Your best customers are pure gold

best customersYou’ve heard it before — the top 20% of your customers, your very best customers, account for 80% of your profitability and referrals.  We intellectually know that and yet our behavior sure doesn’t show it.

We spend all kinds of dollars, time, energy and worry chasing after new customers and after someone starts to buy, the typical business sort of forgets all about them.  Much like people’s dating patterns — there’s a lot of wooing that goes on before the wedding but after the “I do’s” get said, the florist goes broke.

Our poor best customers get the same treatment from us and that needs to stop.  We need to shift a portion of our marketing focus away from prospects and invest even more in our best customers — the ones who have already proven that they’ll sing our praises, buy more and more and bring their friends along for the ride.

Fortunately, my friend Stan Phelps has written a book to help us all do just that.  This book, What’s Your Golden Goldfish, is the third book in a trilogy of marketing books that are all built around over 2,200 crowdsourced examples of real life marketing smarts.

This particular book shares over 100 examples of what leading brands like Starbucks, Doubletree, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Virgin Atlantic are doing differently to cater to their best customers and earn even more of their business and loyalty.

The book showcases nine different ways to let your best customers (and employees) know how much you value them. By doing those little extras, you will make your company even stronger.  You will differentiate yourself even more from your competitors, you’ll keep both your best customers and employees longer so they contribute to your success and with every little extra, you will create more word of mouth buzz.

The entire series of books is all built around the idea of lagniappe which is a creole word for “a little something extra.” In this edition — Stan helps his readers explore how organizations large and small can do a little something extra for their most loyal customers and employees.

You’ll love the storytelling but make sure you have a pen and paper handy because this book is going to spark so many ideas that you’ll never remember them all.  And as you implement them — your best customers will reward you with even more buzz, money and referrals.

Sounds like it is going to work out well for everyone, doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in Stan’s entire series, here’s how you can get them from Amazon.  If your an Amazon Unlimited customer, you can read the electronic version for free.  If you want the paperbacks, click on the links below:

 

Note:  If you click on one of the Amazon links, I get a few cents.

Who determines absolute value?

AbsoluteValueMany people, myself included, believe in the power of a strong brand. Brand positioning has influenced buying decisions for years and a company with a strong sense of their own brand and a commitment to authentically walking out that brand is at an advantage over their competitors.

In the past, a great brand could significantly influence if not determine the absolute value of a product or service.

But, is that marketing truth evolving?

I’ve just finished reading the book Absolute Value, What Really Influences Customers in the Age of Nearly Perfect Information* by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen and it digs into this issue. The book offers many examples of how consumers have viewed and evaluated brands in the past and how they are coming to interact and judge them today. When you see the trends spelled out, in example after example, it’s pretty eye opening.

To kick things off — the authors list 5 widely held beliefs and suggest that they are all becoming less true today.

  1. A company’s brand is more important today than it has ever been
  2. Nurturing loyalty should be the marketer’s primary, day-to-day concern
  3. All customers are irrational
  4. An overload of opinions may actually paralyze people
  5. Positioning is the most important part of the marketing game

The authors assert that most brands are losing their role as a definer of quality and that a consumer’s past satisfaction is not as anchoring as it used to be. They also contend that because of the abundance of rational information that is so readily available to all of us, our methods of evaluating products and services has changed dramatically.

We really don’t shop/buy the way we used to. Let’s say you need to buy a car. Back in the day, you either went to a dealer based on your brand preference or you might have reacted to a TV spot or your neighbor’s experience.

But today, what would you do? You would look online and read the reviews. You’d look at safety reports. You’d then go to a site and could review exactly what the dealer paid for any car you were interested in. Finally, armed with print outs and a price you knew was 3% over dealer invoice, you’d head to the dealership.

Suddenly, you have access to all kinds of data that wasn’t readily available a decade ago and much of that data is ranking, grading and critiquing the item in question.

Given those two choices – a fuzzy brand preference or hundreds/thousands of reviews from other people – which do you think will influence you more today?

If you’re like most other people, you’ll trust the masses more than your own perception or previous experiences, unless you’re already a brand zealot.

That’s where the problem comes in for marketers. In this new marketplace, there’s a voice that is overshadowing theirs. And it’s not just word of mouth. It’s word of mouth, amplified. Many voices and they’re so much easier to find/listen to. And it turns out, their collective wisdom and experience is quite compelling.

This book is a thought provoking read. (Buy a copy of the book**) It will make the marketer in you tilt your head and really wonder about the effectiveness of your efforts. It will make the consumer in you examine your own purchasing patterns and identify some of your biggest influencers.

But whichever hat you’re wearing — it will force you to look at our world and your work in marketing a little differently. Just like your consumers are doing.

 

 

 

*I received a copy of this book from Emanuel Rosen but I really did read it and I really liked it and found it thought provoking.  You’d be amazed at the number of books I receive that I don’t really like… and therefore, don’t mention to you.

**Amazon affiliate link

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I want you to get extreme!

2014-Summit Web-Banner_full-leg

I like to pass along people, ideas and events I think you’ll find valuable.

My friend, Steve Farber, is a world-renowned leadership expert. He consults with global 100 brands. His book The Radical LEAP has been named one of the 100 best business books of all time and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while — you know that in my opinion, it’s one of the three most brilliant business books I’ve ever read.

To announce the Extreme Leadership Summit, coming April 11-13 in Chicago, Steve is offering an MP3 audio download of his popular program, Extreme Leadership: How to Put More Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof into Your Work. The DVD of this 2-hour speech sells for $90, but Steve is offering this audio to my friends for free.

Yeah, he’s a pretty cool guy. I’m confident you’ll resonate with Steve’s call to take a LEAP in your life at work and at home – this is, to practice Extreme Leadership through Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Cultivate more love in, and for, your business
  • Generate energy for a more productive career
  • Develop more courage to change your world
  • Prove your value and credibility to others – and yourself
  • Lead in an extreme manner that gets big results

Not only is Steve’s program packed with great content, his delivery is entertaining, provocative, and funny.

Click here and opt-in to receive the MP3 file. You’ll find Steve great company on your commute, your next flight, or during your treadmill tribulations.

Steve delivers high value in everything he does, so I’m confident this is a relationship you’ll appreciate and cultivate.

Consider it a holiday gift from Steve and me to you. To your success in 2014!

Top 5 books every marketer should read

I don’t believe you can be successful if you don’t keep ingesting new ideas, information and stories.  As you know, I’m a big reader and try to get through a book a week to keep my brain’s juices cooking.

For a recent presentation, I was asked to provide my all time top 5 books every marketer should read.  I thought you might find it valuable as well.

In no particular order — here are the books that you need to own, read and re-read.

The top 5 books every marketer should read

Baer - Top 5 books every marketer should readJay Baer’s Youtility (Click here to buy on Amazon*) offers a new approach that cuts through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

Drawing from real examples of companies who are practicing Youtility as well as his experience helping more than seven hundred brands improve their marketing strategy, Baer provides a groundbreaking plan for using information and helpfulness to transform the relationship between companies and customers.

Handley & Chapman - Top 5 books every marketer should readContent Rules (click to buy it on Amazon*) by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other platforms are giving everyone a “voice,” including organizations and their customers.

So how do you create the stories, videos, and blog posts that cultivate fans, arouse passion for your products or services, and ignite your business? Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about.

Davenport - Top 5 books every marketer should readKeeping up with the Quants (Click to buy on Amazon*) by Thomas Davenport.  Not normally my type of book but when in Rome…. welcome to the age of data. No matter your interests, your industry, or the type of organization you work for —your world is awash with data.

As a successful manager today, you must be able to make sense of all this information. You need to be conversant with analytical terminology and methods and able to work with quantitative information. This book promises to become your “quantitative literacy” guide—helping you develop the analytical skills you need right now in order to summarize data, find the meaning in it, and extract its value.

Harry Beckwith‘s Selling the Invisible. (Click here to buy on Amazon*) It may be almost 15 years old, but it’s still right on the money and a brilliant read.

Beckwith - Top 5 books every marketer should readIn Selling the Invisible, Beckwith argues that what consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships. Even companies who think that they sell only tangible products should rethink their approach to product development and marketing and sales.

Beckwith provides an excellent forum for thinking differently about the nature of services and how they can be effectively marketed. If you’re at all involved in marketing or sales, then Selling the Invisible is definitely worth a look.

Calloway - Top 5 books every marketer should readJoe Calloway’s Becoming a Category of One (Click to buy on Amazon*) reveals how extraordinary companies do what they do so well and gives you the tools and ideas to help your business emulate their success. Packed with real case studies and personal reflections from successful business leaders, it helps you apply the best practices of the best companies to set yourself apart from your competitors and turn your business into a market leader.

Whether you run a multinational corporation or a two-person start-up company, the lessons you’ll find here apply to any business.

And because I believe there’s always another great book to discover…a bonus book or two.

Ariely - Top 5 books every marketer should readDan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational (click here to buy on Amazon*) draws on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money.

According to Ariely, our understanding of economics, now based on the assumption of a rational subject, should, in fact, be based on our systematic, unsurprising irrationality. Ariely argues that greater understanding of previously ignored or misunderstood forces (emotions, relativity and social norms) that influence our economic behavior brings a variety of opportunities for reexamining individual motivation and consumer choice, as well as economic and educational policy.

Farber - Top 5 books every marketer should readAnd…not specifically a book for marketers — a book for leaders.  This is one of my all time favorites.  Steve Farber’s Radical Leap Re-energized.  (Click here to buy on Amazon*) The Radical Leap Re-Energized is an expansion and revitalization of The Radical Leap, which was named as one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Covert and Sattersten.

It’s a novel told in Steve Farber’s humorous, poignant, and original voice that takes the reader on a deep exploration of the qualities and practices of real, or Extreme Leadership, and how to apply them in daily life. Part One, The Radical Leap, explores the leadership elements of Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof; Part Two, The Radical Edge, takes the discussion deeper into innovation, personal clarity and guidelines for changing the world. It sets a new standard for what it means to really lead in today’s business world and beyond.

Now get reading!

 *All of these are affiliate links.

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Promote Yourself

Promote-Yourself-New-CoverWhen I first heard the title of Dan Schawbel‘s new book — Promote Yourself (The actual full title is Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success) I thought, uh oh…another how to use social media to get in the spotlight book. But knowing Dan, I should have known better.

Instead of a re-tread on an already tired topic, Dan’s very fresh message is “Hey Millennial — the future is yours if you want it — but don’t think it’s going to get handed to you.” He then outlines how these young professionals need to take charge of their career and make sure “the future has your name on it.”

He encourages his readers (and honestly while his advice is aimed at those born between 1982 – 1993, it’s perfectly applicable to professionals of all ages) to rely on a mix of technical, interpersonal and social media skills. He suggests, and I believe he’s correct, that it’s the hard skills that will get you the job but the soft or interpersonal skills that will get you the promotion.

He says “Hard skills are what will help you navigate the technical elements of your job, but it’s soft skills that will enable you to move ahead.”

Keep in mind that in today’s corporate world, company culture and company ethics are getting more and more important. Skills like being a good communicator, trustworthy and empathetic matter. Especially when sizing up candidates for a possible promotion. When everyone you’re competing with has the same hard skills are you do — how are you going to stand out?

Dan offers up six rules of self promotion that everyone should jot down:

  • Make yourself worth being talked about
  • Be well-known for one specific thing
  • Take responsibility
  • Find ways to expand your role
  • Make others look good – especially your manager
  • Get some evangelists

I am hardly a millennial. And I’ve been in the workplace for a very long time and at this point, I’m the only one who can promote me. But Dan’s book had some great reminders for me too. Whether you’re 20 or been on the job for 20 years — this is a worthwhile read. (click here to buy the book on Amazon*)

As I always try to do — I asked Dan my book author questions and here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?

A book that pushes people to be accountable for their own careers and take charge of their lives.

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

They are willing to put the effort every single day in order to turn their dreams into reality.

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

The biggest mistake I’ve made was that I rushed into trying to get a second book deal after the first one came out. I learned that I need to be more patient and to not only think bigger, but take the time to make something even more successful before I jump into a new project.

Why did you have to write this book?  What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

The question I answered in this book is “how do I get ahead at work?” When I started writing it, the idea was it would contain the feedback that employees didn’t receive at work, straight from the managers who have the power to promote them or not.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

I hope they take at least one recommendation in the book and act on it. It would be great to see a revival of work ethic out there and for more people to take risks in their careers.

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Useful = today’s marketing secret

Youtility, how being useful is today's marketing secretLet’s look at the reality:

  • Fragmented media choices
  • Permission-based media on the rise
  • Ability to filter, skip, ignore irrelevant advertising
  • Nothing beats word of mouth
  • A jaded, cynical consumer
  • Consumers tuning out, taking over and talking loudly about brands

That mountain of challenges is what faces marketers every single day.  So how in the world do we earn their attention, their dollars and even tougher — their loyalty?

Author, consultant and tequila loving Jay Baer believes he has the answer and outlines it in his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype.*  (I have 9 copies to give away — read to the end to find out how you can win!)

Jay’s premise is simple enough. If brands focus on being helpful, consumers will be drawn to them and when they’re ready to buy, that brand will have already earned the consumer’s trust — so they’re more likely to also give you their money.

Jay calls this friend-of-mine awareness (as opposed to top of mind awareness) and argues that in a congested, time starved world – if you want to keep earning market share, you need this level of connection with both customers and prospects.

The book is packed with stories, examples and very pragmatic ideas that any business — big, small, consumer or business focused — can implement.  It’s one of my favorites for 2013 — and a book you should definitely read. (Click here to order it from Amazon*)

I asked Jay a few questions about the book.  Here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?  

If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life. 

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by YoungMe Moon, and anything by Bill Bryson.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

A true understanding of customer needs.

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

I botched a 1031 real estate exchange eight years ago, costing myself a ton of money. I learned to trust experts that you hire, but always follow up.

Why did you have to write this book?  What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

2 reasons. I wrote their book as a reaction to the landslide of punditry that prescribes “make your company amazing” as a strategic approach. Also, I wanted to give people a thoughtful scaffolding for why and how they should be creating content.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

First, begin to understand how your company can insert itself gracefully into the lives of customers and prospects by being useful. Second (or maybe first), tell 3 friends to buy the book! 

Okay — the book is awesome and you should read it.  And 9 of you will get to read it for free.  Winning a copy is simple.  Leave a comment on this post and I’ll use the randomizer at random.org to pick the lucky readers!

 

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