Customer Ecstatisfaction

In my previous post, I suggested a “Four A’s” framework for describing the marketing lifecycle: Awareness, Action, Affection, and Advocacy.

The second half of this framework–Affection and Advocacy–depends on cultivating promoters of your product or brand.  To cultivate promoters, a company generally strives to do well on measures of Customer Satisfaction… but what ambitious, energetic company really wants its customers to be just satisfied?

Satisfied customers may return, but ecstatic customers will return and bring their friends.

To really grow your brand, strive for Customer Ecstatisfaction.

The Four A’s of Successful Marketing

It seems logical that selling to the very core of your target market should be relatively easy, and that marketing will then get progressively more difficult (and more expensive) as you move out from that core.  For major growth, however, it would seem necessary to avoid diminishing returns on investment in marketing: rather, in an ideal world, each additional dollar spent on marketing would actually compound the impact of the dollars spent before it.  But how might this happen?

In search of an answer, I’ve been thinking about a potential “Four A’s” framework for understanding the marketing lifecycle, described by the following diagram:


1. AWARENESS: introducing a product or service to a potential customer for the first time.

2. ACTION: inducing the customer to engage with the product or service by taking a certain action.  This is generally a purchase, but could also include actions like signing up for a free trial or testing a device in-store.

(Note: this leap from Awareness to Action is admittedly a simplification of the AIDA model or purchase funnel: there’s quite a bit more that must happen to get from (1) to (2), but for the purpose of this lifecycle framework I find it helpful to consider the simplified form.)

3. AFFECTION: developing the customer’s enthusiasm for the product or service.  This is largely a function of the customer’s direct experience with the product, but is also supported by ongoing marketing (I would venture, for example, that advertisements for the iPad reinforce and increase fondness for the device even after a customer has already purchased it).

4. ADVOCACY: encouraging a satisfied customer to extrovert their satisfaction rather than keep it to themselves, and become a brand advocate by sharing their excitement with people in their networks.

In some ways, Advocacy is the most important of the Four A’s since it re-initiates the entire A-cycle, compounding the impact of the initial marketing efforts.  However, the Four A process is linear: there can be no Advocacy without each of the preceding A’s, so an effective marketing strategy must coordinate efforts on all four stages.

When building a marketing strategy (especially with respect to media mix) consider how each channel and tactic you employ is weighted towards these four stages of the marketing lifecycle.  Because the process of customer creation and retention is cyclical, insufficient investment in any one of the four A’s will limit the effectiveness of every other.

What do you think of this framework?  Is it helpful?  How might it be improved?

Choosing your altitude

Last week I took off from Newark amidst grey skies and driving rain.  Twenty minutes into the flight I looked out the window: the tops of the clouds below us indicated that the weather was still dreary on the ground, but from our vantage point it was a beautiful day.

If you go up high enough, it’s always a beautiful day.

This is true of life and work as much as of the weather: even when it’s raining cats and dogs, the sun is still shining above the clouds (but this is hard to remember when it’s raining on your parade).  We can’t change the weather, but we can choose whether we take the street-level view or the 60,000-foot view.  This is what “keeping things in perspective” is all about.

There’s a flip-side, of course: just because it looks like a beautiful day around you doesn’t mean it isn’t hailing on the ground: having your head in the clouds all the time is as limiting as being perpetually stuck in the weeds.

The key is realizing that perspective matters, that we can choose our altitude.  The challenge is knowing which altitude to choose.

The purpose of screens

There’s a screen at the entrance to the subway station near my apartment: I hadn’t noticed it until a few days ago, but there it is, displaying ads for X Factor and Pixar’s latest movie.  There’s also a screen on the building across from my office, more screens on top of the taxis on Broadway, and another screen that travels everywhere in my right pants pocket.  It seems like screens are everywhere these days.

Screens are everywhere

What do screens offer us?  What is their purpose?  At least some of the time, screens bring something into our immediate environment in order to transport us out of it (we can all remember being thoroughly engrossed in a movie, only to realize when it ends that the dishes are still in the sink…).

Screens are a portal to somewhere else.

Sometimes a portal is exactly what we need in order to be informed, inspired or relaxed; but a portal can also be a distraction from the most important time and place of all: right here, right now.

You’re reading this on a screen.  For ten seconds, stop reading and look around you: if you didn’t have a screen in front of you so much of the time, what would you pay more attention to?  What would you appreciate more, and what would you do differently?

Broken, or redesigned?

At MoMA’s Talk to Me exhibit, many of the displays have an audio component which is heard through a pair of headphones attached to the display.  At one display, the left earpiece of the attached headphones was snapped off from the headband:

Broken headset, or user-modified design?

This headset might look broken, but it’s actually a poignant example of users correcting a latent design flaw: when considered in the context of its purpose, the “unbroken” headset was limiting since it allowed only one person at a time to listen.  Breaking the headset into two parts improved its function by allowing two people to listen simultaneously.

Much of the time, we have such rigid conceptions of what objects or systems “should” be like that we accept their limitations instead of noticing them as opportunities for improvement.  To look beyond intended form or purpose and see objects for what they could be (instead of just what we’re told they are): this takes imagination.

Kids are imagination experts, highly skilled at seeing what could be instead of what should be, seeing opportunity instead of obstruction.  What would happen if you could think more like a kid again?  What would you see differently?  What would you create?

Friday at 6 p.m.

What did you do this week?  What are you proud of?  What was your gift?

Did you create something?

Did you inspire someone?

Did you make a difference?

The way we answer, I think, determines how much Friday at 6 p.m. really feels like Friday at 6 p.m. (or 5:00, or 11:00, depending on your work).  We all have a gift to give, and the knowledge that we have just given it is what makes the weekend feel so good: we have given our gift, in however big or small a way, and now we can rest.

The reverse is also true: if we haven’t given our gift, the arrival of the weekend doesn’t feel so good.

At the start of every week, set out to make the weekend feel great.