Have you evolved to the subscription economy?
Let’s face it: Your CEO didn’t ask Marketing to simply run campaigns. Marketing is tasked with generating more business and campaigns are the foundation to meet that objective. And yet we all understand that times have changed: Customers have more power than ever through word-of-mouth (WoM). Your best leads come from happy customers talking about you. But the opposite is also true: negative word-of-mouth is taking away opportunities you never knew you had.
Yet there always seems to be disagreement and reluctance about which department should lead the charge to identify and create more “advocates.” Customer feedback – whether good or bad – gets passed around quickly like a game of hot potato with all departments saying ‘not my job’ before flinging it from their hands as quickly as possible. But in fact, if you do it right, managing the process to identify promoters and detractors makes the life of the Marketer much, much easier.
The fact is that in a subscription economy, retention is key.
If you aren’t retaining clients, it doesn’t matter how many new ones you’re bringing in; you will lose money. The cost to acquire those new logos means that it could be quite some time before that new customer becomes profitable. So while new accounts are integral to growth, management of those already on board is even more so. Like a see-saw, it’s a balancing act with existing accounts on one side and new on the other: neglect one side and you will find yourself in the dirt.
So the question we have to ask then, what drives retention and growth?
What is going to make your accounts stay with you and buy more? Easy. Success, namely theirs.
You could have a wonderful relationship with Sally from Acme Inc. when you speak to her but if you aren’t bringing her company value it doesn’t matter. The account will eventually churn. Customer success will bring you retention and loyalty so if they are successful, then along the way you will be too. It’s the focus on mutual success which will accelerate profitable growth for you both. The secret is not to lose them before they become successful.
So, back to that hot potato still being passed around, who owns customer feedback and WoM? The quick yet complicated answer to that, just like profit, is, everyone. Customer success is a company-wide concern.
However, because Marketing is the growth engine, it has to take the lead. Just like the furnace that has to be stoked and tended to move a steam train, Marketing is the one feeding those flames, strategizing the amount of fuel needed for speed whilst the rest of the train focuses on passengers, maintenance and services. You can have the best train in the world but if it isn’t moving it doesn’t matter.
Let’s imagine for a second there was a Marketing wish list, wouldn’t these be on it?
- A larger budget
- Client influence
- Premonitory knowledge of strategy that would land or fall flat
- Campaigns which go further
- A team of dedicated marketers who aren’t on your payroll but are out in the field doing your work
Well that last one doesn’t have to be a pipe dream! In fact, if you harness your advocates properly that’s exactly what you can expect.
When you identify and activate your advocates you can find out who is doing your job for you, for free (and better than you can ever do it, since your customers are perceived to be unbiased). Advocates are telling their colleagues and professional partners about you in meetings or at conferences because you’re earning results for them. Your campaign budget is going farther because you’re getting a larger uptake due to the work your advocates are doing on the ground.
Harness those people, they are helping you do more with less. Their reach is right to your target audience and you pay them in public recognition, gift cards, thought leadership and other tokens of appreciation that they find valuable.
You see your wish list doesn’t require a crystal ball, just identification of promoters and detractors. Before long you will have built your own advocate army! Pass on who they are to your Account teams so that they have knowledge of key people in accounts to leverage and pass on to other parts of their company.
Advocates save you energy, money, resources and make your life easier. The days of a Marketing team disconnected from customer success are gone. We said it earlier: Acquisition is great but if you’re losing clients at the same rate you’re acquiring them, then you’re in trouble. Take off the blinders and look around rather than only forward. Businesses grow from opportunities and good leads and if you aren’t identifying those advocates or neutralizing your detractors you’re missing countless opportunities for revenue.
Good data is like currency.
It allows you to directly influence other departments and help them so you can become an interconnected whole.
Too many companies, despite their best intentions, are siloed. The fact is your clients are connected to many parts of your business, from Marketing and Product, to Sales and Customer Support, these teams should also have connections to each other to understand customer expectations and experiences. Marketing must connect these dots. And good data is the ultimate glue: giving your Products, Support, Services, and Sales teams trustworthy data about what’s working and what isn’t helps them stem the flow and makes their lives easier.
So Marketing must be entrenched in genuine customer success.
We’ve seen it work really well for our customers. When Marketing and Customer Success can work together to maintain relationships with account members, revenue grows and advocate armies are deployed. And when these insights are shared with Sales, Product and Support, the transformations are even bigger.
By knowing what expectations are being set and managed, and knowing how the company’s products and services are meeting those expectations, Marketing can pull the right levers to create the best-fit customer that stay longer. And let’s be honest, isn’t that what Marketing wants?
Looking for more growth strategies?
Check out ABM is the New B2B Growth Hack.