Customers: The Thing Businesses Can’t Live Without

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Customers. They are the single most important aspect of any business.
Getting them and keeping them happy is, or at least should be, everybody’s Job 1 when it comes to establishing and growing their business.
Back In The Day
In the early days of modern marketing (the 1950s), there was something we call the “If You Build It They Will Come” principle.
In America, for example, an ad in the Saturday Night Post, for example, would literally reach tens of millions of people. And since it was read by everybody in the family, you could place ads directed to consumers or business owners, because, as they used to say..,“Everybody Reads The Post”
Another very effective way for consumer advertisers to reach the public and build brand loyalty was through the sponsorship of radio, and then, television shows such as the Texaco Star Theatre and the General Electric Playhouse. Companies like Procter and Gamble, would not just sponsor shows, but actually, commission production and create what we refer to today as soap operas.
In the smaller post-WW II world, these media were extremely powerful and did a great job of making everyday products a part of the culture of middle-class family life. On the business side, trade journals and direct marketing were the preferred media.
The Original Main Conventional Customer Acquisition Tools
Up until the advent of the Internet, there were 5 main media that were useful in establishing and building customer bases for both B to B and B to C businesses.
1. Media Advertising: Primarily TV, Radio, Newspaper, and magazine advertising (consumer and business/trades).
 2. Direct Marketing: This provided more ‘depth of sale’ and accurate response tracking, gained primarily through discount coupon redemption.
 3. Public Relations: The other side of the media advertising coin, which allowed advertisers to sponsor articles about product usage etc.
 4. Consumer & Trade Shows: This medium gave companies the opportunity to display their products face to face with their prospects.
 5. Direct Sales: In the retail products industry, this encompassed both selling to retail store and chain owners as well as direct door-to-door sales.
Today, Things Have Changed, But Not Really
In the latter part of the 1990s as the Internet started to grow tentacles it created many different forms of digital or online media including targeted email, pop up ads, search engine and directory listings, social media ads & sponsored links, podcasting & video broadcasting.
Digital marketers, many of whom are quite ignorant of the history and power of conventional media, have been working for a good decade now trying to convince advertisers that these digital media are the ‘new way’ to attract and keep customers.
But recent tracking studies from several major advertisers and business analyst groups have shown that this is only true to a very limited extent and that conventional media are still much more effective, regardless of market sector.
The Two Caveats
Any discussion about digital marketing these days has to be qualified by the phrase… “It all depends on what business you are in”. Because currently, for the vast majority of businesses, the amount of work required to cover the time and expense of digital marketing can actually be either a break-even or money-losing proposition.
The digital world is still, relatively speaking, in its infancy. For all its visibility, its actual market penetration is quite low. But it is growing, and because it is not something that can be completely disregarded based simply on current performance stats in certain categories.

The 3 Most Important Questions You Need To Answer First
Moving your business forward requires a huge amount of effort in terms of thinking, planning and expenditure. Knowing the answers to these three questions, before you invest in any sales and marketing, can invariably make the difference between success and anything less.

• Who Are Your Customers?
• Where Can You Find Them?
• How Can You Reach Them Effectively?

These are questions that only you, and whoever you choose to help you, can answer. And it is, or at least should be, the comprehensive answers to these questions that form your strategy for acquiring and keeping the customers that are the lifeblood of your business going forward. 

This is not an easy job. But nothing really important in business is ever easy.
A Parting Thought
“Make a customer, not a sale.” – Katherine Barchetti

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