Why your customers deserve a love letter
There are at least three lessons business should take from what the big screen teaches us about finding a soulmate. Get some tissues and a spreadsheet.
I’m an unabashed romantic in real life (and have been known to, um, know about a romcom or two). And I’d wager money that like me, you too know that pregnant moment in a particular kind of film when the lightbulb goes on for the protagonist. He has looked for love, acceptance, understanding, friendship, and maybe even higher purpose. He’s looked for the perfect person even as he’s been fixing his flaws and remaking himself. And he’s obsessed about who that perfect person might be…but can’t seem to find her (or him).
We’ve usually watched him endure heartache and make mistakes but also manage to make some small gains; typically with the help of a best friend, old friend, or new friend. And no matter what that friend looks like, she is most importantly a harmless, affable friend who cares for the main character before it’s cool or expected that anyone should. And at that fateful moment when the main character has hit some low point typically after getting what they thought they wanted, their face looks something like this:
It’s you. It was always you.
And we eat this up. This clumsy plot development device, this predictable trope that defines so many scripts on TV and on the big screen works for you even though you see it coming a mile away. Why? Because it talks to the romantic notion in all of us that you too just might be sitting on top of a treasure trove of unexplored and untold wealth in the form of a soulmate.
And guess what…you are.
Now I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in your love life, but I can tell you that somewhere inside your database of people who have given you time, energy and money, are some people that you should be scooping up and twirling around in the rain. You should be kissing them upside down in your spidey suit. You should be breaking through airport security to profess love at the gate (ok, ignore that last one).
Want to know why spending time with your “soulmate” customers matters when there are so many new customers to find? (tweet that)
Because they are the key to your business in three ways that could change how you innovate and grow in 2015.
1. Increase the potency of your brand
Stick by the ones who’ve loved you all along.
In the movies, our main character has usually been engaging in relationships for the wrong reasons or with the wrong people. The parallel for you is the users or customers in your system who are “Meh” about your offering. These Meh people take up your time and split your attention. By trying to serve them AND the people who immediately got you and what you’re trying to do, you dilute your message, your brand, and likely what your product or service does.
In this world of ubiquitous screens and always on content, attention is THE scarcest resource (tweet that). By talking to, running experiments specifically targeting, and planning for the customers who loved you before you were cool, you get to understand how THEY explain your story. Find more people like them and tell the story the way THEY tell the story.
Action: Segment your customer database along usage, lifetime value (“LTV”), and behavioral characteristics (you can use a service like Simplist to pinpoint messaging to different customer segments based on who they are & what they talk about). Highly targeted messages that demonstrate some personalization (i.e. NY customers, vs SF customers, or multiple purchase customers vs cart abandon users) drive 10–15X better engagement.
2. Improve the economics of your business
Find out why people think you’re good enough…and why they don’t.
In the movies spending time with the “right” person (probably) means, among other more romantic things, spending less money dating several people. In your business’ case spending time with the right hundreds or thousands of customers (far less judgement for “dating” around when we’re talking about customers, amiright?) means lowered cost of acquisition, higher LTV and maybe a more profitable business overall.
How? Not all of your customers love you for the same reason. Which means they are all are worth different amounts to you…and cost you different amounts to “date.” Learning why your “soulmate” customers love you means understanding what they did before you, what they wish you’d do better and understanding what tempts them away even as they stick it out with you. It means poking around until you understand why your most valuable customers (or users, donors, supporters, friends or clients) have invested time and money.
Action: Real live conversation with the customers in the segments you suspect are most valuable to you is a MUST DO. You have to actually get a few (or few dozen) on the phone, skype, google hangout or tin cup and get to the bottom of why the chose you.
3. Shorten your time to develop products & services
Your greatest source of collaboration and inspiration are the ones already spending money with you.
In the movies, true love last forever, unchanged and accessible as you last remembered it whenever you hit play on netflix or the DVR. In your business’ case, the landscape is changing so rapidly that you can’t count on what you did yesterday to meet your “soulmate” customers’ needs tomorrow. (tweet that) You HAVE to understand not just WHAT they need that you’re addressing for them now, but WHERE new need is emerging that you should consider addressing.
Actively encouraging feedback and criticism means soulmates feel heard. Start with their needs and behaviors instead of describing what you’re thinking of doing next to see if they’ll go for it. Map out your strategy for growth and innovation as a function of THEIR behaviors. Not the other way around.
Action: After you’ve segmented, emailed, tweeted, talked, and formed new hypotheses, run some experiments. Design a landing page or two to test new language or a new offering that you haven’t even built yet. Prototype a new product using manual labor. Why? Because you’ve done the work to understand your soulmates and what they need. Now you’re trying to see if you can deliver in a way that grows your business.
Even if only one customer is a “soulmate” customer, it’s worth your time to figure out why and how you can deepen that love. Show some love back in a personalized way and you might just learn a lot about how to tackle the next phase of your business.
So write a love letter. Reach out to those friends, users, customers and supporters who are uniquely positioned to help you be better. I’ve got your opening….It’s you. It was always you.
Go get em.
p.s. the author is not responsible for your relationship with your customers moving too fast.
If you need help figuring out how to build out the right products and services drop the proofLabs squad a note.