How to hug your customers

photo: Jesslee Cuizon via flickr.com

Your old marketplace is being replaced with a “market space” where customers determine the time, place and conditions of doing business. Your customer relationships, not market relationships, are the only things that generate direct business value.

 

The world has moved on

Price is not determined by the seller based on cost-plus. Instead, customers can name their own price based on new definitions of what is of value to them. Products are no longer made in batches and pushed to customers. Now, they are integrated with services to form unique value offers made-to-order in part through customer feedback. As a matter of fact, customers are now part of the product development process in some forward-thinking companies.

You’re in a new place now

I happen to think it’s a better place. But rather it’s a better place or just a different place, it’s your place now. You’re in it rather you want to be or not. And in this new place, if you’re deeply entrenched in the “4 Ps” paradigm, you’ve got a major problem.

For one thing, it’s probably forcing you to consider the marketing and communications process complete when a prospect makes a purchase.

Conventions don’t work here

Neither of those conventions work anymore. Once a company makes a purchase from you they are no longer part of the market. They are your customers. And you need to treat them differently than you do the market. You also need to communicate with them differently.

In fact, the communications imperative should shift to migrating them along a relationship path that moves them from a buyer to a brand advocate.

Become a migrator

To do that, you’ll have to plan and integrate your communications to customers in a way that moves them from first time buyers to loyalist to advocates.

In other words, just as prospects need to receive information and incentives (I call them “gooses”) to move them through the purchase path from awareness through purchase, occasional buyers need to be enticed to move them through the retention path to become recurring purchasers, loyalist and advocates of the brand.

Hugging your customers is all about building close customer and stakeholder relationships at all levels of the company. Stay tuned to find out some practical insights and straightforward approaches to help you get there.

Pingbacks

  1. […] salespeople. The idea of “hugging” customers, which my colleague Carrie recently wrote about here, is more than simply communicating with buyers. It’s more than relationship marketing or CRM […]

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