New York Times - Duct Tape Marketing

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23 How to Attract and Retain Customers

The title of today’s post mirrors the topic of discussion I am leading during today’s New York Times Small Business Summit for AMEX OPEN.

It’s certainly a big topic, but I love that attract and retain are used in the same setting because they are certainly linked arm in arm in a business that wants to build any kind of marketing momentum. In fact, you could argue, and I do, they are one in the same.

Far too often marketers spend all of their attention on the chase and the sale and not enough on the retain and remarkable experience. The funny thing is if you get great at the later, the former will take care of itself.

Actually, I’m not a fan of the word retain, it seems a bit like satisfy. The real magic is referral and that comes from something a little more over the top.

Here’s the system I plan to share today.

You attract by building know, like and trust:

  • You must know whom you are ideally suited to attract
  • You must be able to communicate a difference that makes you stand out
  • You must create content that addresses a need of a narrowly defined customer
  • You must advertise and generate word of mouth buzz surrounding your content
  • You must be in so many places and linked to so many sources that you are easily found
  • You must build a team of strategic partners, sponsors and customer champions willing to help prospects find you

You retain customers by focusing on repeat and referral

  • You must study every potential customer contact point and turn it into a remarkable experience
  • You must develop a customer orientation process as part of your lead conversion process
  • You must communicate fully, often and truthfully during transactions and service
  • You must build follow-up routines that include opportunities to share additional education, training and content
  • You must create a process that allows you to measure and communicate the value you product or service has delivered to a customer
  • You must stop what you are doing often and show appreciation fully
  • You must find ways to bring your customers together and facilitate building community for them
  • You must expect to receive a referral from 100% of your customers and help them bring value to others they would like to help

Accomplishing everything on the both lists above is the secret to success for any business, regardless of industry or geography – there’s actually nothing very hard about it, the key is intention.

If you intend to thrill every customer, you will attract and retain.

4 Talking Small Business With the New York Times

Marketing podcast with Loren Feldman (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

The world of traditional publishing has changed dramatically over the years and more and more publications are looking for ways to expand their coverage of small business as a way to pick up additional readers in this growing area.

On that note, my guest for this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Loren Feldman, Small Business Editor of the New York Times. The Times, a long established publication, has picked up its coverage of small business dramatically, particularly in the online space.

The You’re the Boss blog is a great home for information written for and, in some cases, by small business. It is further billed as a place where business owners can compare notes, ask questions, get advice, and learn from one another’s mistakes.

One of my favorite projects on the site is a user generated video feature called “How I Saved My Company.” Readers are asked to submit videos where they talk a little about their business, explain how they got into some form of trouble and how they saved their business. These are some pretty candid stories and offer inspiration and a chance to get a bit of exposure for you business on the site.

When asked the “What’s the best way to pitch a story to Loren” question – he offered:

  • Make sure you’ve read what were doing here and
  • Give me something fresh, something I haven’t seen

Many folks are claiming that print is dead and when asked Feldman offered that in his world that the New York Times is no longer a primarily print publication. According to Feldman, the New York Times publishes far more words online than in print.

The world of print has certainly changed and as someone that enjoys the occasional magazine and newspaper I hope the evolution of small business coverage continues to grow.

17 I'm just dying to blog about this

I clicked open my New York Times (I read the Kindle version) and was drawn to this story with this headline – In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

I started the story and I found myself looking around for the punchline, but I’m afraid they – the New York Times and Matt Richtel – were serious. Each paragraph was more bizarre than the next. I felt as though I had to have stumbled onto an edition of the Onion.

This was the basic gist of the content and the fact that two bloggers had died of heart attacks.

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

I’m sure Richtel interviewed a handful of bloggers that laughed at his premise, but like so many journalists he had already drawn his conclusions and all he needed was a few eager suspects confirm it. Look, I’m not usually so negative on this blog, but I’ve grown very tired of the media’s characterization of blogging. There is no question that you can find people who have become so obsessed with something they get paid for that they do it death (See gamers, lawyers, miners, athletes, prostitutes.)

In this case they found a handful of people with no life who are now being paid to have no life. So where’s the story in that?

Focus on real business stories like the alien baby who started a social networking site for, well, other alien babies.