Nurturing isn't just for leads. It's also for customers. It's time marketing started reaching beyond lead generation and customer acquisition to play an active role in strengthening and extending customer relationships.
Often, once a company has acquired a customer, the only communication the customer receives is the company-focused newsletter, support exchanges and new product launch and update notices. If your customers are only hearing from you when it's time to renew a license, upgrade the solution they just finished implementing or for problem resolution, you're letting them down. Today's customers are selecting vendors for complex solutions based on their interpretation that the vendor will be a trusted advisor and partner-for the long term. Just because you've got them now, doesn't mean they're yours for the duration of however you defined a customer life cycle.
One of the things that bugs me about the whole life cycle discussion is that many of them fully expect their customers to leave after a certain period of time. The life cycle for solutions seems to run about 3 years. Probably less now given the rate of innovation.I can't help but think this "life cycle" mindset is often caused by the idea itself, as well as the forecasts that lock this thinking in place. If the trend shows that customers leave after 3 years, on average, then companies project that thinking into their plans and forecasts. I say this is a bunch of...well, bull pucky.It's been proven time, and time again, that existing customers are more valuable to companies-and easier to re-sell-than acquiring new customers. So, why the resignation? Why are companies letting their customer relationships languish?I think it's because that's the norm. A grass is greener kind of thing that points attention to new customer acquisition as more important. The prevalent idea that a customer is a foregone conclusion. [we know we have them for a year - they just signed a contract]Accepting the norm is lazy and short sighted. First of all, it's hard to change vendors.
Change is hard, regardless of the reason. You get reminded of that every time you try to break in to a new account and wrangle with the status quo. Well, when you're the status quo, what are you doing to keep it that way?One of the best things you can do is get a strategy in place for customer nurturing. And, it should be easier because you "know" these people. Produce custom content for them that helps them proactively evolve the relationship they have with your company.They likely chose you for the ideas you shared in the beginning.
Don't you think they'd keep choosing to do business with you if the ideas keep flowing? Who the heck is going to switch vendors when that vendor is a valuable asset to growing and improving their business?Flip the way you focus your customer content:Got a product launch coming up? Start telling the story to your customers now about how this new product will help them get even better outcomes in conjunction with your products and services they're already using. Stop thinking about it as a product launch and start thinking about it in terms of a customer priority resolution opportunity-from their perspective.
See an industry trend coming? Get some thought leadership about it out the door to help position how your customers think about managing that change when it gets here. Regardless of whether or not your products actually address it. Become the anchor they turn to when they need advice and insight. Become indispensable. Discover new ways customers are using your products to get outcomes different than what you thought? Educate your other customers about how to use your products to get different and more benefit than they originally thought possible.
Does this new use reveal new ways to combine products to extend that value farther?These are only a few ideas to get you started. Regardless of what else you do, start nurturing your customers. For all the marketers who need to prove measurable value delivery to the business-this is one sure way to show payoffs in higher up and cross sells. Not to mention the impact you can have on lengthening the customer life cycle.
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