For the second interview of our marketing personalization book series, author Noah Fleming shares his thoughts about the upcoming book Evergreen: Cultivate The Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving. Noah is an expert blogger for Fast Company Magazine, and has been quoted and mentioned as a marketing authority in publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Reuters, and more. Here’s what Noah had to say about the challenges of customer retention:
How did your concept of an Evergreen business become a book idea?
I was on my honeymoon staring into a forest of evergreen trees in British Columbia, and the Evergreen metaphor was staring right back at me. A great business is very much like an Evergreen. The majority of companies are more like deciduous trees. Winters are cold and harsh because they’ve allowed their customers to drop like dead leaves. Wouldn’t you rather stay green and thrive all year long? That’s what this book is all about.
You review the three C’s of an Evergreen business – character, community, and content. Which is the most challenging for your customers to embrace?
It’s challenging to convince organizations that their “content”–the shorthand I use to describe the thing they give in exchange for money–is almost secondary to their character and community. Your products and services have to be the best, of course. But if you don’t have the proper systems in place to retain customers and develop long-term profitable relationships with them, then you’ll never be as successful as you could be.
How do you convince management to focus (read: invest) less in customer acquisition when the competition is growing at an accelerated pace?
It’s not about focusing or investing less on customer acquisition. It’s more about finding the right balance between acquisition and retention efforts. It’s about knowing where you should be focusing your energy, and where you should be investing your marketing dollars to generate the greatest return on investment. If you have the right processes in place you might actually invest more in acquisition if you’re able to attract, nurture, and retain the right customers. My classic line is this: If you only ever hear your sales and marketing team talking about getting customers and never about keeping customers, then they’re only doing half their job. Unfortunately, this is usually what’s going on.
Have you seen customers adopt Evergreen strategies, only to discover that customer acquisition grew as an “organic” side effect of improved customer retention?
That’s exactly the point of the entire book. You can’t help but grow if you improve your retention efforts. The philosophy of Evergreen is really about putting the right systems in place to naturally attract your ideal customers, retain the ones you already have, and maximize the value of every customer interaction. I consider it a strategic framework for dramatic growth. Much like an actual Evergreen, your customers can provide eternal life, growth, and regeneration. Who wouldn’t want that?
Did distilling your ideas into a book have an impact on how you do business?
Absolutely. I had been thinking about these concepts for a few years before I felt it was time to write a book. I soon identified the three Cs as areas where problems could be identified and solutions could be implemented. Once I saw these patterns clearly, I could easily solve dozens of problems related to everything from sales and marketing to customer service and more. In short, I could help a business go from losing customers and money one day to keeping customers and making money the next.
Has your work with customers affected the way they adopt and use new technologies?
My work has made my clients more mindful that they don’t need to jump from platform to platform in a mad rush to stay in the face of every potential new customer who might be out there. Instead, they slow down and they focus on their ideal customers with laser-like precision. They know how to appeal to them, how to attract them, and how to do it with total relevance. They’re not tweeting into the unknown. They’re not endlessly poking, or pinning and hoping they hit someone! Instead, they’re doing everything with purpose.
Aligning a company’s purpose with customer needs is one of the top challenges any marketing initiative must address. The key to success is highlighting that purpose with proven processes, including automation, personalization and conversion optimization.
Get more inside insights from marketing authorities: read the Buyer Legends interview with best-selling authors Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg, also included on our top 5 list.