April 25, 2016

Your Team

It's one thing to tell a group of Executives who already think they know more about marketing than you know that you are going to focus all your efforts on Customer Acquisition.

It's quite another thing to get your own team to focus on Customer Acquisition - especially if you are new to your marketing team, and especially if your team likes trying to trick existing customers into spending more.

This is why you get paid a salary that most envy.

Do your homework.

If your Human Resources team will allow it, take a look at the performance reviews of each staff member. Who is considered a "high performer"? Who needs to be fired? Why does the person need to be fired? I took over a marketing team, and on day one, a Director and a Manager entered my office (together) and asked me to fire a fellow Manager. Ten minutes later, the Manager in question entered my office, and asked me to fix the department. Who do you think survived the next twelve months?

On your first day, hold a department meeting ... preferably early ... say 9:30am. Make sure somebody from Human Resources is in the room with you. At that meeting, clearly communicate that the focus of the department is changing, immediately. Share the ten year trajectory of the business, the tepid business you are now responsible for. Inform your team that what has been done in the past is not working. 

It is not working.

Tell your team that Customer Acquisition is what it is all about, going forward.

Tell your team that if they do not support your direction, they can leave. Stand up, walk over to the conference room door, open it, and encourage anybody who is not fully supportive of a Customer Acquisition program to leave right now. Stand at the door for fifteen seconds, for effect. While you do this, read the room. Who is frightened? Who is excited? Who is already texting somebody? Who is sleeping?

Then ask if there are any questions?

There should be questions.

Somebody who has been responsible for loyalty programs or mailing catalogs to housefile customers is going to raise a hand, and with a snotty attitude, inform you of the importance of maintaining customer loyalty. This person is going to ask "what is in it for me?" This person is potentially frightened, which is just fine, or this person is the first person to raise a hand and say "I don't agree with you".

Does your strategy apply to those who work hard to maximize sales from loyal buyers?

Absolutely.

It is the job of the loyalty or housefile staffer to greatly increase profit per customer. Why? When profit per customer increases, then you can spend more to acquire a new customer, allowing you to ... wait for it ... wait for it ... acquire more new customers!

In other words, you may not be able to get customers to become more loyal, but you can most certainly find ways to generate more profit from existing customers. Go hire Clario and have them optimize housefile contacts ... that alone will increase lifetime value, allowing you to spend more money acquiring new customers, allowing you to acquire more new customers, allowing your initiatives to look successful.

Another staffer is going to raise a hand ... "does this mean we get to spend more with the co-ops?" Short-term, the answer is probably "yes". Long-term, the answer is absolutely not - you are going to use offline/digital low-cost tactics to find new customers. In the short-term, you are going to take the cost savings generated by your loyalty staffers, and you are going to spend it acquiring new customers, growing new customer counts. You need to have early wins in your program, or people will quickly lose focus and/or faith in you.

Put slides up on the screen, thirty or forty examples of how other companies find new customers at a low cost. Clearly communicate that this is the kind of thing your team is responsible for, going forward.

Pro-Tip:  You are going to pay your staff healthy bonuses when they exceed customer acquisition goals. The bonuses motivate staff to do what you are asking them to do. Without the bonuses, you're just another marketing leader they are trained to ignore.
  • Analysts = 15% Annual Bonus.
  • Managers = 25% Annual Bonus.
  • Directors = 40% Annual Bonus.
Make this announcement at the end of the meeting. You want the room to play their cards, you want everybody to share what they are upset about, before you get to the good news.

Summarize your points, and end the meeting with a clear message that, going forward, customer acquisition is the focus of the marketing department. End the meeting.

This is where the fun starts.

Watch who heads out into the hallways or lunch room or parking lot to gossip. These are the people that are likely to not support you.

From this point forward, do not waver. Your department is in charge of finding new customers. Never let them forget it. Measure results, and share results at every single staff meeting. Give out $500 spot bonuses when people try new tactics, regardless whether they succeed or not.

I know, I know, your company does not pay bonuses, much less spot bonuses. Tough. Find a way to make this happen. Your team is going to generate a ton of profit for your business over time. Your team deserves to be rewarded for generating profit.

P.S.:  I get it ... you're not the kind of person who stands at the door, silent, for effect, encouraging folks to leave if they don't like something. That's ok. What is your solution for creating impact? Do something congruent with your personality style. But please, DO SOMETHING!! What we've been doing for a decade is not working. You have to find a way to reach employees, many of which have become complacent, some are waiting for retirement, others are buying time before a good job appears. If you have to, tell your team that you are a developmental organization that prepares people (well) for their next job ... ask for excellence so that you can give a great review when your employee wants to go work for Snapchat.