One of the funniest lines from the 1962 classic comedy recording Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America occurs when Columbus claims to have discovered the New World:
Native: What you mean, you discover us? We discover you.
Columbus: You discovered us?
Native: Certainly. We discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.
In the world of Marketing and customer acquisition, I like to think that it’s the customer that has acquired you, not the other way around. This isn’t merely a whimsical notion, but a view that I believe reflects the mindset of your prospective customers.
I think there’s a general consensus that part of a marketer’s job is to somehow convince their prospects that they need your product and therefore should buy it. It’s simple common sense, isn’t it? Effective marketing, be it inbound or outbound, must have an element of persuasion.
I suggest that persuasion has little to do with good marketing. Moreover, I maintain that trying to convince your prospect of anything is a mistake. Their mind is already made up. Marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout were one of the first to make successful use of this unconventional wisdom. They called it “The Law of the Mind.” In their view, the mind takes precedence over the marketplace. According to them, “You can’t change a mind once it’s made up.”
Ries and Trout also established the maxim, “The Law of Perception.” Many people believe that the best product always prevails. Not so, according to Ries and Trout. “There are no best products,” they say. “All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect.”
How does this align with customer acquisition? you might be asking. Look at it his way: A prospect already has some kind of idea of what they need and want. It’s a waste of time and resources to try and change that. Your job as a marketer is twofold: Find those prospects whose needs and wants best match what your product delivers; Present your product, emphasizing that it exactly fits those needs and wants. And if there’s any persuasion involved it’s only to point out what a perfect fit your product truly is.
As Al Ries and Jack Trout might point out, customer acquisition is a matter of perception. It’s all how you view your newly acquired customer. You haven’t acquired them, they’ve acquired you.