What creates business growth? Why do organizations expand and or contract? How do you increase your customer base?
It has been something that has been racking my psyche for the better of two decades. Working with over two hundred companies from large Fortune 500’s to start-ups and everything in between.
We’ve seen some marketing work and some fall flat. We have seen some sales organizations close at an exponential rate and others barely survive.
What do certain organizations do that others don’t?
With over 21 years working in sales and marketing, a model and framework began to take shape which has evolved to become our 5 A’s of Marketing in which we develop your ‘Customer Growth Map™‘.
Those five A’s or Stages include:
After working with organizations both small and large, guess where you think most everyone wants us to start. Yep, you guessed it, Acquisition.
And for many years, we would cave in and start at Acquisition and often would fail. After a lot of trial and error, agonizing over those failures; then going back and studying the successes, we discovered, there are prerequisites to ‘acquisition.’
So before we explain the challenge of starting at ‘Acquisition, let’s define these 5 stages of the ‘Customer Growth Map™.’
1. Attention is an Acknowledgement of you and/or your brand.
Customers or prospects see your name in the marketplace. Know you are there and your brand has escaped anonymity. Customers know of your name or logo.
2. Awareness is Recognition & Understanding of your company, product or services.
In this stage, your potential customers may have an idea of who you are and what you do, all the way to clear recognition of your name and/or logo and have an understanding of what industry you are in or what you solve. Curiosity may begin at this stage.
3. Acquisition starts when there is a customer need or desire. They start to research or investigate or the customer is ready to seek your business or competitor for products or services.
4. Adoption starts with usage. The client or customer begins to use your product and expand on its capabilities. This will range from initial use to preference and possible loyalty depending on your industry.
5. Advocacy is Word-of-Mouth Marketing.
This can vary on how much they love your product from your channel partner to the most rabid fan. They include
We will go deeper on each of these and why each is important in future posts.
In the meantime, let’s get back to why it’s challenging to start with Acquisition. Acquisition of a customer is difficult off the bat because you have no or little brand equity yet. They don’t trust you, they don’t like you because they don’t even know you yet.
In relationships, it’s the equivalent of some random person coming up to you and say “you don’t know me, but marry me.”
Now if you’re asking to just have coffee, maybe. And that’s a BIG maybe. Back in school, most people have seen you around, you might have caught their eye walking the halls every day (Attention), and you may have chatted a couple times between acquaintances before you even get a first date (a sales call.)
Now are their anomalies? Sure. But do you want to base your entire business on lots of anomalies? of course not.
That’s why big business spends millions to capture your attention via billboards, sponsorships, and other branding campaigns to keep their name in front of you. I believe the ad world has gotten the terminology wrong all these years, or they are using it out of context for the most part. It’s not brand awareness. It’s NOT brand awareness. It’s brand attention. It’s only brand awareness if they already know what your product is or does like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s.
This brand attention builds brand equity through the law of frequency and law of familiarity. Just like seeing that future date walking the halls every day in school.
Awareness begins when you bump into each other and start to talk. You may begin to find common beliefs, common interests and understand each other’s traits an value may offer.
It’s then that you might begin to explore the first date or in business terms, seek a demonstration or a first meeting.
So while there are plenty of one-offs, and plenty of salespeople who sell on the first knock of a cold call, it’s more than not far and few between. It’s usually the 6 or 7th call or solicitation before they even get a meeting with the decision maker. Particularly on larger or more complicated sales.
Can you start with Aquisition? Yes, but know you it may take longer and you may even invest more time into an acquisition.
In future posts, we will dive deeper into each stage and explore what to do and what to expect if you start with acquisition.
Do you follow this growth map? Let us know what has worked for you in the comments.
Please share this with someone who wants to massively grow their customer base.