Spring appears to be here, and with it a renewed sense of optimism and promise for the possibilities for the year ahead. To fully realize that promise, however, I encourage all marketers to check the premises of the work they’ve already done in the first quarter.
Is it smart? Does the data support it? Is it making an impact on not only marketing metrics, but overall business KPIs? Are you telling customers how great the experiences you’re delivering are or are they telling you?
Here’s a handy-dandy checklist I’ve put together to keep your initiatives on the rails.
1. Pay no attention to where the customer is, what she's doing, or what she's purchased from you before. That's all noise. Forget what she wants to buy. Push what you want to sell. It’s all about you. Focus.
2. Treat everyone the same. The best customer. The one-and-done. Whales and minnows. They're all the same. Do not be distracted by nuance and the mountains of readily available information you could be using to deliver really tailored, thoughtful experiences. Just stamp them out one cookie cutter at a time.
3. Be a hammer. Treat everyone as an identical nail. Hit them on the head until they make a purchase. Old ones. Young ones. Men ones. Women ones. High-value ones. Low-value ones. They're just interchangeable nails and should be treated that way. If you let up for even one second, you may lose an opportunity to sell!
4. Send mixed messages. Make sure the push notification is completely different from — and ideally contradictory to — the email. Keep them guessing. When everything is consistent and up-to-date, the relationship with the customer becomes flat and goes stale. Make them figure out which message is accurate or current. It’s only when they commit time to extraneous hoops that they realize how significant a part of their day you occupy.
5. Make the customer prove his loyalty to you, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Demonstrate to him in no uncertain terms that he’s worthy of the same “10% off any purchase $10 or less” as every other customer in the world, despite the fact he knows your planogram better than most of your store ops people. When he makes his ninth purchase, then and only then, show him some love (on soon to be deeply discounted merchandise). He’s worth no more or no less than complete strangers.
6. Above all, treat non-customers who've never spent a dime with you better than existing loyal customers. Demonstrate once they're “in,” they're forgotten. You're moving on. It's all about the next customer! Forget the bird in the hand. Just go on a Crusade-like acquisition spree and let your existing loyalists sit there in the dark. They’ve made that initial purchase. Let them figure it out from here.
7. Horde data like chestnuts. Do not let someone like Customer Service, who has a screaming meanie on the line, have information and tools that could solve the situation quickly and amicably to both parties' satisfaction. They're on their own. Long live silos! In very flat, disinterested tones, force them to repeat their hardship over and over and over…until they hang up and tell all their friends about their experience. All PR is good PR!
8. Plan for things way, way in advance and don't yield to changing conditions and course-correct in any way. If it made sense two years ago when you planned the communication, it makes sense today. What's changed? The more “in a vacuum” your planning, the cleaner and more pristine it will be when you roll it out in a couple years.
9. Wait until the last possible minute to address technical debt. How long can it take to thread all your systems together, create a centralized real-time customer profile, and then engage each customer individually with the best expression of your brand that can make infrequent customers more frequent and frequent customers passionate ambassadors? Easy peasy. Why rush?
10. Outlast them all. Amazon, Apple, Google, Alibaba ... they'll be gone before you know it. Save your breath to cool your soup. They're fads. If people wanted real change, they wouldn’t still rely on the newspaper on the stoop for their news, the White Pages to find a phone number, and the 8-pound, 11-ounce Sears and Roebuck catalog to get the jump on Back to School shopping.
11. Just Do It. If someone you may or may not have ever heard of from a company of similar stature says, “Trust me. It’s great!,” it almost certainly is. People don’t have agendas. Just go with it. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
As a smart and well-informed reader, I hope you’re able to take these recommendations for the April Fool’s Day advice that they are. In the data-powered world we live in today, it’s clear when brands are invested in earning customer engagement – and ultimately loyalty — and when they’ve dialed it in. Those that treat the customer right are the ones that will survive and thrive for years to come.