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Save Your People: Stop the Churn (Part 2 of 3)

From “Fly on the Wall” to “Seat at the Table”

Without customers, your business is toast. And it’s your job to be their voice.

If The Unified Marketing System was a religion, its mantra would be simple.

“Marketing’s job is to optimize LTV:CAC.”

It’d be carved in stone above our office doors. It’d be chanted at the end of every meeting. At our funerals, people would tell stories that began with, “I’ll always remember when estound told me my job was to define the Lifetime Value of a Customer and optimize it against the Cost to Acquire a Customer. It all started when…”

Want to know a secret, though? 

Doing your job isn’t always enough.

Marketing metrics may be the ultimate measurement of your success. But they’re also a trailing indicator. Something you measure after they happen.

To get out of The Churn Cycle, you need to be an authority on something. You have to be the go-to source for insights that inform business strategy well into the future.

The good news is, you already are.

The benefit of existing in a data-driven, high-touch world is no one knows more about your customers than you do. And no one understands emerging trends and buying behavior better, either.

Customer insight drives not just marketing, sales and service, but product development and even finance. So the next time your company has a tough decision to make, you should be the one providing the keys to the answer.

Be an expert on your company’s most important asset: customers. 

The Unified Marketing System has a wealth of tools and exercises. Here are three we use to help teams understand current customers and define future ones.

Exercise #1: The Interview with the Customer.

Personal anecdotes tend to show up secondhand. This is especially true in B2B environments, where salespeople offer unsolicited updates on what made a transaction particularly easy. (Or a longtime customer particularly upset!)

So the challenge here is to sit down with customers yourself, and ask them questions that help draw a complete picture of why they value you. There are a couple dozen potential questions listed in The Unified Marketing System. Here are just a few:

Relationship Background

  • How did you first hear about our company? Was it during the buying process or before?
  • What were your first impressions of our products or services?
  • How would you describe your relationship with our company today?

Buying Journey

  • What problem or need motivated you to start searching for us?
  • Who else was involved in the buying decision? What were their roles?
  • What were the most important factors in the buying decision?

Marketing Experience

  • What did we say – online or off – that resonated with you?
  • How did you find similar companies – referrals, web searches, advertising?
  • Is our marketing consistent with your experience as a customer?

Wrapping Up

  • What has changed about your perception of our company?
  • What would you want our prospective clients to know?
  • What did I miss? What would you like to add?

Exercise #2: Buying Circles.

Few purchases are truly individual decisions. Consciously or not, humans look for validation and advice along the way. Buying Circles will help your team understand those spheres of influence. 

To do this exercise effectively, you’ll need to assemble a brainstorming group. Gather around a large whiteboard or an estound Buying Circles template. (You can download it here.)

Begin by placing your decision maker at the center of two rings.

In the inside ring, place anyone who is likely to be highly influential. This might include:

  • People who don’t make the decision, but will need to approve or pay for it.
  • Those with veto power based on functional or technical needs.
  • Trusted confidants. (We call their power “inside clout.”)
  • Subject matter experts, such as celebrities, endorsers or reviewers. (We call this “outside clout.”)

Then, in the larger ring, brainstorm who might inspire the decision without having any real influence. There are two main varieties:

  • End users who define requirements up front.
  • Anyone else who might show up along the way – friends, coworkers, anyone!

Buying Circles teach you to think about your potential consumers as real people, with a social network and needs of their own. And they help you design a marketing plan that reaches not just the buyers, but the people they trust most.

Exercise #3: Making the Case.

People make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally. (And this is doubly true for B2B decision makers, who need to explain their reasoning to their bosses.) The key to winning? Understanding both sides of the coin.

So in this exercise imagine yourself as a potential customer. And then ask yourself three questions:

What do I need to SEE?

Answers could include:

  • Testimonials and case studies
  • A trust tout or certification
  • A comparison with other brands

What do I need to GET?

Answers could include:

  • A satisfaction guarantee
  • An advance copy of the contract
  • A warm feeling from the sales rep

What do I need to KNOW?

Answers could include:

  • Use cases for various products
  • The contact info for my account manager
  • How to setup or install the system

Don’t let yourself be limited by your company’s existing storytelling! This is all about imagining the facts customers need to justify their decision.

“Here’s what our customers think!”

Those are five of the most powerful words in business. No one ever turns down the chance to know how customers – new or existing – will react to a decision. And a big part of escaping The Churn Cycle is having the answer to that question at your fingertips.

Going through the exercises in this post will also go a long way to helping you fill out your Marketing Dossier. Which is good, because in the last post in this series, we’ll discuss how to use the dossier to keep your team focused, motivated and growing personally and professionally.


ready to GET STARTED?

Drop us a note and we'll coordinate a time to discuss where your marketing has hit a wall and how UMS might help you break through.

The UMS method has transformed our business. The discipline it gave us helped us survive through tough times and then thrive with years of double-digit growth. This process works and we are evidence of it.

David DeCamillis
VP Sales & Marketing, Platte River Networks