An easy way to think of marketing is as the process of getting your customers to climb the loyalty ladder.
As they ascend the ladder, your customers become more loyal and their value to your business increases. They start off as Suspects and your objective should be to eventually turn them into Raving Fans.
On the bottom rung of the ladder are all the people who fall into your target market.
You can reach these people through various forms of promotion such as advertising, flyers, inserts, mail-outs, in-store promotions, etc. They are suspects because they may or may not be interested in the product or service you offer.
Suspects take a step up the ladder and become Prospects when they respond to your promotional material. They do this by phoning for more information, walking into your store or interacting in some other way. They have expressed an interest in your product or service by taking action.
When Prospects buy from you, they become customers and move up to the next rung of the loyalty ladder.
Converting a Prospect into a Customer is the purpose of the sales process. It can involve supplying information, making value added offers, giving discounts and guarantees, providing testimonials, etc.
Getting new customers is expensive – it costs six times as much to get new customers as it does to get existing customers to return. So you need to get your existing customers to come back over and over again. You want your customers to take another step up the ladder and become members.
You turn Customers into Members by giving them very good service and providing incentives for repeat business. Various methods can be used to give customers a sense of belonging, eg, giving customers cards like AA and Foodtown.
When Members become Advocates, they start telling their friends about you and why they should also use your product or service.
You get Members to take that step up the loyalty ladder by going the extra mile for them. You have to under promise and over deliver, ensuring your customers’ experience is beyond their expectations.
You create Raving Fans by delighting your customers — getting close to them and anticipating their needs.
The great thing about raving fans is that they do your marketing for you, saving you substantial costs while enhancing your reputation.