What if your funnel shepherded a new customer through experiences that were designed to build a solid and lasting bond with your company, encourage repeat business, and create an evangelist for your product or service?
You'd see exponential business growth, that's what.
"From the few come the many; that's the mantra of the flipped funnel," says Joseph Jaffe, author ofFlip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones. Rather than concentrating resources on countless "maybe" prospects and hoping that a certain percentage turn into customers, Jaffe argues that companies need to pour those resources into their existing customers. Organizations that do it well wind up with "runaway word-of-mouth" and an explosion in the customer base.
So how do you flip your funnel? You start with the pinnacle of your previous journey - the customer - and you move him or her through a four-piece funnel designed to create a lifelong enthusiast of your company:
Acknowledgement. When was the last time you thanked your customers? Not just the standard thank-you when the contract is signed, but a genuine thank-you for their business, loyalty, or referral? "Acknowledgement bridges the chasm between everything that happens when we convince someone to buy something from us and what happens next," says Jaffe. Acknowledgement can be a spoken or written thank-you, a courtesy check-in from a sales rep or manager to make sure the purchase is performing properly (this call should never be about selling), a gift, enrollment in a club or community with status, a reward at the next point of purchase, and so on.
Dialogue. Acknowledgement establishes a connection; dialogue maintains it. More than ever, such interactions are happening online. Social networks, blogs, and Webinars "represent an orgy of activity and sentiment, with endless possibilities for dialogue," says Jaffe. Establish communities or hubs where people can connect with each other, implement a "robust listening strategy" to customer conversations as they happen, and have a strategy to contribute to ongoing conversations.
Incentivization. What are you doing to reward the people who repeatedly come back to buy from you? "Figuring out ways to recognize and reward our customers is about making sure we don't look a gift horse in the mouth, but rather giving that gift horse a big, fat smooch on the lips," says Jaffe.
Activation. This is about "flipping the switch of community or social networking," says Jaffe. You're seeking to formalize a structure around which all customers and employees are connected. Consider Nike: The company's Run London, Human Race, and Nike+ initiatives get customers out running as part of a global community. That's activation. "Activation represents a new marketing system in which organizational process supports a new customer-centric ecosystem - one that is powered by loyalty, word-of-mouth and, most important, sales," says Jaffe.
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