On my way back from the Cannes Advertising Festival a few weeks ago a couple of work buddies and I decided to take a break and take advantage of our European travel to stop in London for a day at Wimbledon. I’m not a giant tennis fan, but I love any opportunity to experience a remarkable event. So it was a no-brainer to cross the channel and splurge on a day at Court 1 in this historic facility. But my “Marketing with Meaning” hat never comes off, dear readers. While enjoying the matches and sipping my new favorite summer drink, Pimm’s, I noticed something that sparked this blog post…
In the program for the event I noticed a full-page ad for HSBC—captured by my iPhone in the photo above. As you can see, HSBC offered free strawberries and cream for its cardholders at the matches. It struck me as a terrific example of Marketing with Meaning, and perhaps a new trend that other brands are picking up on.
Another great example of a brand that is providing added value for its loyal customers is Lexus. I recently had a chance to prepare a presentation for a group of Lexus dealers, and through the process of researching their work discovered how many of these independent businesses are similarly doing special things for their owners. For example, in several major cities around the U.S. local Lexus dealers have arranged for free, private parking for its car owners. You can find this benefit at the BankAtlantic Center in Tampa, at the Texas Rangers ballpark and AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, and at the U.S. Open tennis championship.
All too often in banking, automotive, or other businesses, current customers get little care and feeding once the bank account is open or the car drives off the lot. In these and many other industries (e.g., phone service, credit cards, cable TV) a vast majority of marketing dollars are put against acquiring new customers. Marketing managers become completely focused on cost-per-acquisition and churn rate, but rarely think about how the easiest sell is the one they’ve already made.
There is tremendous opportunity for brands to win by moving more of their marketing budgets to the benefit of current, loyal customers. Broadly speaking, there are two main benefits of this approach. First, there is almost always an opportunity to sell more products and services to those who are already buying from you. Car makers can convince you to put another one of their vehicles in the garage or upgrade to a new model faster. Banks have an opportunity to cross-sell countless other financial services.
But the second, often-ignored benefit of marketing to your current customers is that it can be a way to impress and win over new prospects. This ad for HSBC naturally advises current cardholders of a special treat, but in doing so it also shows all non-HSBC customers how well this bank treats its own. Similarly, Lexus understands that free, premium parking means that friends will want to ride in the Lexus owner’s car and thus get a free sample of the riding and service experience. And in both examples, the brand has chosen special, high-end events where the prized, highest-income customers attend.
How might you use marketing dollars to benefit your best customers while attracting prized prospects to your side? Or if you are already providing valuable services to current customers, how might you better show prospects what they are missing?