Which Waze to Go? How to Improve Customer Acquisition and Retention, Part II

Which “waze” to go when your customer acquisition misfires?

If you are driving on a highway and you abruptly stop at the edge of a cliff, it’s obvious why you can’t continue moving in the same direction.

When a company hits roadblocks in its effort to market to or acquire customers, there isn’t just one reason why it’s happening— there are a variety of reasons.  Not only are there a variety of reasons but (as those who work with me would tell you I will say):

“The different “waze” you fail are all connected and in most cases; interdependent”

Roadblocks in any business strategy are the byproduct of something larger.  It’s the symptom to a problem that is much larger.  As Peter Griffin would say “I’m not a doctor” but I prefer to treat the underlying disease as opposed to treat the symptoms.  

In business, the roadblock is the symptom.  The underlying disease is typically a collection of variables which have been left unsolved and as a result- undermine the efforts of good people trying to do the best jobs they can for the companies they work for.

Sounds good JP.  What do I do with this?  

You start asking questions. I was the first person in my family to go to college.  Being the first meant that I had no playbook in how to gain the most from my education. I learned through that process to seek out people with skills different than my own, and do my best to understand what made them excel.

In my professional life that journey continues, though, I now focus in how talented people solve problems. My focus is never the solution, it is methodology behind the thought process. Everyone wants the easy answer to a question.  Here’s the issue; the more complex the problem; the less straightforward the answers become.  This is why you develop a framework in problem solving that can apply universally to situations that make it easier to locate (and agree) on the underlying issue.

“Why did it happen?”

The first step is understanding, being able to catalogue, and honestly assess all of the different reasons why your strategy didn’t produce the results it was expected to. This process requires egos being left at the door and for all possible reasons that contribute to failure (no matter how remote) be evaluated.

“What could we have done differently?”

The next step is to isolate where and what factors could have been controlled internally and what factors could not have been controlled.

A cliche in sports for teams that lose is “well, they left it all out on the field- it just wasn’t their day”.  Or in the case of the New York Jets “It just wasn’t their fifty years." Marketing + Sales are not a guarantee.  That’s why they are called Marketing + Sales as opposed to Guaranteed Leads + Guaranteed Sales.


However, the “waze” we can reach potential customers expand, so too do the “waze” we can measure that engagement- or the efficacy of our efforts. While none of this stuff is guaranteed- the goal should be to leave it all out on the field.  Control absolutely everything that you can control and then let God sort it out.  The farther away a company gets from that philosophy the closer the strategy gets to the Career Builder commercial a few years back.

“What was clearly a mistake?”

Categorizing the reasons why you didn’t succeed in this way helps you to assign priority and decide what should be fixed first. Within these three categories, each of the reasons why you didn’t succeed typically falls into one of four buckets:

  1. People problems. One or more people involved in the customer acquisition process are the direct (or indirect) cause for the strategy to misfire.
  2. Process problems. Certain internal processes within the company create inefficiency, increased complexity or are even redundant.
  3. Data problems. There is a data quality issue that undermines the ability to report accurately and to draw business insights from data.
  4. Systems problems. The technology that is needed for business success is not present, out-of-date, not scalable or otherwise not positioned to add value.

Of the four types of problems, the people problem is the most difficult and stressful to solve for because, ultimately, companies need to position people to succeed. In order to hold people accountable, a company has to eliminate process, data and system problems first.

FAILtech Divergence: The inability to measure

Inability to measure is at the root of failed Customer Acquisition + Retention strategies.

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, no company can dominate or lead without accurate data + measurement. Successful businesses are successful because they leverage data and adjust their strategy to the type of customer they want to win. Setting people problems aside, let’s take a look at how the inability to measure applies to each of the other three types of problems:

Process Problems. While most companies are doing their best to integrate marketing and sales activities through technology, it is not uncommon for separate “Sales” and “Marketing” silos to exist within the organization. Consequently, marketers are not able to understand how the sales process runs across different customer types, personas, industries, etc.

Data Problems. The constant rise in cost per acquisition is causing marketers to focus on lead quality. Nowadays, it’s critical for success to know how a lead behaves past the form fill, how it reacts to nurturing and how well the sales organization converts that lead to a customer. Without accurate data about how leads behave at each step of the sales funnel, it’s impossible to know which leads are the most valuable.

Systems problems. In some companies, sales and marketing platforms are integrated but they are not configured to report on bottom-line business metrics. This creates a blind spot in reporting where it’s easy to access the number of initial sales but very difficult, if not impossible, to calculate the lifetime value. Measuring the true business impact of Sales and Marketing becomes a challenge.

To Be Continued...

Keep Reading!
Which Waze to Go?
How to Improve Customer Acquisition and Retention Part III

Part III will explain why companies that reboot their customer acquisition and retention strategies and adopt SMARTech Convergence will be unstoppable for years to come.
 

Change is inevitable. Progress is a choice.
Have the Courage to Prioritize Progress.