wasn’t painful to listen too? What if you wrapped your shipments in works from local artists? What if . . .

All of the things mentioned above are examples of touches that could enhance your customer experience and get people talking, but it’s the collective focus on the entire map that really pays off.

It’s not really that hard, map it out – pay attention to how your business comes into contact with customers and make every touchpoint, with every department, thoughtful and downright enjoyable.

How to Get What You’re Worth

Price is a function of perceived value – yours and the client’s.

Lots of ingredients go into baking the perceived value cake, but for the most part, what you can charge for your products and services is a function of the value a buyer attaches to the purchase and you attach to your worth.

Price is a function of valueNow, what you can charge and what you actually charge is rarely the same thing. Far too many business owners undercharge because they feel price is purely a function of competition or worse they simply don’t value what they do enough to get what it’s worth.

This is as true for the Etsy seller making iPad covers as it is for the consultant providing high level advice.

In order to charge more and get what you’re worth you’ve got to take some time and get very serious about measuring one thing – value or results that a customer receives.

Here’s how to do that

Create a process that requires you to meet with every customer for something I call a “results review.” How you do this will depend on how you interact with your customers – the key, however, is to position this process as a valuable to the customer and not as research for you.

I would advise you to present the idea in the selling stages - “we know you’re going to receive incredible value and part of the way we deliver on that promise is a results review that ensures it.”

Your results review must be seen as a way for you to ensure the customer received the value promised and measure actual value. It’s also a great place to ask for referrals!

One of two things will generally happen in these reviews a) you’ll find you didn’t deliver, and that’s okay, because that’s how you fix and improve b) you’ll discover a tangible amount of value the customer received and that’s awesome, because that can act as proof of value delivered and should give you the confidence to raise your prices.

Either way, this must be considered an integral part of the overall client experience and a wonderful gauge of where you and how you get better.

Installing a Selling System

weakest link

Image Credit: _-=Dreemreeper=-_ via Flickr

When asked to consult with a business, and challenged to make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time, I always go to work on lead conversion first.

Lack of any asemblance of a systematic approach to selling is the biggest weakness for most small businesses. The focus of marketing is almost always on generating more leads. While leads are certainly important, the obsession with generating them consumes a significant amount of time and money.

Installing a sales system, one that everyone involved in selling in the organization operates, is the fastest way to improve overall marketing results. (I’m assuming you’ve also narrowly defined your ideal client, created a significant way to differentiate your business, and are consistently building trust through educational content.)

The end result with every business I’ve ever worked with was that we dramatically reduced the number of leads they were chasing (decreased expense) while also dramatically increasing the number leads they were converting to customers (increased revenue.) I’ve seen lead conversion rates go from 3% to over 50% when all of the parts of a total marketing system work together.

If you’re moving prospects logically through what I call the Marketing HourglassTM you will see that by the time they get serious about a buying decision they’ve already sold themselves. This approach almost makes selling a non issue and delivers stunningly high conversion rates.

Below are the essential ingredients needed to operate your lead conversion system

  • Discovery – You must have a planned response when a lead asks for more information. I know this sounds obvious, but few businesses do more than react. In order to move prospects you must have a call to action, education plan, and filter that helps qualify and direct leads to the next step. This is a significant step and one that can help you stop chasing the wrong leads while also giving your an opportunity to create a unique experience. Interrupt the norm for your industry here and you’ll help further cement how you’re different.
  • Presentation – Once a prospect determines they need to know more about your specific offerings, either by way of a demo or sales call, it’s important that you have a set way to present your organization. This is a point where many sales folks go out and try to answer the questions that prospects have. The problem with this approach is most prospects don’t know what questions they should have; so it’s really up to you to start adding value in the relationship by presenting what you know is useful, while also discovering their unique challenges. This is part scripted, part art, but it should be practiced consistently across the organization.
  • Nurturing – Depending upon the buying habits of your ideal customer or sales cycle for your particular industry, you will need a systematic approach for keeping leads that are starting an information seeking process warm as they move towards a buying decision. This is a place where technology can certainly help you make automated contacts via email or snail mail. Creating planned education events such as online seminars and peer-to-peer panel discussions is also another very effective way to nurture leads and continue to educate.
  • Transaction – For many in selling, the game ends when the customer says yes. Your lead conversion system must be created in a way that delivers the same experience once a prospect becomes a customer as was delivered throughout the courting period. The best way to do this is through a planned orientation process where you continue the educational approach by teaching the customer how to get the most from what they’ve agreed to buy. This can be through simple training video or a more elaborate new customer process, but this important step leads to a smooth transition from prospect to customer and often sets the tone for additional purchases and referrals.
  • Review - Your selling system won’t be complete until you create a process that allows you to measure and communicate the results your customers are experiencing. One of the best ways to do this is through some form of a planned results review process. By setting the expectation for this process up front you send a very strong signal that results matter, but you also get the opportunity to address issues that didn’t go as expected and collect client success stories and testimonials from your happiest clients.

The Marketing Funnel Is Broken

Marketing podcast with Joseph Jaffe (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

Marketers have used the metaphor of the marketing funnel for decades. The idea being to draw lots of leads into the very big open end of the funnel and communicate with them in ways that drove a few of them through the tiny customer end of the funnel. This model may have been useful in the days when broadcasting messages to drive leads was an effective approach, but today’s prospect must be generated in a much different fashion.

I’ve written for some time about a funnel replacement that I call The Marketing Hourglasssm as a way to demonstrate the focus on building know, like and trust with the ideal prospect and then turning that into total customer focus to expand try, buy, and refer.

Joseph JaffeIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast I spoke with Joseph Jaffe, author of the book Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones.

Jaffe takes the approach that by focusing on existing customers instead of obsessing over acquiring new ones marketers can actually find more success while spending less in the process.

In Jaffe’s words: When you consider customer acquisition for your business, think about this question for a moment: how much of your sales come from repeat business versus first-time customers? Now contrast that against how much money you spend against each segment. If you are embarrassed by the gaping disconnect, don’t worry; you are not alone.

While the examples Jaffe cites, including Comcast, Apple, The Obama Campaign, Dell, Panasonic, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, and Coca-Cola, are large organizations, the ideas in Flip the Funnel are very applicable to the smallest of businesses. A good customer experience leads to referrals and that concept is universal.