Be Willing to Spend a Little More to WOW a Potential Customer

Posted on by in Business, Customer Service, Design, Marketing, Remarkability

While remarkability tends to decrease the cost of customer acquisition (i.e. as more people remark to others about your products and services, you pay less per new customer because word of mouth doesn’t cost you directly). However, what often drives remarkability is your willingness to spend a little more money on the new customers you do actually attract. For example . . .

Several years ago, when I used to pastor a large church, I needed to hire an architect to design our first building. After doing our research, we brought in two national church architectural firms that were used to designing and building large church buildings and one local firm that had a great reputation for building large public buildings, including concert halls, but hadn’t designed a church (we liked to think differently so we thought that hiring a non-church building architect might allow us to create a church building that would be, well, remarkable!)

The two national firms both sent us similar packages, packages you’d expect an architectural firm to send (with letters and references, basic outlines and images of projects they’d done etc either in a folder or comb binding). Neither was bad. In fact, they were good. But they were predictable (which means they were ordinary).

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Then we received the package from the local firm, David Schwarz. David’s package wasn’t ordinary at all. In fact, it was a 272 page hardbound book,weighing in at a hefty  4.2 pounds. And it was gorgeous. The photos in in are simply stunning. As soon as I received it, I walked around my office and showed everyone ("Can you believe this?"). Still to this day, I can’t think of any prospective company that’s sent me anything as stunningly beautiful as that book. In fact, while the other architectural firms packages are long gone, this book still sits on my shelves.

Even though it’s been four years since I first opened that book, I can still see my favorite image in my mind’s eye.

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Now, think about this. The architectural fees on this project were projected to be north of $1M. Realizing that, don’t you think every architectural firm would want to WOW a potential client with more than a typical report oriented package? Absolutely. But how many do? Not many.

And this is true for most businesses. The typical thought process, usually driven by account types (and yes, I was an accounting major at UW-Madison) is to spend the least amount possible on acquiring a new customer. But spending the least, isn’t always the wisest choice.

As soon as you or I consider the lifetime value of a customer, plus all of the other people they’ll tell about our products and services (provided we actually do WOW them), there’s no question that it’s worth spending a little more to acquire and retain a customer.

So, in your business, what would WOW a potential customer? What can you give them or send them that would take their breath away? Or what might cause them to immediately tell others, "You won’t believe what XYZ company sent me today?" Ordinary companies benchmark their competitors and do something similar. But remarkable companies do something different. They look at what everyone else is doing and say, "We can do better than that!"

Note: While we originally selected David Schwarz, we came to realize that choosing an architectural firm that specialized in large church facilities was a better choice for us so we ended up choosing Beck out of Dallas and were thoroughly happy with them. So don’t read anything into my earlier comments other than that David’s firm’s 272 page, 4.2 pound book was a WOW I’ve never forgotten. I think highly of both firms and would recommend either firm to anyone considering an architect. At the end of the day, selecting the right architectural firm is about fit–and not just the talent fit for a specific type of project but also the relational fit as well, which can’t be determined from a book or a report. That kind of fit is only discovered face-to-face, when you start working together. And in an architectural project, that fit really does matter as you’re probably going to be spending a whole lot of time together :-)

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3 Responses to “Be Willing to Spend a Little More to WOW a Potential Customer”

  1. Rami Kantari 7 May 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Impressive article on customer service

  2. Ben 3 May 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    Can someone explain the mega-church concept to me because I don’t get it?!
    Why wouldn’t you just get everyone together in a barn and give the $1M to those in need?
    WWJD?

  3. Bruce Johnson 3 May 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Ben,
    As a marketer you should get this one. Where do most people shop? Safeway or the local grocer? Home Depot or Joe’s lumber? Walmart or Susie’s apparel?
    Most people look at the mega-church issue completely wrong. They look at it from the church perspective, not the customer/attendee perspective. Large churches don’t compel people to attend. People choose to attend. If people didn’t like the services offered in large churches they wouldn’t show up. But they do, because, in general, the services offered deliver better than at small churches.
    Note: This is not a slam on small churches. It’s just an observation. In our current culture (2009, USA), massive numbers of people prefer meeting in larger churches. They willingly choose to drive by smaller churches to attend larger churches.
    And often, for understandable reasons. For example, when I used to pastor a large church (pre-June 2005), our middle school group regularly averaged 110-140 kids per week. If you had a middle school child and the small church down the street from you with 150 people had 5 middle school kids who had a volunteer teacher in a small classroom using a manual while the large church a little further down the road had a multi-varied multi-media program with a full-time staff person and 125 kids meeting each week, where would you take your child?
    Note: this doesn’t mean that everyone should choose a megachurch. We need all kinds of churches for all kinds of people. But for a lot of people, a large church offers size and scale that small churches just can’t replicate.
    Finally, the money issue is irrelevant to the conversation. It is not less expensive to build seven smaller churches of 300 than one church of 2,000. It’s actually cheaper.
    Oh, and as for the barn question, I don’t know anyone around our community who would prefer meeting in a barn and you certainly can’t do so for $1M in Montgomery County.
    But the more important thing to think about this issue is what you, as a marketer should know. The easiest sale is to find out what people want . . . and then give it to them. Megachurches wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want them. However telling someone that they ought to want small churches is just foolish. It’s like breaking every rule you learned in marketing 101.
    Hope that helps!
    Bruce


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