Long time back I wrote a post about Customer expectations: once set, you may not take them away.
It is really hard to create a business out of something that you once gave free. I for example would probably lose some of the readers if I decide to outsource the content writing. Then the articles would not articulate my thoughts . People would think that I am neglecting it.
A case in the point
Recently I was told by my satellite TV operator that I, who was once a privileged customer of theirs and thus I was used to receive some of the services for free , am no more a privileged customer. Though I continue to pay the same amount of money from last many years, I seem to have fallen off the favour. Probably I am not profitable enough. As a customer , I hate the demotion. Even though they may be right on profitability part, they no longer have me as their goodwill ambassador.
Here is what I think they could do
Instead they could have just told me that my services are free but I can only avail them fewer times a year. They could have used some creativity in delivering the bad news, so as not to make me feel unwanted . Instead I get a newsletter stating that I am taken off the privilege list. Well thank you very much!!
On the other hand a hotel company that offered me a silver card ( one notch higher than the bottom most ) never took it back even even though I am not making that many purchases from them ( Yes, economy hurts not only businesses but their customers too). I have not received any “newsletter” from them about it yet.
Problem is with the marketing
The problem is with the way marketing is done. The customer is lured with great fanfare and delicious offers. Once he or she gets sucked in, companies realize that they over promised. Then they worry about profitability. Some of them become greedy and start using customer information for unethical targeting, without their permission. In the end they just use lazy approach to marketing like my satellite TV operator.
It is really hard work to make money both offline and on internet. People are getting more wary of the scams and fraudulent products. They rely more on friends and family to help them decide on the product they want to buy. A good friend will never advise a wrong purchase. To sell to people , companies need to win the trust. And it does not stop there. They need to keep the trust alive. That will make “making money” quite hard. Instead of being desperate to sell companies need to be creative , engage and communicate with their customers. They need to ask their permission before their data can be used.
That is what Seth Godin terms as “Permission Marketing”. ( Amazon affiliate link )
A fear is that permission marketing will provide for lesser sales. In fact it may lead to higher value sales and repeat buys (both because of higher trust factor), which are essential to long term business. Look, the need to purchase has not gone away. People still need to buy software and desk or gift jewellery to someone. What they don’t want is someone surreptitiously looking at them while they are not on their guard and then offering them based on their activity at that time.
Marketing is about more trust and not lesser
A privacy-breach-blocking add-on to my browser tells me that I have blocked over 5000 attempts to track me in one month by ad agencies. That is a lot of attempts. Why not instead ask me about my interests? Why not then offer me the right set of products? Why not tell the gullible public in advance that they are being tracked?
I do have tracking codes on my blog but it is for my own analysis. There is no ad network on this blog tracking the reader, only analytics code and social media buttons/badges to help me make my blog better. I feel I can still do better and I am exploring those ways.
The point is simple. It is a choice between short term and long term business.
- A company in for a long term will probably like to under-promise and over-deliver.
- They would like to keep their customers at top
- They take creative approach to marketing which is not intrusive
- They build on the trust they have gathered over time.
So here are three important factors of marketing
- Trust building
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