We talked last time about what marketing, sales, and product & service groups are supposed to manufacture. Let’s talk about the verbs that go with them, so that you have an idea if what you’re doing is in alignment with those verbs, and one verb in particular. Quick review:
- Marketing takes audience and makes qualified leads
- Sales takes qualified leads and makes customers
- Product design and customer service takes customers and makes evangelists
So let’s take a look at the verbs of this funnel. In short: ACE.
Attract is what marketing does. Create demand for your ideas. Attract attention to what you have to offer. Assuming it’s good, people will pursue a line of inquiry and become a qualified lead. Attract also helps filter out some stuff – is what you are doing likely to attract leads? Billboards attract eyes, but unless they’re hyperlocal (Eat at Joe’s Next Exit), their value is questionable. Are you attracting the right people? You may be getting all the buzz in the world for your event, but if no one can afford to attend it, those thousands of visitors and millions of pageviews are worthless.
Convert is what sales does. Convert puts the emotional and rational values on the table with the qualified leads, the prospects, and helps them to convince themselves that your product or service meets or exceeds their needs. Again, convert is a useful verb. Is a sales practice converting? Do you know what converts and what doesn’t convert?
Energize is what product design and customer service do. We used to call this retention, but when you think about it, retention kind of implies that your customers are fleeing your products and services. It implies they want to run away as fast as they can, and you have to pull out all the stops to keep them from doing so. No, if your product doesn’t suck and your customer service actually cares about its customers to any degree, then you’re not talking about retention as much as you are talking about energizing your customers.
- Energizing them to use the product or service to its full potential.
- Energizing them to give you unsolicited suggestions about what would make it even more rave-worthy.
- Energizing them to tell everyone who will hold still long enough about your product or service as your unpaid word of mouth marketing department.
Energize is where all your profit is, long-term. If your product sucks, it will not energize customers to do anything more than pay the bills – if that. If your service sucks, it will only energize customers to hate you, very publicly and very loudly. Energize is what will destroy the other two departments, marketing and sales, because marketing will not be able to attract audience due to your stigma in the community. Sales will not be able to overcome fear, uncertainty, and doubt in what few prospects you have. Eventually, you’ll either have to make even more ethically questionable marketing and sales choices just to keep the lights on or go out of business.
The flip side is the fun part. Products that are raveworthy and service that is insanely great means that marketing just has to get people to the web form to sign up. Marketing can clock in at 10 and clock out at 2 with an hour martini break in the middle of the day because existing customers are raving about what you’ve got and forcibly dragging friends into your showroom. Sales has to triple its manpower just to process the paperwork, and prospects need little guidance except perhaps what color ink to sign on the contract. All of this comes from energizing your product design to be great and your customer service to be the best thing anyone has ever experienced.
Unsurprisingly, energizing product design and customer service is really, really hard. You as a company must be committed at every level, in every way, to putting your customers first and foremost. Everyone from the janitor who answers the phone late at night while cleaning to the CEO must get it, must understand that the vast majority of your long-term focus must always be on doing right by the customer. The moment that you lose that focus, you lose your ACE in the hole, and until you get it back, you’re on the path of the corporate death spiral.
Attract. Convert. Energize.
Photo credit: DotBenjamin
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