Custom Acquisition Strategies: Change is in the Wind

Brands are built by exposing themselves to audiences over and over again. Audiences then learn to “love” the brand, or not.[1]

But lately, brands – all brands — are being disrupted by people’s changing tastes, new brand proliferation, and how exposure of the brand itself takes place. The result is growth opportunities become clogged, and customer acquisition ( and retention) costs increase significantly.

The central question for your brand becomes: “how do you get new people to hear about your brand and buy into it?”

Most marketers will answer you have to spend money to make money, but spending it on gaining market share, social or even paid media is no longer part of that equation. Audiences have splintered and are everywhere, and frankly, no amount of money can take you “everywhere.”

Besides, your brand may seem strong and resilient, but your management is well aware that the “loyalty” to that brand is softening. Eveyone’s budget is under siege, and despite fantastic tails of ROI, there were 591 corporate bankruptcies in 2023, one of the highest bankruptcy totals since 2011.[2]

New brands especially find it difficult to gain a foothold with all the shouting going on, but continually disrupt established ones despite this difficulty.

So what’s a marketer to do?

First, realize you’re not in the product business anymore – you’re in the WOW business. Products – probably all products – are now commodities. Therefore, it is essential to “stand out” – what the advertising people call the WOW factor. WOW is NOT entertainment. WOW is fact-based storytelling that like a novel, holds the target’s interest.[3] It is, in fact, what used to be called and still is called DIFFERENTIATION.

WOW exists AROUND the product, but it is not the product itself; it is the “feeling” that the product produces. The iphone is a phone, but what it DOES gives it the WOW factor. A refrigerator keeps things cold, but one that notifies you when ice is short creates the WOW.

I studied prepositions as an English major: in, around, through, by, near and so on. Your WOW factor resides in the preposition, not the noun.

WOW factors lead to those Lovemarks. And while we can USE technology to do WOW, depending just on technology for WOW isn’t going to cut it.[4]

So, what is the one tactic most used in customer acquisition and retention today to achieve WOW?

Email campaigns. There are many articles referenced on this tactic, but the key to understanding email campaigns is understanding saturation: you can turn people off if you use it too often, or if your content doesn’t have the WOW. When done right, however, it is an affordable way to “reaching” customers on a regular basis. This tactic includes “newsletters” sent through email, which are another form WOW.

One study quoted the following in terms of newsletter “open” rate. “During our recent study, it was revealed that up to 2% of all emails are opened within five minutes. The number then doubles within the first 15 minutes, and again after 30 minutes and 60 minutes. Then it continues to gradually rise reaching a 65% open rate within the first 12 hours. That figure then reaches 88% within the first 24 hours.[5]

This is highly doubtful considering an estimated 347.3 billion emails are sent each day around the globe. People read what interests them, and what interests them is the WOW factor which comes across in the headline of the subject line, or the individual stories within the newsletter – plus the time they have available to them to spend looking on that content.

But it shouldn’t discourage the marketer from sending out these items. As the saying goes, fish where the fish are.

Rethinking Your WOW Strategy

After years of distributor dominance in B2B, the manufacturer is now emerging as the central player in WOW. Distributors won’t bleed for the brand, and it is up to the manufacturer to differentiate his brand in the target audience.

Opening new relationships with end users has to become a top consideration for a manufacturer today, and that means increasing investment in the WOW.

Great visuals and copywriting tell the story of the brand better. That means increasing and improving sampling to help break through the hurdles in purchasing.

For example, putting your product into an architect’s firm itself is a way for the architect to experience WOW. Or, offering to do a mean-time-between failure audit at a facility for your products opens up new doors for you with that end user.

In one case, a client saw a facility manager pulling one specific spec sheet from their website over one weekend (the client uses IP reverse lookup). That following week (after investigation using LinkedIn to find the facility manager and learn about the company more), the client called and offered a mean-time between failure study at no charge to the end user. The product? The exist device that opens a glass door when it’s pushed. Obviously, the facility person needed a part.

Our client’s offer was the WOW: do a mean-time-between failure study on all the components that were on all the doors of the company. The end user couldn’t resist, and when the client was finished with the study, the end user asked why our client didn’t “study” all of the exit devices on the glass doors of the facility.

Our client explained he could only do the proper calculations based on their product, not the competitors. The end user, impressed by the study, asked our client to switch out all of the exit devices of the competitor to our client’s “to get them up to speed and equal.”

This account became a key account for our client, all because of the mean-time-between-failure study becoming the WOW factor.

You see, WOW doesn’t me graphics all the time, or animation, or video. WOW is something that knocks the prospect over with knowledge.

Brands must  of course strike a balance between the higher margins that selling DTC(direct to customer) offers, and the exposure and halo effects of distribution. However, for customer acquisition and retention, nothing beats the WOW.


[1] KEVIN ROBERTS, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN at Saatchi & Saatchi wrote “Loyalty Beyond Reason,” an excellent paper that’s worth quoting here: “Lovemarks[a term his agency coined about branding] recognizes that the heart rules the head in decision-making. Moreover, when a deep emotional connection is cultivated, anything, anywhere can win loyalty that protects against preference attacks from competitors touting new features, deals and designs. How to recognize a Lovemark? Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away, and people will protest.” That simple definition holds true today, except more and more, customers’ loyalty seems to fade as quickly as it is gained, which is the core problem about customer acquisition and retention.

[2] According to S&P Global Intelligence. The “fantastic” ROI being thrown around reads usually like this: “According to multiple studies, the average ROI for email marketing comes out to be anywhere between $36 to $40 for every dollar spent.” If only that were true!

[3] 91% of social media users access it through mobile devices, which can lead to a shorter attention span.

A study conducted by Microsoft found that the average human attention span has decreased by 4 seconds since 2000, and social media is one of the primary drivers of this trend. The average human attention span is 8.25 seconds. Attention spans can range from 2 seconds to over 20 minutes according to Judah Schiller, healthcare professional who is dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults with autism writing in the Treetop ABA Therapy. But the real question is: who controls attention span? Content NEVER controls it; the person viewing the content controls it. People make things interesting, or not. Wouldn’t you agree?

[4] Privacy-related changes made to Apple’s iPhone operating system in 2021 are estimated to have cost brands billions in lost revenue, with an average 30 percent decline in conversion on Facebook and Instagram according to sources.

[5] MarketingPlatform produced this statistic, which was founded in 2011 and in 2021, we became part of LINK Mobility Group.

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