January 30, 2021

During Titans Mastermind meetings, like the one this past week, I look for themes that flow through multiple discussions, speaker presentations and hot seats.  

This time it was an oldie but a goodie:

It’s easier to keep a customer than to get a new one. 

And there was also the kissing cousin:

Promote to cold traffic with your second order in mind. 

These permeate everything we do in direct response because your existing customers–with their second orders and beyond–are where the biggest profits (and recurring profits) reside in any business. 

I know…I’m not telling you anything you don’t know…you’ve heard it many times before…but this tenet never gets old. 

And the Titans agreed so by repeating it, I am in good company. 

At the meeting we learned specifically that it is paramount to… 

…how Russell Brunson does “challenges” and funnels…

…how Robert Skrob looks at subscription and membership models always from the retention and lifetime value angle first (see the P.S.)…and…

…how Ryan Deiss plots the customer’s journey as priority number one to any promotion or business (that is, before any specific tactics are applied).

The notion of promoting from “within” (i.e. house list, existing customers) to get everything you can out of all you’ve got (nod to Jay Abraham)–above all else–came up again and again during the January Titans meeting.

And not just with Russell, Robert and Ryan.

It came up in almost every conversation and topic in some form including:

  • Direct Response Television
  • Direct Mail (you know, that “new medium”)
  • Email marketing 
  • And yes, even Clubhouse

Simply put, a greater focus on marketing to who you’ve got already in your grasp–before rushing to the new and shiny on the outside–is a perpetual hot trend (my new oxymoron).

To support this more fully, I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter 8 of Overdeliver.

It stems from my adventures staying late at the office, fielding calls from angry customers, leading to a much deeper understanding of  the audience I already had (even if they were angry!) instead of rushing out to find a new audience, angry or not.

My theory is that if you can over deliver and transform an existing customer’s bad experience into something positive, by making it a game that you must win, which will turn them into loyal fans (and customers) for life.  And there’s nothing better than that.

The lessons you can learn about human behavior by going deep with one unhappy customer can teach you lessons you can apply to multiple customers with the same (or similar) issues.

Also: Never assume you are making only one mistake in the eyes of each angry customer; rather, assume that you are making many mistakes all the time and that learning what it will take to save each customer is research you can take to the bank.

As Claude Hopkins said in terms of attracting new customers:

“We cannot go after thousands of men until we learn how to win one.”

This applies to all customers, including those we have gone after and won already…to which I like to say (with deference to Professor Hopkins):

We cannot understand why thousands of customers stay with us until we learn why ONE would consider leaving us.

No problem, issue, or complaint is too small. All complaints are relevant, even if you think the customer is being unreasonable or trying to take advantage of you.

And there’s always an opportunity to learn about your audience and spot the holes in your process that are leaving you exposed.

What Dan Kennedy calls “the leaky bucket.”

And…nothing is below your pay grade to investigate –no matter what level you are at in the company—whether you are the CEO or the mailroom clerk or anywhere in-between.

One of my self-appointed tasks when I worked at Boardroom was to stay late at the office to answer the phone, not as a receptionist, but as an investigative reporter.

The only people who called after 8:00 p.m. were angry customers, and I heard every complaint under the sun, the standard ones being missing issues of a newsletter or irritation that a book had not arrived yet.

However, there was one person whose dog ate pages 17 and 18 of the special bonus that contained the most important secret regarding the treatment of their type 2 diabetes which we teased in the sales letter.

And I recall a sad story about the postman who left a much-anticipated book in the snow.

Or…how could I expect a book buyer to find the answer to a bullet point from the sales letter when we told them it was on page 127 and it was actually on page 145?

On that last one: Our typo…our bad…and we treated it like we made the worst mistake ever.

Everything our customer service folks hear needs to be heard and then documented and eventually shared with everyone on our marketing teams. Whether it’s the details or simply a dashboard version, every piece of data you hear from your existing audience is data worthy of inspection.

Even things that are beyond your control. Listening and interacting with your customers will give you far deeper insights than any spreadsheet or report on the makeup of your database.

This is one of the many ways we can practice “marketing by walking around.”

In this case, more specifically, it’s “marketing by listening directly to your customers,” or “marketing by talking more to your customers” or even, “marketing by eavesdropping on your customers” (e.g. in forums online)—but only in the most ethical way and always with the goal to become more valuable to them.

As an owner or CEO of your company, there are so many things that are not in your direct line of vision. Yes, you should read reports from customer service and monitor complaints regularly, but there is nothing like talking to someone who gave you their money (and their trust) at the moment of truth when they might want you to give them their money back.

Issues that look like minutia on the customer service side can end up having big implications for how you make decisions in the future.

And remember, they are never minutia to the customer.

I learned all of this by picking up the phone after hours.

That experience led me to making it mandatory for marketing personnel to sit in on customer service calls on a regular basis. The valuable firsthand lessons you learn by paying attention to the bad news (which you will hate hearing at the time) will very often lead to making positive changes in your business.

One obvious thing I learned through my experience taking calls late at night was that what starts as something confrontational can quickly be diffused through generosity of speech and spirit (i.e., not arguing but just listening and acknowledging their position).

This can be followed up with giving away bonuses and unexpected extras as a thank-you for “bringing the issue to your attention.”

We know that a generosity mindset must be part of any front-end marketing (e.g. bonuses and premiums)…but many forget that it is that same mindset being even more important and prevalent on the back-end.

The mindset to create more premiums and bonuses in our acquisition packages encouraged us to give as much as possible later on if there was any dissatisfaction.

Simply put, over deliver as much (or more) on the back end as the front end.

Whenever I picked up the phone and heard an angry customer, I was ready to play the game that every direct marketer must master: To give the customer more than they would ever expect.

It’s an opportunity for you to discover the unanswered questions, to see their sometimes unexpected perspectives, and to shine a light on the unmet fears and desires of your audience.

The key then is to react quickly and to just keep saying yes until the customer is satisfied.

This is also how you learn what holes need to be plugged for all your customers, some of whom are too timid to make the call and are suffering in silence. Always assume that there are many more people with the same problem as the person who was bold enough to make an issue of it. There will always be a silent group waiting for a solution.

This exercise can give you insight you cannot easily get anywhere else and get a jump on a bigger problem.

And if your evening automated attendant doesn’t allow you to talk to real people, or if all your customer service is outsourced, make it a practice to spend some time listening in to what your customers are telling the folks you have entrusted to be on your front lines.

Or be bold and turn off the automated attendant and answer the phone yourself.

Remember the adage that marketers sell subscriptions, but editors sell renewals?

That applies way beyond subscription offers.

Another way to express this concept beyond subscription marketing:

Marketers sell the first order.

Product developers, content creators, and customer service and fulfillment people sell renewals.

If you don’t truly deliver the product or service you sell in the initial promotion, you can try reselling it later until you are blue in the face and you won’t get a renewal or repeat order.

And even if you deliver what you promised on the front end, remember that the relationship is just beginning. (See the P.S. for some best practices and solutions on this in particular).

Simply make sure the customer loves that first product, and always continue to offer the same quality when you sell them subsequent products. No rocket science there.

In between all that selling, however, the communication channels have to stay open all the time (on a two-way street) in order satisfy every customer who, for example, doesn’t get the bonus you promised or receives one of your amazing products three weeks later than you said you would deliver it or you can tell them about a special offer connected to the current offer.

Be proactive and reactive.

Reach out to delight them when they are least expecting it; and answer the phone when it rings.



P.S.  There is no one I know in the marketing world that understands retention, renewals and continuity–and their intimate relationship to lifetime value– than Robert Skrob.

Suffice it to say that I have vetted this expert for you…he’s a member of Titans Mastermind and spoke to the group at our last meeting on this critical topic.

He has helped hundreds of companies, big and small, get their arms around this area of their business, one that is not as “sexy” as marketing to cold traffic but more important for the long term health of your business.

If you have a desire to make money…and keep more of it…that is the “sexiest” marketing of all. ☺

I asked him if he could make available, to my online family, his new fundamentals workshop which he calls “Be Unleavable Retention.”

Robert’s focus on making someone “unleavable,” is to optimize the first 100 days’ experience of your new members or customers…with communication early and often being the single fastest way to increase your member retention and lifetime value.

But it needs to be the right kind of communication at the right time in the customer’s first 100 day journey.

Within this workshop, you can follow the same approach Robert has been following (and teaching)  the last seven years with his private clients to create a communication plan for the first 100 days after your new member joins.

You’ll learn:

  • How to increase (maximize) member value by knowing exactly when (and when not)  to offer upsells
  • How to improve engagement for retention—specifics on what kind of engagement and when to deploy
  • Creating a “referral machine” by fostering the strongest relationship possible to not only encourage referrals but to make it a built in benefit of membership

There’s a video that reveals all the details as well as the three keys to subscriber retention at Be Unleavable Retention Fundamentals Workshop.

This video and page are useful whether you buy the full program or not–so please take a look.

I asked Robert what kind of a deal could he give to you, one that is not available anywhere else…and we agreed that I would simply give my affiliate commission to YOU.

That is, anyone who uses this link to buy, gets exclusive access to the “Be Unleavable Retention Fundamentals Workshop” for 50% off.

It’s a bargain at full price and a no brainer with this discount.

And I don’t want to hide the price since it’s the best investment you can make to assess and then create an action plan to attack the most important area of your business.

It’s only $371.25 (half of $742.50).

I encourage you to check out the video with all the details here.

P.P.S. Beginning February 1st (through February 8th), the Do Good and  Make Money Super Summit is taking place on a computer near you…hopefully yours. 🙂

It’s a wonderful Summit with 75+ speakers sharing wisdom that I think is among the most valuable for marketers…on how to be benevolent, generous and caring while not apologizing for making money in the process.

It’s a Summit for nonprofit and for profit companies alike.

That’s why I consented to participate for the second year and wanted to tell you about it.

One of the beauties of this Summit is that you will hear speakers you don’t usually hear and many you have never heard of…with messages that will definitely inspire you. 

And there are some of the usual suspects as well who want to hang around in places like this Summit (including me). 

Click here for free access to all of the presentations you can listen to live. 

There is an offer to buy the recordings as well which is totally optional and  which I get nothing for if you buy…it’s a convenience for you.

I encourage you to register and catch whatever you can…you’ll be doing something good. 

Register here.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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