Why Customer Experience Trumps Traditional Marketing

bullseye representing content marketing

So much of marketing today is hit or miss. Imagine an archery target with tons of holes all over the surface along each of the rings. A few hit the bullseye, but most don’t. This is often the “going viral” strategy—try a whole bunch of stuff and hope something clicks.

Have you ever had an executive come to you and say, “Can’t you just make us a viral video?” If only it were that easy.

Businesses are competing against innumerable pieces of content bombarding their prospects and customers every single day. Consider these stats, courtesy of internetlivestats.com:

In other words, it is awfully difficult to stand out with content.

According to HubSpot, 75 percent of people “don’t accept advertisements as truth,” yet 90 percent “believe brand recommendations from friends.”

The answer, then, is not to throw more money at marketing or advertising. That statement comes from someone who spent more than twenty years in Corporate America leading marketing teams at three Fortune 300 companies and two B2B companies.

Let’s consider just some of the most popular marketing channels today:

  • Email: Almost everyone’s inbox is stuffed with emails from friends, family, and brands, so it is difficult to stand out among the sheer quantity of messages. Marketers mistakenly look at email as a “free” channel because often there is no direct incremental cost to sending emails, but getting consumers’ attention is becoming harder and harder.
  • Television: Other than during the Super Bowl, does anyone watch TV commercials anymore? Digital video recorders (DVRs) allow consumers to bypass commercials with the touch of a button and, not surprisingly, many do.
  • Social Media: I often reminded the social media teams I managed at Discover and Humana that absolutely no one wakes up in the morning hoping to hear from their credit card company or health insurer. In social media, the problem is more acute because to gain someone’s attention, marketers need to interrupt them from scrolling through their feed of baby pictures and cat videos. Does any consumer want that interruption? Of course not, which is why the companies who use this channel as another “megaphone” to shout their brand message rather than actually engage with customers are losing more customers than they are gaining.
  • Search: This is a great channel to invest in because consumers are showing purchase intent with their Google searches. Marketers that commit to becoming the best educators in their industry, as my friend Marcus Sheridan suggests in his outstanding book They Ask, You Answer, can quickly differentiate themselves from the competition and win more customers by being a great online resource.
  • Direct Mail: Interestingly, this old-school marketing channel still works incredibly well for some industries, including credit card and health insurance companies. Why? Because at least in the United States, we don’t receive nearly as much mail as we used to, so we’re more likely to read the mail we do get. That said, the term “junk mail” wasn’t invented for nothing.
  • Telemarketing: Please, just don’t. This channel is intrusive, annoying, and generally a horrible customer experience.
  • Word of Mouth: The “Holy Grail” of marketing, yet the most elusive. It is most easily achieved by creating remarkable customer experiences—literally worthy of conversation.

cartoon figure holding sign saying "customer"

There is a better way than spending more on marketing, and that is to focus on your existing customers. Listen to your customers, engage with them, and they will become your best marketers. That’s right, your existing customers will help you acquire new customers.

So stop constantly saddling your sales teams with unreasonably increasing sales goals every year, and start paying attention to your “leaky bucket.”

Almost every business has a leaky bucket. Most companies are focused on sales growth and bringing in new customers at the expense of the existing customers who are funding the business. Without our existing customers, we’re out of business. So why do companies spend so much money and time focused on higher and higher sales and new customer goals yet not nearly as much time with the customers they already have?

Retaining an existing customer is easier and cheaper than acquiring a new one, but the net effect is the same.

 

Excerpts taken from The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share by Dan Gingiss (Morgan James Publishing), available for pre-order now and releasing September 14, 2021.