customer journey

Design for the Most Valuable Customer

Design for the Most Valuable Customer 650 650 Kim Donlan


Customer engagement is a vital part of every conversation across an enterprise. It involves everything and every action the customer encounters — and is based on a deep emotional connection. A connection that intrigues, assures, entices, satisfies and soothes the customer so that they never look at the competition.

Customer engagement can be defined differently within an organization and even within a single department. When launching a new product or service, how do you determine what connection and which series of actions are the most valuable? Do you have a plan for the most profitable customers to engage with your organization?  

81% of marketers admit customer engagement is the top priority yet only 28% have a plan*

There is a better approach. Just remember these three key points:

  • Discuss engagement early and often
  • Advocate for customer centricity at all costs
  • Remember that a single path is not a journey — it’s a trap

Step 1: Discuss engagement early and often

Your product launch may require a new website, an email blast, a lead generation campaign — all of which must make and reinforce an emotional connection. Continuous discussion of exactly what that emotional connection is should include near- and far-reaching teams to expose opportunities. Empowering others to own the emotional connection improves engagement across every touchpoint.

Step 2: Be customer-centric at all costs

It is natural to think from a company view — especially with the pressure to outperform KPIs. When you look outside in, you see the longer view — the opportunity for customers to have conversations on multiple paths to the same destination. It takes discipline to home in on what Peter Fader calls “the most valuable customers.” Connecting with the most valuable customers requires creating positive online and in-person conversations some of which will lead to a lift in the KPIs while others will be measured by lifetime engagement value.

Step 3: Remember that a single path is not a journey — it’s a trap

If you only offer a single path, you run the risk of alienating customers instead of enticing them. The customer might feel led into an alley with the requisite marching band parading behind. Without choices, customers may protest in small or big ways like providing dirty data or just not trusting the emotional connection.

Offer customers minor content detours to support their decision-making. This goes a long way in ensuring the customer feels empowered by your messaging and connected emotionally. More importantly, your customers will reciprocate by willingly providing accurate contact information. The bonus is that you will have embedded a mini A/B study for added insight into content and behavior.

Customer engagement requires a holistic approach — a precise solution that matches your culture, company, and competitive advantage. It involves everything and every point the customer encounters — and is based on a deep emotional connection. A connection that intrigues, assures, entices, satisfies and soothes the customers so that they never look at the competition.

*According to a recent report by B2B Marketing and The Telemarketing Company



Rebranding: Are you ready to innovate?

Rebranding: Are you ready to innovate? 650 650 Kim Donlan

In celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Week, I wanted to share our viewpoint on creativity and innovation in the rebranding processes. When an organization needs to rebrand, it means that somewhere along the way, it got stuck. In rebranding, size really doesn’t matter. It can be necessary for a two-person startup, industry leaders and everything in between. The process is the same — a series of guided exercises played out in workshop meant to get to the core of what a brand really is.

At the most fundamental level, rebranding is a concerted effort to innovate. It means the organization has realized it must do something in a new way. That is a vulnerable place to be. A company ready to rebrand needs to think carefully about how ready they are to re-invent themselves. Innovation requires an honest look at what is to clearly see what can be. It is not easy. It is not fun.

So how do you know you are ready to innovate through the rebranding process?

Do Whatever It Takes. Often, organizations have spent a great deal of time fixing what is broken. This is a group of smart people, but despite their best efforts, something still isn’t working. All the effort and brainpower can only mean that something is fundamentally wrong. Innovation by definition means the organization MUST do something in a new way. The old way must be so painful, you are willing to do whatever it takes to change it.

Retrace Your Path. Understand where the organization got off-track. Was it the early customers who controlled the roadmap? The failure to make decisions based on accurate data? Or just moving in too many directions so that true progress couldn’t happen? As part of innovation, it is important to acknowledge and learn from what didn’t work. And then let it go. To truly innovate, you need to abandon the woulda, coulda, shoulda mentality to think freely about what might the truer path.

Find the Real Story. Willingly abandon your story and perspective to see the impact of your product, service or idea. Clearly and painstakingly look at what the early customers and friendly advisors were really saying. This is the time to look at the nuances and messages buried in what people were saying. It is an exercise in listening with the intent of finding the common emotional connection that you can fulfill.

Seek the Small Change. Innovation isn’t about making a huge change. It comes from making a new connection that potentially can have a big impact. It is often small and previously overlooked. It can be disguised as anything — a tweak to the positioning, a slightly different customer experience, razor focus on a thing you do better than anyone else, a new onboarding process, a refined value proposition or discovering the best customer was the person next to the guy you were selling to.

Innovation is not something that happens naturally within organizations. It is a mindset backed by the willingness to go through a process that will make room for it. Creativity and innovation are a result of hard work. It is not always easy, but it always yields great results.

Image source: Creative Commons