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There's gold in dem dar hills!

DATE PUBLISHED: July 19, 2010
One of the nice things about an advertising agency is the ability to track trends. And by that I do not mean crystal ball gazing and tarot card reading a la Faith Popcorn. What I mean is because we have clients in different industries, that are different sizes and in different geographies, we can sometimes see a coming together of the collective minds.

Lately, we have had several clients, both new and existing, come to us with the same request. Well, it is not quite the same request, but they are asking for the same result. This of course reminds me of an old account executive, Chuck Marbley, who used to say that the key to a successful AE was knowing the difference between what a client was asking for and what they actually wanted.

What our clients want, in as many words, is more revenue. But it has been tossed to us in slightly different variations, and that is what sparked this particular blog. The first request was for us to help a client figure out why they were getting low cross sell between their offerings. Then came a request from another client in a completely different industry asking us to help them research and survey one of their customer lists. Then came another similar request. And one staff meeting soon thereafter we started to put the pieces together.

The fact that we are in a tough economic environment is obviously not a surprise. But these request were showing a subtle shift, and that shift is due to one brutal market reality right now: there are no new customers. If you want to get more marketshare, there is only one way to do it: take it from someone else. Suddenly advertising is getting more aggressive, claims are getting more outlandish, and old rivalries are being reborn. Heck, the cola wars are even back, with Pepsi firing off a new campaign recently courtesy of TBWA\Chiat\Day that goes right after Coca Cola. Marketing is turning into hand-to-hand combat, and all because if you want a new customer, you are going to have to pull them out of someone else's house.

Or is it really the only way?

We have a tendency in marketing to look for the next mountain to climb and the next town to conquer. Just over those hills is salvation, and marketing will get us there and uncover millions of new customers. It's an external facing process, because as we all know managing the existing customers is not our job. That's CRM, or customer service, or some other function that doesn't get to go to Cannes and win Lions all day long. Let's face it, it's boring.

But you know what? Maybe it should be our problem. Because in today's environment there are actually two ways to get more revenue. Conquering new towns and audiences is certainly one, but engaging and reselling your existing audience is another one. Yes there is gold in those hills, but there is also gold right under your feet. This is what our clients are asking us for, the ability to reconnect, reengage and re-sell to their existing audience. Want to know how to do the same for your clients? Then read on.

1. Know your list. Email lists, customer lists, registration lists...everyone has a list. And more than often than not there is more than one list banging around. That's fine, but make sure you know what you are dealing with. They say they have ten thousand emails? They don't. You know it and I know it. But if you accept it on face value, then that will become the baseline that you will be judged against moving forward. So if you want to know what the real number is, then...

2. Sample your list. You need to start finding out immediately what the real "pulse count" is...how many of those emails actually have a live person on the other end. Surveys, contests, special offers...it doesn't really matter what the device as much as you start getting a real sample of the list. And while you are at it, use outbound assets that test both what you and your client think is true about these people. You only get one chance, and then it is time for...

3. Understanding your list. Now comes the fun part...go talk to finance. No really, this is the fun part. Before you can start cross-selling and up-selling, you need to know one more thing about these customers: their margins. What products are more profitable than others? What products have the longest customer life? What makes a finance person happy? Because after the response rate, the ROI is what you are going to be judged against.

And now it's showtime. Taking what you have learned above, you can start to deploy profitable, efficient marketing on behalf of your client that will generate new revenue, create more customer loyalty, and give them better insight into their audience. And that is better than charging off over the hill any day.

Contact us for a free consultation!