The first time I heard Adrian make this statement I thought “Okay, here we go, another pitch about making it quick, easy and convenient for customers.” Then I got a chance to read a prerelease copy of her new book, The 24-hour Customer: New rules for winning in a time-starved, always-connected economy.
Adrian is talking about something much more important than timesaving. Consider this, in one situation people are very stingy with their attention and in another they seemingly waste hours. If you don’t understand the “new rules” governing this behavior, you will, at best, be force to sell on price. If you own, run or lead a business, I highly recommend this book.
If you think the new rules concept is over-blown, read on, then make your decision about reading Ott’s book.
Sustainable profits, let alone growth, are not easy these days – ask almost any business leader or owner. When pushed for a reason, globalization and foreign competition frequently come up. Or, you might hear, prices drop so fast you can’t make any money and you are stuck with obsolete products.
Often, there is a little anger in the responses. It is easy to dismiss both the message (too simplistic) and the messenger (too defensive). Well, the objective evidence doesn’t paint a rosy picture either. Here are three realities that are hard to ignore.
Consumer spending is down and it is not rebounding the way it did following previous recessions. The theory of pent-up demand has been replaced by tough credit and debt. This won’t change any time soon. According to research by economist Richard Rumelt, debt-to-income ratios are too high for most people. This ratio went up exponentially over the past three decades and has reached a breaking point. There is too much debt and too little credit. This means customers will scrimp to splurge. They will scrimp on things that have less emotional value to splurge on things that do.
Brands are in trouble! Brand equity and trust has seriously eroded. Sure, consumers began choosing store brands over name brands when the recession hit and many have concluded there is little real difference except price. But, brand equity and trust have been eroding for more than a decade. If you don’t invest in the value of your brand, how will you win new customers and keep the ones you have?
Customer churn has escalated. In tough times, commonly given advice is to protect your most loyal customers. Good idea but the old strategies are not working. A study of over 32 million consumers across 685 brands found that over 50% of the most loyal customers became less loyal. Worse yet, a third of loyal customers defected completely.
These three studies should shock you into action! The marketplace doesn’t function the way it used to and many old ways of doing business are counterproductive.
Now back to Adrian Ott’s insightful book. The studies of brands in trouble and customer churn both acknowledge that there were exceptions – some companies are thriving into today’s marketplace.
What do they know? What rules are they playing by? Well, Adrian’s book will help you unravel the puzzle.
What you will learn is that customer behavior is full of paradoxes when viewed from a traditional sales/marketing perspective. Take the position that,
Time isn’t money anymore. Time is more important than money
Time starved customers are often stingy with their time and attention. However, there are circumstances where they splurge on time, attention and money. Ott tells the stories of companies who have figured this conundrum out and are thriving. More importantly, she explains the rules that govern this customer behavior and give a framework for taking action.
Want customers to splurge with you, value your brand and become advocates rather than churn – read this book.