It was EIGHT YEARS AGO this week that we began this incredible marketing journey together and we celebrate your patience as we have rambled through the plethora of marketing ideas facing teams as we tried to make sense of the changes that directly and indirectly affect how we each go to market each week. We were serious when we stated, “Marketing is the center of all things good.” Long time readers have watched us morph from a “loyalty” focus to a “relationship” focus to a marketing agency that is focused on strategy, analytics and tactics that influence the next sale. Thank you.
We could stop now and rest on our laurels but that is no fun because once again we have a new twist on marketing to share.
Mother’s Day weekend was the annual Minnesota fishing opener and as you would expect in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this is a big deal with more than one million anglers out on the water chasing the tasty walleye. We were not part of that hoard of damp masses but we did realize that a current marketing strategy has its hooks rooted in fishing.
It is quite common today to play the game of catch and release when fishing. Catch enough for a shore lunch and then release the rest back into the lake. Catch and release has become a common marketing tactic for many brands and retailers. We hook a new customer, measure her, take a picture of her, and instead of keeping her in the net, we release her back into the marketplace with one pound test line to reel her back in for another sale. And then we wonder why retention levels in most industries are so low and why satisfaction levels are subpar.
You may argue that’s not really a tactic, but the facts speak for themselves. A few issues ago we said that customers are free agents the moment they walk away from the business. Contemporary marketing jargon has moved from loyalty to relationships (CRM) to engagement (CEM). The problem with engagement is that it’s single dimensional thinking. What’s missing is the concept of re-engagement and that has been our focus for the last 25 years.
This week’s AH-ha! moment asks you to define your brand’s strategy for re-engaging a customer to return. If you don’t have one, you are playing the catch and release game.
The Marketing Implications
Our No. 1 marketing goal is to hold on to customers. We call this retention. Granted some customers are both a pain and unprofitable and we should encourage them to shop with the competition. Others are low volume and while we should not put marketing dollars against them, we still want them to shop and help cover fixed costs. Your growing customers with potential to become your best customers and your best customers are always at risk and these should be the ones to keep in the boat. This requires re-engagement on a massive scale.
The challenge is finding the right re-engagement strategy. Many brands do it with making the last sales event seem small in comparison to the next one. Thank you, Macy’s.
Others are turning to social media for re-engagement. Express stores are now starting to reward their customers for social media interaction. They are rewarding brand interaction via social media. In a new loyalty program, Express will reward customers with points when they purchase a pair of Editor pants and also when they post about the 1MX shirt on Twitter. The Twitter post might influence someone else to shop but there is no guarantee the customer who posted will shop again soon.
Re-engagement begins by knowing your customers – the analytics that are the central core of our Group 3 Marketing focus. Data mining allows the brand to be relevant, not only in story building but also in creating new merchandising mixes that cause buzz and re-engagement.
Eliminating catch and release is complicated and there is no quick fix. The first step in your process this week is to recognize that catch and release may be happening to your brands and you need a plan to combat it. Ask your team if your marketing and operations strategies create barriers to re-engagement and encourage catch and release.
There is no silver bullet. After eight years of wading along the shoreline of the marketplace, we know that patience rules. We also know that eight years has taught us that we can make a difference by thinking differently. All it takes is one new idea to influence the next sale. As Jim Collins writes in his new book “Great by Choice,” companies that succeed in time of chaos are those that recognize the way through this paradox is with fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, and a hyper-aware, proactive approach.
Have a fantastic week.
Bart Foreman and the Group 3 Marketing Team