The Day You Start Losing a Client


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In episode 10 of the AMC primetime drama “Mad Men” ad man Roger Sterling of the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency is informed their agency has lost the Dr. Scholl’s account. His first reaction is to say, “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” Well, the setting for the show is the 1960s; long before customer relationship management (CRM) or customer loyalty discussions were top of mind for marketers.

That’s why I found a factoid in a recent survey published in BtoB magazine so interesting. The “2008 Marketing Priorities and Plans” survey was conducted online during the last week of November. The survey of 213 b-to-b marketers announced the following:

“The primary marketing goal for 2008 is customer acquisition, cited by 62.4% of respondents, followed by brand awareness (19.3%), customer retention (11.7%) and other objectives (6.6%).”

If I’m looking at those goals correctly, it appears to me that interest in new customer acquisition is greater than 5x retention. Do those numbers surprise you? Is the day you sign a client the day you start losing them?

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. The December 2007 issue of VARBusiness contains an interesting article related to my original post (The Day You Start Losing a Client). In an article by Scott Campbell (commenting on the 2008 CMP Channel State of the Market Study) the author states the following:

    “Traditionally, solution providers look for new business with their existing customer base because it’s a less expensive sale, but that may be changing, according to the survey. More than half of the respondents said they increased their number of customers over the past year by an average of 24 percent.
    Looking forward, VARs will continue to focus on gaining new customers to increase sales. The greatest share, 38.1 percent, are putting a high level of investment toward increasing sales by focusing more on new opportunities.
    That compares with 31.4 percent of VARs who are looking to increase sales by increasing focus on up-selling or cross-selling to existing customers. Last year, 27 percent of revenue came from new customers on average.”

    Both studies (BtoB magazine and VARBusiness) seem to validate that in the btob world there is renewed focus on the acquisition of new customers. Our business model is btob and I’ll admit we intend to put some muscle behind acquisition. However; I also know we can do better at cross-selling to our user base and we will continue with those efforts. How about other btob marketers? Where are you placing your bets?

    Alan See
    Blog: Welcome to Marketing 101


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