More and more companies these days have shifted to a customer-centric organizational model to increase sales and customer retention. This means an increased focus on the customer and what they want or need throughout the buyer’s journey.
Customer behavior analysis has been the gold standard for lead generation and conversion in the past year. The goal with customer behavior analysis is to break customers into segments, understand their behaviors, and then generate automated recommendations to enforce predictable growth.
But what if there was a way to be even more customer-centric?
The customer cultivation approach is designed to promote long-term customer relationships to establish a core customer base. This approach centers on the understanding that no solution is ever truly one-size-fits-all. The value of a product under this model is determined by the customers and therefore may change depending on the customer’s needs and desires.
Companies who have based their customer approach on customer cultivation understand that each customer may see a unique value in their product or service. Understanding this value is the first step to understanding who will identify most with that value. These are your core customers. Customer cultivation emphasizes focusing on relationships with your core customer base to save you time and money.
In order to cultivate that relationship, you must first attract your core customers, then cultivate a relationship with them, and finally retain core customers so that they essentially advertise for you.
There are a million articles out there about how to attract customers. But what about attracting the right customers? You can spend time and money on attracting anyone under the sun, but that time and money would be wasted if those potential customers don’t convert.
Using the customer cultivation method, customers are attracted who are most likely not only to convert but also to advertise for you. Using the concept of a core customer, businesses find out which customers find the most value in their product and focus on attracting them.
In order to attract these customers, it is important to focus your marketing strategies on the places this customer base is most likely to be spending time anyways. For example, if you are advertising to college students, grab a booth at college events or advertise on popular social media channels. If your core customers are young professionals, you might sponsor a networking event or advertise on LinkedIn. Meet your customer where they’re at, to attract them in the most organic way possible.
Attracting a core customer rather than just any customer will give you more success in the cultivation step.
This is the core of customer cultivation. We have all heard about engagement and loyalty, but cultivation takes this a step further. Cultivating means guiding your customers from initial purchase to being a core customer. This is how you create your core customer base.
Unlike other approaches where all customers are targeted for engagement, customer cultivation stresses focusing efforts on those customers most likely to identify on a deeper level with your company’s value. These are the customers that won’t just purchase once or twice, but will keep coming back time after time.
The cultivation step involves developing that deep, emotional connection with your customers. It involves checking in with them throughout the product’s lifecycle. It involves showing that you still care about them even without another sale. Because ultimately this will lead to another sale - whether from them or others in their network.
This step in the customer cultivation process will take the longest. Not only is it difficult to find out what makes your core customers tick, but it’s also hard to adjust to the ever-changing value of your product. Every product’s value will change for a customer as the customer changes. Take a phone, for example. It started out as a way to communicate, but now it is our calendar, our entertainment, and our source of information.
Cultivating customers into core customers will set you up for optimal success in the next step: retaining core customers.
No one wants to feel like a number. This is the most important thing to remember when trying to retain customers using the customer cultivation approach.
The customer cultivation approach focuses on increasing sales through retention. If a customer feels connected with the company throughout the product life cycle, they are more likely to return to purchase again as well as recommend this company to others in the social or professional circles.
Companies can develop this connection by taking a consultative rather than sales-based approach. This might include an FAQ page that can solve a customer’s solution with a simple search; automated messaging based on customer behaviors; or communication via social media.
Don’t underestimate the power of connecting on social media. Customers love to feel like a company is full of real people who are listening to them. If someone in your core customer base responds to or shares your social media post, make sure they feel appreciated for connecting with your company. Feeling appreciated could come from a simple thank you or your company can include a gift, reward, or digital badge to go that extra mile.
Find out what your core customers really value. Always offering discounts or company-specific rewards may convince them that you still only care about a sale. Sometimes offering to feature them as a case study, or to share their posts on social media, means much more.
The days of gimmicks and hard sales pushes are coming to a close. Customers don’t want the “latest and greatest” just because an advertisement says so. In a world of social media, customers want to know what products or services their friends, coworkers, or favorite icons are using. The best marketing strategies are therefore going to be ones focused on personal connection. True, honest connection. Customer cultivation is one way your company can do just that in a customer-centric organization.
Ready to start cultivating? Visit ourWhy Cetrix?page or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!