I had the privilege of attending the Fourth Annual Privacy Forum this past July, held by Donnelley Marketing and infoUSA in glorious Aspen, Colo. It doesn’t get much better than a meeting of the brightest direct marketing minds surrounded by incredible mountain vistas. The majority of attendees spent most of Friday day and Saturday morning inside at sessions, which speaks volumes about the caliber of ideas shared at this event.
This gathering of industry leaders included the “marketing doctors”: Martha Rogers, Ph.D., of Rogers & Peppers Group; Paul Wang, Ph.D., of Northwestern University; and Tom Peters, Ph.D., coauthor of “In Search of Excellence.” Here are some of the lessons learned from Wang, Rogers and Peters on the subject of connecting with customers in the privacy era:
1. You can’t intimidate customers to buy from you, says Wang. A far better approach is to charm them into wanting to do business with you. It’s like training championship horses, he explains. The trainers don’t break the horses’ spirit to get them to perform; rather, they use exercises that engage the horses’ sense of curiosity to make them want to compete. The same principle applies to people: You must use compelling offers that clearly show people they will get more benefit from buying your product than they would from your competitor’s.
2. Harley-Davidson achieves amazing customer loyalty and business growth because it has a crystal-clear view of its business goal: To make aging, white men feel cool. If your organization does not know what need it fills for customers, says Peters, how are prospective customers supposed to figure it out?
3. Companies need to rely less on technology to become customer-centric and more on old-fashioned business strategy, says Rogers. One way to do this is to look for value-added services that help customers personalize your product offering, making it less enticing for them to take their business elsewhere. For example, voice recognition services on cell phones allow customers to program their friends’ and family’s phone numbers by voice. Once the customer has added 150 contacts, Rogers asks, will she really want to go through that all over again with a new cellular service company?