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Want Customer Loyalty? Create Customer Wins with Content

The August 13th BusinessWeek article from Jack & Suzy Welch is truly eye-opening from a marketing perspective (link to article provided here, but requires BusinessWeek subscription). Welch discusses how customer loyalty has changed from a one-way (competitive price, excellent product quality, easy access, great service, etc). to a two-way partnership. Welch states:

“With the two-way-street approach to loyalty, you and your customers don’t have a deal as much as you have mutual dedication. Because you, the seller, are not delivering on just price, quality, and service. You are demonstrating intense loyalty by giving him a comprehensive, inimitable way to win. Better productivity. Faster throughput. Lower inventory.
More innovative products. You are delivering something—anything—that makes you indispensable to your customer’s success. Then, and only then, will you get complete loyalty in return.”

This is important because it displays how much buyer behavior has changed in the past few years. The 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, promotion, place) are not enough anymore to create, develop and maintain long-term buyer relationships. Most organizations understand the “Better productivity. Faster throughput. Lower inventory. More innovative products.” that Welch discusses. Many organizations DO NOT get the “indispensable” part.

Take a read at this part again:

You are delivering something—anything—that makes you indispensable to your customer’s success.”

Okay, let’s say you buy into this. How do you become indispensable to your customers? How do you become true partners with them over a long period of time?

The goal is not for you to sell something. The goal is to help your customers, in any way possible, TO WIN! In order to help them win, you (as the marketer) must deliver ongoing content to them that gives them the tools TO win. You must deliver content in many different ways, to wherever your customers are, in whatever form they will digest it in.

Content, you say? This is not better sales material, better copy writing on your web site, or better direct mail collateral.  This is a deep understanding of the challenges your customer is facing, and then delivering information that helps them overcome these challenges. This means investing in industry and buyer research, much like the Cisco’s and Intel’s of the world spend billions on research and development. This means hiring the best researchers and journalists in your industry to create content that enables true customer “wins”. This is bigger than marketing.

If, as a marketing organization, you can put the customer “win” scenario in the middle of your marketing plan, you’ll see the difference it can make. From this perspective, much of the “silly” sales messages on your website become obsolete. You’ll want to replace those message with content in the form of articles, white papers, eBooks, video, in-person events, etc. that give your customers and prospects the tools they need to win.

If that doesn’t create loyalty, nothing will.

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