Marketing Leverage Times – Spring 2006

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Marketing Leverage Times. Our goal is to provide you with provocative information and thought-provoking commentary on marketing and business issues to help you better leverage your investment in marketing programs, processes and people. We hope you will enjoy this regular collection of tips, tidbits and tools and we welcome your input and feedback. Tell us what you like and don’t like and what you’d like to see in future editions.


Ever notice how some organizations seem to be so focused on getting new customers that they seem to have forgotten about the existing customers who got them where they are today?

We recently had several occasions to use our American Automobile Association (AAA) emergency road service – flat tire, broken water pump, road hazard, etc. Each time we called the AAA emergency number, the operator took the time to read through a script that noted that we were long-standing AAA members and that AAA wanted to acknowledge our long association and thank us for our patronage. All this while I was standing next to a disabled vehicle wanting nothing more than to know how soon the tow truck would be there – rather than to hear the well-rehearsed AAA thank you script.

After the third of these incidents, we received a letter from AAA notifying us that we were using their service too frequently, and that if we were to be in the unfortunate circumstance of needing them more than once again, they would be forced to charge us for the privilege.

Wait a minute – didn’t I just listen to the long spiel about how we were one of their long-standing, most valuable customers? Didn’t they thank me for my patronage? Don’t most businesses want long-standing members to continue to purchase and use their services? More to the point, are the AAA people who send out the “overuse” letters talking to the call center staff who have been asked to lengthen the time it takes to respond to an emergency call by reading the long-standing valuable customer script?

In essence, do they really love me or not?

You’ve probably come across this yourself. You see a special offer to buy one month, get one free or sign up for X service and we’ll throw in Y and Z, too – only to find out this applies only to new customers, not to existing customers. It’s a great way to attract new business, but think about what your existing customers must be feeling when they realize they get absolutely nothing for sticking with you all these years, being loyal to you and your brand, and continuing to fund your ongoing search for new business.

It’s much more profitable to keep the customers you have rather than to generate new ones on an ongoing basis. Based on that premise, shouldn’t it make sense to offer rewards, incentives and discounts to existing customers as part of your ongoing marketing efforts?

Consider taking part of the budget for your next demand generation program and allocating it to a small thank you for your existing customers. Do it when it’s least expected and you’ll reap the greatest benefit. Don’t wait until they are dissatisfied or partway out the door to remind them how much you care about them. And for heaven’s sake, don’t thank them for their business while you’re chastising them for using your services.

Leverage Point Checklist

  • Are our new customer incentive programs also available to our existing customers?
  • Do we know who our strongest, most profitable customers are?
  • When was the last time we gave these customers a thank you incentive for supporting us?
  • Are we giving our best customers mixed messages about how we feel about them?
  • What kind of special program can I build to reward my loyal customers?
  • How do I say thank you without requiring a commitment on their part?
  • Do our customer-facing personnel know how to identify our top customers?
  • If so, do they treat them appropriately?
Customer Service

Shouldn’t you be rewarding your existing customers as much as your new ones?


Don’t over-engineer your product for your target audience. When integrating technology into your product, remember: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I recently bought new downhill skis and bindings. The sales rep at the ski shop was trying to impress me with the quality of the binding manufacturer. (For those of you who don’t ski, the binding is the apparatus that keeps you connected to the ski as you traverse down the hill.) He told me that one particular company is about to come out with the most advanced binding ever – a ski binding that will have its own computer chip and a small LED display on the binding itself. This binding will soon be available on high-end performance (read expensive!) skis. Read more


  • Do clients and prospects understand the real value you bring to their organizations?
  • Can you clearly articulate how hiring YOU will solve a customer’s business problem?
  • How do economic buyers differentiate you from other alternatives?

Leverage2Market President Linda Popky will be the featured speaker at:

WHAT: The Women in Consulting (WIC) South Bay luncheon
WHEN: Monday April 10th at 11:00 am
WHERE: Hobees in the Pruneyard in Campbell.

See more information or to register.

This is the first of a two-part series. The second presentation, to be held in May, features Erin Ferree, a brand identity and marketing design strategist. Her presentation is entitled “How to Make Your Business STAND OUT From the Competition” and will focus on how to harness the Power of Differentiation.


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