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When we think of marketing, we often think of Marketing's efforts to acquire customers. The world, however, is moving toward relationship-based business, including subscription services and subscription commerce—but also most other business.

Consider consumer packaged goods companies that used to have no direct relationship with customers, who bought in box stores. Many CPG companies are now using online and social mediums to build direct relationships with their customers.

In this world, customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. So how do the 7 Ps of marketing apply to customer retention marketing?

1. People are the most important. Retaining customers is about building relationships, and relationships are about people. Treat your customer as a person, and not a customer; start by hiring people who show they care about others.

Compare how you behave driving in rush-hour traffic with how you drive down your own street past your neighbors. When you know you will see people again, or if you want to see them again, you treat them better.

The whole company needs to care about customers and customer retention, and one executive must be responsible to ensure that's so—hence the rise of the chief customer officer.

2. Product is a very close second in importance to "People." If your product is off, you will have a difficult time with the rest of the Ps. However, if the product is on target, you will accomplish the rest of the Ps much more easily.

When designing your product or service for maximum customer retention, provide quick time to value, continued value over time, and high quality (those are what Apple does so well). Sometimes there is another P: Packaging. I include packaging as part of the product (or service), and the key to it is polish.

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image of Karl Wirth

Karl Wirth is the CEO and a co-founder of Evergage, a customer intelligence and marketing automation solution that enables online businesses to understand each customer and respond in real time.

Twitter: @wirthkarl

LinkedIn: Karl Wirth