In the midst of the Great Recession, Joseph Jaffe wrote an important book called Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones (2010). In it he argues that the traditional sales funnel needs to be flipped around to focus first on your existing customers, rather than trying to gain new ones.
There’s a lot of wisdom in Jaffe’s book, especially his emphasis on not ignoring your current customers in pursuit of more and more new customers. His new model of a funnel is also instructive:
(from top of the funnel down)
Acknowledge your customers
Dialogue with your customers
Incentivize customers to remain loyal
Activate customers to evangelize for your company
But what I think Jaffe misses — or at least under-emphasizes — is the role of learning from your customers, of getting into their world. While it’s great to be available to help customers and “be human” in an age of over-automation, doing so misses an opportunity if it also doesn’t involve surveying customers and learning from customers. When a company does that, when they develop what we at Donnelly Creative call a Customer Playbook, it changes the game. You might say that it takes customer empathy to a whole new level.
Using a 3-step process, we help established companies understand what their customers want and then give it to them. That process looks like this:
When you truly understand and even partner with your customers (especially your best customers), you can escape from random acts of marketing and chasing after every shiny new object that vendors provide. And you can do that because you truly know your customers and have committed to making their success your success. while your competitors are losing customers and chasing after new ones to fill the void, you’re helping your customers to grow their businesses while taking your own business from strength to strength in the process.