Somewhere in my parents’ attic are boxes full of baseball cards. They sit there and they collect dust. Once upon a time, I put them behind hard plastic cases, shoved them in binders, and shielded them from sunlight, dust and fingerprints. In another box lie comic books, pressed against cardboard backings in carefully sealed plastic bags; some never even read. In my dark closet sit bottles of wine, that I look at and rotate, but never think of drinking.
These things all sit there because, by not interacting with them, I have been led to believe they will appreciate in value.
Your customers are not baseball cards
Somewhere in your organization are collections of your customers. They’re pressed into database tables like baseball cards. Like unread comic books, their stories remain untold. You don’t interact with them, because if you did; someone is afraid you might bend the corners or put a crease on the page.
By keeping them safe, perfect, untouched… you’ve been led to believe that they will remain valuable to you.
People don’t like being in collections
Give this a try. The next time you interact with a customer (or even a friend), ask them for their email address or phone number. Tell them “I’m going to add you to my marketing database, so I can extract value from this relationship when the time is right for me.”
That bristling sound you hear will be all of the proof that you need. People are not baseball cards. Confirmed.
Try bending the corners
Here’s an A/B test to run, and I hope someone gives it a shot.
Segment your database in half. Start a dialogue with half, via email, for example. Send them all a note asking what’s new in their jobs, what’s changed since you last saw each other, what challenges they’re facing these days. Ask them how you can help. Tell them you’re open to their suggestions as to how you can help them win.
Leave the other half to “collect value”, safely protected in their cozy database cells, and only bother them when you’re ready to cash them in.
Track the engagement of the two groups over time. Which group opens your emails? Which group engages with your offers? Which group buys more stuff? Recommends you to their friends? Who has the largest lifetime value?
As a customer, which group would you rather be in?
Photo Credit: Adam Glasgow