What would make you buy our product once more per year?
In my past life as a consultant, nearly every company asking this question ended up in a bad place...
Have you heard this before?
Or perhaps it was, “if we could only get our customers to come in just one more time per year, we’d achieve XX more revenue.”
This mindset is inherently flawed, because it focuses on the wrong thing. It’s not about that one more time per year or trying to get a little more from each of your customers in the short term – that only leads to an impossible to sustain cycle. The mindset is analogous to bailing water from a sinking boat – it might make you feel like you’re doing good and making progress, but in reality you’re ignoring the larger problem (and opportunity).
You win in marketing not by worrying about quick short term fixes, but by fostering genuine, long-term relationships. The kind of relationships that get people talking, that build affinity, that strengthen naturally over time and aren’t easily broken. And, you don’t achieve that with the mindset of purely trying to get people to choose you one more time per year for the sake of revenue. Sure, you could work to sacrifice the long term for a few more quick hits, but this comes at the greatest cost of all – the loss of trust.
For example, I could easily link you somewhere to get a quick dollar in revenue for your attention, but that wouldn’t be prudent when I’ve worked for years to build trust with you and deliver value. If I’m going to link you somewhere, it is chosen because I personally believe in whatever I’m linking. It wouldn’t make much sense if I sacrificed that trust for a quick buck. Because I don’t view you with that mindset, I get the most valuable gift of all, the ability to share ideas (and vice versa, I learn from many of you as well – yes, email subscribers you can hit reply if you’re too shy to comment here). This is not any different than how you think about your users/customers.
So it makes equally as little sense to mortgage the future for the present with your brand. You sacrifice the value of it bit by bit when you sell out your good name for the sake of making a little more in the short term. It is ruined just slightly every time you cut quality to shave a bit off the cost, push messages out without substance, or ultimately act in ways which don’t add value to your customers. As an aside, adding value can mean many things, including knowledge, entertainment, resources, humor or anything in between – knowing your audience is key to understanding what this is.
I’m not saying don’t plan tactical wins and capitalize on what you can for buzz, attention and share of voice – absolutely do. Just do so in a way which plays into a larger picture and actually supports your efforts of tomorrow. Without question both goals can be accomplished.
Wrapping up, a slight difference in price or 1-off discount isn’t what causes people to rave about you or share you with their networks. This is unremarkable, as in not worth commenting on (everyone already does it, you’re not standing out here). These things are what contribute to the short term, but not long term. It’s “make the quarter” thinking vs consideration of longer-term, strategic growth. The former are the types of companies hurting in this economy and having to suffer through layoffs, the latter group are fine and in fact going to use this as a chance to scoop up more talent and position for the future. So, always ask yourself, how does what I am doing to market my clients/business/products/website/blog truly build something special and lasting?