Customers Want to Find You

This morning, I found a statistic that affirms my belief that buyers become customers when they believe that they have discovered and understood a product without outside help. I touched on this in a recent post, here.

The statistic that I saw was that 80% of customers believe that they found and discovered a product themselves, whereas only 20% of customers think that they had been ‘found’ by the vendor. These statistics were reported last year by a company called Marketo and commented on the blog Enterprise Software Executive here.

find customers

There are a number of interesting points about this statistic.

My first thought was, okay, so how do we think about who discovers whom? For example, when I google for a phrase and find a company/product, I think I found it. When I see an advert and then go to the company’s website and then approach the company, I think I found the company. Or, when I am at a conference and see the company’s stand or representative and approach them for more information, I think I found the company. Or when I read a newspaper or blog article on a company, I think I found it.

The only instance when I think I didn’t find the company is probably when I get cold-called, spam-emailed, and direct-mailed.

The truth is: if the company didn’t have a website, didn’t search optimise it, didn’t advertise, didn’t attend conference, didn’t have anybody available to interact with bloggers and journalists etc, there would be hardly any way for anybody to ‘find’ the company. Well, maybe apart from direct word of mouth that is.

Obviously, none of the above is truly earth-shatteringly new. Marketers constantly talk about ‘lead generation’ and ‘brand building’.

Here is my penny’s worth of thought. Buyers don’t want to get advertised to. They don’t want to get discovered. They want to discover you.

I think marketing is a great deal about enabling people to discover you. Not the other way round. If you don’t believe me, just look at the statistic above.

So, how do you structure your marketing campaign? As a net that is supposed to enable people to find you? Or as a mechanism to establish brand and leads?

Maybe, this is the reason why search engines work so well. They are, by definition, there to help people find stuff. Maybe this is why buyers use them so much. It helps them find the companies they will buy from. And that is what they actually want.

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Customer Marketing vs. Customer Satisfaction

Have been doing a little bit of thinking around yesterday’s article.

iPhoneIt occurred to me, that in principle, customer marketing is a mislead approach. Customers don’t need being marketed to. Customer need to be excited about the product or service they are receiving. They need to be happy. They need to be delighted. The product or service should make their lives better.

Think about it. I am a customer, as used in yesterday’s example, of BT. If I was extremely happy with everything these guys did for me, wouldn’t I actually be looking forward to what they will do next? Wouldn’t I say: wow, these guys are doing it again, here is this new thing, and doesn’t it look great?

The whole approach would flip. Instead of them pushing, I would be pulling. Because I love what they do. Think this is nonsense? Ok, let’s use a couple of examples. Take Apple. Apple has great products. Although not all of them hit the sweet-spot (e.g. MacBook Air), many of them do. People love these products. Every time when Apple announces something, their customer (well, maybe not all of them, but enough of them) are eagerly awaiting what they will do next. Not only will they be likely to buy it, but they are also likely to evangelize it to their friends and colleagues. This also true for journalists. They will evangelize it, too. So you get additional free PR on top of it.

So, you think Apple is unique? How about the original Sony PlayStation. People went ballistic over how great that was. When the PlayStation 2 came out, the hype surrounding it was huge. Or take Innocent, the juice company. People love their juices. When Innocent does a little summer festival in London, 100,000s of people will go, just to have some juice (well, and some other stuff). Crazy. Or take Google. Look at all these little free products that they support just so that people like them better and use them all the time. So where do you go to do your search? Microsoft?

So, what all this says to me is: marketing to existing customers has to work through your products. If your products are great, your customer will market them for you and they will be very happy to take a look at everything else you do. BTW, this is one of the very good reasons why it pays to have free products. If people love them, they will consider your paying products, too. If your products don’t make your customers happy, you can throw as much money at people as you like, they still won’t buy from you.