Direct Marketing Article
Killing Your Competition with (Customer)
Kindness: Five Core Principles for Turning Clients and Prospects into Raving
In today's slow economy, there is no better advertisement for your business
than a happy customer who can't help but sing your praises. Here are five
core marketing principles that can help you turn all of your customers into
By Maribeth Kuzmeski
Once upon a time, customer service meant more than having your callers press
# 2 to wait (and
wait and wait) for "the next available representative." Companies
used to value
those who bought their goods and services and went the proverbial extra mile
to make them happy. Today, we're more likely to hear about a company that's
ripped off its customers, for example, Dell's deliberate selling of defective
any of the financial institutions' shenanigans that left customers with huge
losses while paying executives big bonuses. Than one that regularly delights
Failing to make your customers happy is more than a shame. It's slow-motion
corporate suicide. If you want to make it in today's crowded,
recession-wracked market, you absolutely must create clients and customers
who rave about your company the way they would their favorite sports team.
Obviously, making raving fans out of your clients is easier said than done.
If it were easy, then corporate giants that have plenty of money to throw at
such a concept would be overrun with happy customers.
So what's the big secret? In order to truly get clients to "go wild" about
your business, there must be an overriding and strong emotional
connection-the same kind that we feel when we cheer for our favorite sports
team, or support a cause that means something to us.
You can get others to connect to your company, product, or service by
emotionally energizing them through a passionate delivery of information.
This is a true differentiator, because so few people and businesses act with
this kind of enthusiasm. Thus, when someone is exhibiting passion about
something, we take notice.
In my new book, ...And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals
Win All the Business They Want, I lay out a blueprint for cultivating loyal
clients and generating growing sales through a collection of principles and
tactics that have proven successful for others. The idea is to trigger a
strong emotional connection in the minds of prospects and clients-followed
by a response that is so powerful that your loyal clients won't be able to
stop talking about you.
Too many businesses get caught up in trying to find the "perfect" clients.
The reality is you can't find the perfect clients; you have to create them.
You must give your clients reasons to keep coming back for more. You must
connect with them so strongly that they cannot help themselves from telling
their friends, family, and colleagues all about you.
I back up my assertions by presenting "case studies" of businesses that have
effectively created a loyal following of passionate and vocal clients. These
businesses have followed some, if not all, of the following five core
marketing principles. By executing these principles, you can follow their
lead. Read on for an overview:
1st Principle: What Are YOU Doing That No One Else Is Doing? In order
to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique-or do
something that no one else dares. It's true that standing out from the crowd
is probably the riskiest of the five principles. However, it may be equally
risky to run a conservative, "under-the-radar" firm these days - you risk
becoming an anachronism. While successful firms stick to their values, they
also find ways to be so exciting that people don't have a choice but to pay
Gaining exposure for your products and services today often requires a
Herculean effort. To cut through all the noise in your clients' and
potential clients' daily lives, you have to step outside of the current
norms and stand out. But in order to be noticed in a credible way, you must
have a compelling reason for grabbing people's attention. Your product,
promotion, offer, staff, or culture-or something else about your
business-must be unique in some way.
2nd Principle: Focus Your Marketing on Benefits, Results, and a Call to
Action. Another way to gain success is to ensure you are answering the
question, What's really in it for me? for your clients. Too many businesses
accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the
benefits-what your clients really care about. "Open 24 Hours" is a feature.
Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service,
with an emphasis on what the customer gets. For example, a benefit might be
that a product makes you look slimmer or saves lots of money on gas.
Too many companies leave it up to their prospects to figure out the benefits
of their products or services. Remember, you may be steeped in information
about your products and services, but they aren't. When you try to sell them
on features alone, you're asking the customer to do all the work-and she
probably won't. Bottom line: It's in your best interest to draw a crystal
clear picture of a product's or service's benefits for a prospective buyer.
3rd Principle: Go Viral! A viral message is an idea, notion, or
practice that's transmitted from person to person through speech, gestures,
the internet, email, or other media. It ignites and motivates people to move
the message. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or
services to attract attention-free benefits, information, software programs,
or downloads. It's essential that you do everything possible to make it
easier for people to access information or material that may go viral.
At my company, Red Zone Marketing, we recently decided to use free benefits
to initiate a viral marketing message. We began offering free downloads of
products-such as workbooks, books, and guides-that we had previously sold.
We could see the risk was paying off when my book The Connectors: How the
World's Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients
for Life was released.
Because of our free offerings, we had access to countless people who were
already familiar with our materials. Upon its release, the book began
selling fast in bookstores and through online booksellers. We had already
built some level of trust with potential readers and were able to capitalize
on the viral travel of some of our free products to sell the newest tool we
had available. This truly is an effective way of marketing and selling:
proving your worth, earning followers, and continuing to provide value that
people come back for again and again.
4th Principle: Leverage Your Business Network for Incremental Growth.
It takes a plan, but using your network - business and otherwise - can be
the miracle alternative to the typical grind of cold calls and prospecting.
A productive business network is filled with respected, well-connected,
influential people - called "Centers of Influence" - that share your target
market and have a complementary rather than a competing service or product.
You can capitalize on these connections by creating strategic alliances or
by simply sharing your networks and making referrals.
Don't ever forget that your clients are probably the best source of
leveraging in your business. When customers are truly delighted about their
experience with your product or service, they can become outspoken promoters
for your company. This group of satisfied believers can be your most
powerful marketing force to gain sales and increase your exposure and
influence, and can serve as an entire force of unofficial-and
5th Principle: The Ability to Execute Is Critically Important to Your
Game Plan. In today's fast-moving, completely networked world, superior
execution is clearly driving success for business. Small business owners are
great at adopting many new marketing ideas. What they are not so great at is
finishing. The best marketing strategy is the one you can pull off
If a business chooses one particular approach - for instance, setting up a
referral campaign - and carries out that one strategy until it's executed
fully and with precision, they are implementing the very best marketing
strategy for them. It is not the strategy as much as its execution that
achieves desirable results.
Many businesses give up too early on a particular approach when they don't
see immediate results. They then begin the long process of employing another
strategy, followed by another, and so on. The real problem here occurs when
companies try to execute a game plan that is focused on implementing
outdated or poorly considered strategies.
Perhaps more than ever before people want to do business with those they
feel they can trust. They are attracted to businesses they feel will go out
of their way to provide them the absolute best products or services
available. And the absolute best way to elicit that trust in prospects is by
having clients who cheer you on at every turn.
It comforts people to know that someone they trust is doing business with
you and loving it. Don't waste another second waiting to develop a marketing
plan that will influence your clients to go wild for you.
About the Author:
Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is the author of five books. She is the founder of
Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults with businesses from entrepreneurial
firms to Fortune 500 corporations on strategic marketing planning and
business growth. Maribeth has personally consulted with some of the world's
most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals. An internationally
recognized speaker, she shares the tactics that businesspeople use today to
create more sustainable business relationships, sales, and marketing
She is an international keynote speaker and regularly speaks to audiences on
topics relating to business development, marketing, and sales strategies.
She is also a member of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) and is a regular
media contributor appearing on Fox News, ABC News, WGN-TV, and in
publications such as The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, and
Forbes. For more information, please visit