Reduce the pain of switching to gain more customers

One of the best things to come out of the 2015 WWDC keynote from a marketing perspective wasn’t Apple’s streaming music service. It wasn’t new Apple Watch functionality, or any of the dozens of other features.

What caught my eye was Apple’s announcement of an Android app… to help you switch to an iPhone:


“Just download the Move to iOS app to wirelessly switch from your Android device to your new iOS device. It securely transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books. And it will help you rebuild your app library, too. Any free apps you used — like Facebook and Twitter — are suggested for download from the App Store. And your paid apps are added to your iTunes Wish List.”

Think about this for a moment. Apple has made a concierge to guide you through the process of switching away from a competing ecosystem by reducing as much friction as possible.

Now consider your own marketing. Do you have a service or a product explicitly built for the purposes of helping potential customers leave your competitors?

Software as above is an obvious candidate for a concierge service. Even physical goods can have this functionality, though. There’s a difference between publishing a video about important steps to take before replacing a refrigerator and doing it for the customer. The former reduces friction only a little; the latter reduces significantly more friction because the customer doesn’t have to do it. Apple’s Android app reduces the things the customer has to do.

If you understand the pain points customers encounter when switching from a competitor to you today, you have a roadmap for easing those pains. How can you reduce friction and mitigate inconvenience? How much can you do for your prospective customer on their behalf?

It’s equally important to interview your current customers and ask them why they haven’t switched to a competitor. What do you do right? If you find that only one or two tenuous threads are all that stand between you and a mad rush for the exits, shore up your products and services to be better, to reduce the reasons to switch in the first place.

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Do what you say to say what you do

If you can’t do it, you shouldn’t sell it. This is a challenge that an incredible number of organizations face in their sales and marketing processes. Marketers go out and make wild promises about capabilities that don’t exist in the product. Sales professionals convince people to sign on the dotted line for something that won’t be ready for months, if not years.

Inevitably, the customer finds broken promises. At best, they forgive and live with what they do have in hand. At worst, they very publicly call you out for not living up to your promises.

Do what you say to say what you do.

Got a product or service? Your sales and marketing teams should be proficient in the use of the product and have had hands on experience with it. No, if you sell elaborate medical devices, your sales team doesn’t have to perform actual surgery on someone – but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to try it on a medical cadaver, would it?

When was the last time your marketers shadowed your manufacturing staff or your customer service staff for a day?

When was the last time you picked up the phone or visited the customer, hit the front lines, staffed the call center yourself, or went down to the factory floor or the development lab to build something? If your product or service requires specialized skills, when was the last time you personally buddied up with one of your experts to build something together?


Amazing things happen when you take the occasional trip down into the weeds. You shouldn’t stay there if it isn’t your job, but if you’re marketing it, you should know it intimately. You should be able to represent what you do to someone else as though you did it yourself.

Most of all, you should know what you can and can’t sell from practical experience. The product doesn’t actually do X. The product has innovative use Y that isn’t on any of the brochures.

Do what you say. Live the customer experience. Only then can you truly say what you do.

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How to handle differing digital marketing audiences

If you didn’t hear about it, Twitter recently released its own version of Audience Insights. I wrote up a lengthy review of it here that you might find helpful for understanding what’s in the box.

What’s not in the box is the last paragraph, which is about differing audiences. What do you do when your Twitter audience looks radically different from your Facebook audience? What about when your Facebook audience looks different than your Google Analytics-assessed audience. How do you interpret that data?

For example, here are the interests Twitter says my followers have:


And for comparison, here are the interests Google Analytics says my website visitors have:


How do you reconcile these? The only thing they obviously have in common is the technology/technophile interest and general business interest. The answer is to think about them like Venn diagrams:


Let’s start with the most important audience. Audience 3 is the vital one, the topics that both have in common. I’d play to those topics more because I know that both audiences will find them valuable. These topics would be the anchors, the hero or hub content that would garner more views and more engagement.

What about the unique, exclusive audiences, audiences 1 and 2? How do we reconcile these different groups of people and the topics they care about? I already know, for example, that entrepreneurship will resonate with Twitter or that photography stuff will resonate with my website audience. What would be a first test would be to cross the streams, as it were. I’d try posting photography content to Twitter and entrepreneurship stuff on my blog to see if the topics resonate. If so, that would open up doors to reaching new audiences in either channel.

Finally, I’d want to assess the value of each audience in terms of revenue and ROI. Which audience provides greater business impact? For example, if Twitter’s audience was more valuable than my website audience, then I’d want to lean more heavily on entrepreneurship content in both locations than I would photography content in both locations.

When you have different audiences, see it not as a marketing operations problem, but an opportunity to broaden your reach and impact!

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