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Even in a tough economy, it's possible to win new customers and keep your existing customers, too. The key is to put your marketing brainpower behind saving customers time, money and effort.

Let's face it. Traditional marketing tactics are steadily losing effectiveness. Customers don't have enough time to read--let alone respond to--run-of-the-mill ads and promotions. Running another ad isn't going to solve your problems, and besides, your budgets are probably under pressure anyway.

Customers Want Less

Want to grab a customer's attention? Want to lock in their loyalty and capture a greater share of their business? Save them time, money and effort.

To do this, just think of LESS:

Learn from your customers, and remember what they tell your firm. Most firms forget 90 percent of what customers tell them. If you can lower this percentage, you gain a remarkable competitive advantage. You'll know what each customer dislikes, and you will have an easier time removing these frustrations from their lives.

Eliminate practices that waste your customer's time, money or effort. A great way to start doing this is to look at interactions from the customer's perspective. The payback of such an analysis is often measured in days or weeks, because it invariably reveals flaws that are both substantial and easily fixed.

Simplify current practices and new ideas so they can be run better and cheaper. You're in business not only to please customers, but also to generate consistent profits. Most businesses have overly complex processes and lines of command that erode or eliminate profits while aggravating customers and employees alike. Make your business simpler, and you'll make it more profitable.

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Bruce Kasanoff (bruce@nowpossible.com) is the author of Making It Personal. Learn more about Less is More Marketing at www.whenlessismore.com