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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Addicted Customers: Get 'em Hooked on Your Company

Why Authenticity and Why Now?

Authenticity. Sure, everyone knows it's the currency of the blogosphere. It's also become legal tender for any business striving to succeed in the 21st century.

So, “Why authenticity and why now?” Enter Addicted Customers, the
John I. Todor book, which serves as a manual for Book cover of Addicted Customers by John I. Todor, Ph. D. | CRM | Customer Relationship Marketing | B2B Copywriting
companies looking to build long-lasting, highly profitable relationships with
their customers.

It was my pleasure to see Professor Todor speak to the Northern California Chapter of the Business Marketing Association. He made the concepts in his book real for me in a personal way I explain below. Unintentionally, he converted me to the Mac!

First, a quick overview of this groundbreaking book followed by a closing thought for copywriters.

Addicted Customers Answers Both

With a bevy of research, Addicted Customers answers the “Why authenticity?” part by pointing out how our higher needs (e.g., friendship, family, self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect, morality, creativity, spontaneity, challenge, and acceptance of the transcendent aspects of life) outweigh the things we presumably have under control (i.e., biological needs like breathing, food, water, sleep, and digestion, plus the security concerns of person, property, health, and employment).

As for, “Why now,” Professor Todor gives Economics 101 a reality check. Consumers may still seek to “maximize their utility” from every transaction, but today, most physical goods are in abundance, information overload is the norm, and fulfillment of our higher needs is where scarcity hurts. Aggravating this scarcity is the common perception that most businesses are greedy, out to win in a zero sum game.

Value is in the Heart, not the Hands

For companies whose dealings with customers focus on efficiency and the transaction itself, it's time to “think different.” The new conditions that define value are not locked up in the product itself. Rather, they reside in the positive state of being the product helps the customer to experience.

Companies that “get it” enjoy loyal customers who will scrimp in other areas to splurge in theirs. These customers will evangelize the company to their family and friends. They'll even take the time to provide you valuable feedback.

Companies that continue business as usual will slip into commodity status in a never ending cycle of discounting and touting of advantages their rivals duplicate ever more quickly.

A Personal Example – What Won Me Over to a Mac

When I saw Professor Todor speak, unintentionally, he converted me to the Macintosh. Never having owned a Mac, I'd never set foot in an Apple store before. When Todor explained how every Apple store has a “Genius Bar” where an Apple employee will help you do anything you want on your Mac at no charge, I was stunned.

OK, don't laugh or ask, “Eric, have you been living under a rock?” Welcome me to the fold instead… ;)

In Summer 2004, I went to BestBuy, bought an HP laptop running Windows XP, and purchased a 3 year warranty from the Geek Squad. The warranty was restricted to hardware issues only. You're on your own for software. So, whom do you go to for software matters? Microsoft? HP? BestBuy? GeekSquad?

What does this say to me? Right or wrong, “No one in this quartet wants to step up to the plate, and help make my life easier – at my convenience, anyway.” Instead of converting me to a religion and future evangelism, I'm thrown into a state of guarded, resentful stinginess, even if no single party is at fault.

The very thought that I could take a short drive, pull up a chair, talk with a human face to face, and get to the heart of a software matter was an epiphany. You can bet my next laptop will be a Mac.

Coming Full Circle

It's not that a Mac will let me do something impossible with a PC. For me, the value is not in the Mac itself. It's in how much further along I can get in my business with smart help and no consulting fee holding me back and how that makes me feel . If I pay a hundred or two hundred dollars more for a Mac upfront, I know I'll make that back in one round at a Genius Bar.

It costs Apple to run the store and staff it with savvy people, but they win down the line. The store is more than a place for transactions. It's somewhere to hang out and learn. And more sales for Apple along the way.

This is relationship marketing above and beyond the transactional focus of “recency, frequency, and monetary value.” Each side gives up something in the short term to reap higher value in the future.

Beat a Path to Addicted Customers

Addicted Customers lays out a path companies large and small can follow to transform their appeal from product and transaction to experience and life-enhancement. It's packed with examples that range from mom and pop restaurants to enterprise software.

Timeless wisdom. Timely advice. Tap into it.

The Authenticity Economy: People don't Change, Circumstances Do

What's fascinating here is keeping sight of what's eternal and what changes. Human nature is a constant. Our needs may evolve from basic to higher order, but that's just our core adaptation mechanism at work. What drives that adaptation is changing – society and technology.

How this interplay of human nature, society, and Web 2.0 interact in what I term, the “Authenticity Economy,” is a theme I will explore in future posts and articles.

A Special Note for Copywriters

After drawing an analogy between product and copywriter as that of racehorse and jockey, copywriting legend, Gary Bencivenga writes:

“Remember that most businesses make real money only on repeat sales. While a good copywriter can make a prospect hopeful enough to try a product, he or she can't make that customer delighted enough to buy it again. Only you and your product can do that.”

The timeless upshot for copywriters is to align themselves with companies that are champion racehorses in their space. Addicted Customers gives copywriters a modern way to identify the right breed.

Your Turn to Howl

If you have any thoughts on:

  • Addicted Customers
  • the future of customer relationship marketing (CRM)
  • the future of copywriting, or
  • how both CRM and copywriting are changing,
please add your comments below.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article, Eric.

I've found relationship to be a common thread in all my repeat business.

Of course, I have to get results, but these days that's a minimum. Just because you get results doesn't mean you'll get repeat business.

The relationship I develop with my client transcends the product I sell: copywriting.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger Eric Rosen said...


Thank you. Yes, it seems relationship is essential to repeat business in any field and that that is Todor's core message.

Stopped by your blog and love the design, layout and usability.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the compliment, Eric. I have Typepad to thank for the design. I'm not very tech-savvy, so I just use their pre-made templates. :-)


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