The third secret customers keep from you is which [future] customers to target. If you knew the answer to this question, you could grow your customer base in a cost-effective way by amortizing customer acquisition costs across a larger number of clients. There are two ways this may occur:
Ask for Qualified Prospects
Customers tell your company who would benefit from your product. This information won’t appear magically so you have to ask for it. (Note: some companies offer referral bonuses for this information. I’m against such perks because they introduce a quid pro quo aspect that resembles pork-barrel politics. Better that your product is so strong that they feel like their reputation will be enhanced in the process.) The company actively and directly participates in this method.
Earn Qualified Prospects
Customers tell their contact that you would help them solve a problem. This method is word of mouth (WoM) marketing and is one of the premises behind NetPromoter Scores. To make it work, the customer’s experience with your brand must be so positive (or cult-like in the case of Apple) that consumers purchase goods and services to be part of the experience. The company actively but indirectly participates in this method.
Gain Customer Trust
Regardless of which method you choose, your goal is to gain customer trust through a valuable customer experience:
- Know thy customer
- Create a great product that meets customer goals
- Support the customer like they’re the last customer on earth
- Develop some market buzz by appealing to perceived customer needs
- Laugh all the way to bank like Apple
The pivot point in this secret and others is that customers must trust your company and brand. Products and service must work together to create an experience that customers value. When this work is done customers become willing to reveal qualified prospects and interactions become collaborative endeavors which benefit company, customer, and shareholder.