One of the most common marketing mistakes I see is focusing solely on new clients and doing so in a way that annoys everyone else who has (or had) a relationship with your business.
This quote from Facebook (above) about a New England newspaper’s Groupon deal is but one example.
The process goes something like this:
There’s a discussion in the marketing team and/or with the senior management team (which may simply be you and you) that includes something like this:
“We’re not getting enough new customers.“
“Well, let’s create a deal just for new customers and see if we can get some.“
Of course, this means that existing customers can’t take advantage of the deal, and nor can any former customers.
For your existing customers, it’s annoying to know that there is a better deal for what you bought, but it isn’t available to you. To be sure, there might be other parts of the deal (free or discounted this or that to start), but the recurring part of the bill is still more than likely unobtainable for your current customers.
This makes them angry. Ditto for former customers who are thinking of returning.
Meanwhile back at the internet
Most businesses want as many customers as possible. Newspapers fall into that category, but this problem is far from limited to them. I’ve seen it from cable / internet /phone providers and many other businesses that sell products or services via subscription – and even some who don’t.
Innocent enough, but unless you have figured out a way to hide all of your marketing from former or current customers, you’re ignoring human nature. Your ability to “hide” your marketing is an illusion. People talk and they look on the internet. Your marketing is extremely difficult to hide. Even so, that’s very much the wrong problem to solve.
Here’s a secret – get them, keep them happy and keep delivering more value so they buy more. Add upper tier services so you can afford to deliver more value to those who want it. Coupons come right off the top of your profit – that’s why you don’t want your existing customers to use them.
Meet your customers where they are
Every few years, I would call a local daily newspaper and ask if I could get a Sunday-only subscription.
Every few years, they would tell me that they “can’t do that”. This has happened in more than one place with more than one paper.
Tossing a Sunday paper in my driveway costs them almost nothing. There are almost certainly other subscribers on my road, so the paper delivery driver already goes by my house on Sunday. The incremental cost of that paper and its delivery is pretty close to zero.
Yet – they won’t sell me a Sunday only subscription.
Maybe it’s because…
- Their billing systems can’t handle it – but I doubt it.
- The system that bundles papers for the carrier every day can’t handle it – but I doubt it.
- Their carrier isn’t intelligent or caring enough to make sure that I get a Sunday paper but no other papers – but I doubt it.
I think it’s a management and/or marketing choice that ignores Sales 101.
Sales 101 is “The reason to make a sale is to get a customer, not the other way around.”
This applies to all businesses, not just the ones we’re discussing today.
If this New England paper’s people are in the right frame of mind, they’re thinking “If we can get people to subscribe on Sunday, then they’ll see that our paper is so awesome that they will want a daily subscription – or at least, they will want the digital edition every day and the paper version on Sundays.“
I suspect this isn’t what they’re thinking, but instead it’s something like “People only want the Sunday paper, so let’s make them buy it seven days a week to get what they really want.“
To be sure – the latter is a legitimate concern about customer mindset, but it can be made irrelevant. Thinking further, why do they want only the Sunday paper? Is it there a way to deliver the desired content daily or at least, more often? Is it about the delivery mechanism? Would a digital subscription that included the Sunday paper in the driveway boost sales?
Are you asking these kinds of questions of YOUR business?