Why Keeping Customers Happy Is the New Lead Generation

This is a guest post by John Jantsch, President, Duct Tape Marketing

(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on DuctTapeMarketing.com.)

It used to be that we could go out there and hunt down new leads and customers with a measured precision. We found a message that worked, chose a medium that reached the right folks, tested, measured, refined and BINGO! – we’d turn on the tap to growth.

And then a couple of things happened. Our prospects developed tools wise enough to block and ignore our messages, social media platforms turned the equation into a dialogue vs. a monologue, and the worst recession in years crippled our prospects’ confidence.

Customer churn — something that might have been acceptable at some point in your trajectory — is devastating in today’s market reality.

Today, a lost customer costs you in two very significant ways. First, replacing a customer has become harder to do. But second (and perhaps more importantly), a happy customer is the greatest lead generation tool available to you. A thrilled customer is the most potent marketing asset your organization can leverage. Smart marketers realize this and explore ways to collaborate, enable and grow with their existing customers as a powerful lead generation channel.

Keeping a customer happy doesn’t stop with delivering on your promise. While not every company even passes that test, there is an expectation that you will deliver. To turn your customers into a collaboration partner, you’ve got to up your total customer experience game.

I know everyone talks about this, but what does it really mean in the practical every day world? It’s about more than just creating a fun and exciting experience. I think those are important aspects, but turning your customers into committed partners requires an experience that possesses mutually beneficial elements. Your customers must get something in return for their commitment.

Below are some of the elements I think should be considered in an effort to draw your customers close enough to turn them into committed partners.

Personalize the follow-up

You need to keep in touch, but that’s a minimum-level effort. If you want to stand out, you need to personalize your follow-up by connecting with your customers via social networks and exploring ways to tailor your message to their world. You need to ask them frequently about what they need to know, hear, read and consume and find ways to deliver that.

Review results

Your marketing and customer service processes must contain a way for you to help customers realize the impact of working with you. You must gauge this for your own sake so you can find and fix problems occasions when something doesn’t work as planned. Imagine how much business leaks from organizations because clients don’t have the time, energy, or desire to find out how to get what they thought they were going to get. Without this step, you’re throwing money away.

Publish together

Every one of your customers has a suite of publishing tools available to them. They can blog about us, create video product demos, review us, and tweet sweet little nothings with very little effort or cost. Oh, and the search engines really kind of love to find all that stuff too.

So if you want to draw your customers in deeper, get in the publishing game with them. Teach them how to use these tools and find ways to shoot success stories together. Let them write guest blog posts and respond to comments, show them how to write reviews and find other great resources on review sites. Most importantly, find a way to show them why doing this is good for them.

Pair with peers

One of the greatest gifts you can give your customers is to facilitate their networking efforts. In most cases, some segment of your market consists of customers that are peers in some way – all small business CEOs, all purchasing agents, etc.

What if you found ways to create roundtable discussion communities and brought these peers together to talk about meaningful developments in their industries? What if some of these were customers and some were not? Do you see how you, your customers, and your lead generation efforts could benefit from this?

Be sharable

One of the easiest ways to empower your thrilled customers is to make your content assets as sharable as possible. Add sharing plugins (Like and Retweet buttons, for example) and make it very easy to pass along your eBooks, slides and email newsletters to others.

Gather

A couple times a year, take groups of four or five of your customers to lunch. You don’t have to do much more than bring them together and let them meet. You will be surprised how often they find ways they can help each other.

(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on DuctTapeMarketing.com.)

John Jantsch is President at Duct Tape Marketing, where he focuses on simplifying and improving marketing strategies for small and growing businesses. He is a marketing consultant and author of two best-selling books, Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. You can follow him on Twitter @ducttape.

Share Your Thoughts