Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers To Gain New Ones

To meet today’s pressure to acquire new customers, many companies pull out all the stops in order to woo a stranger to sample their wares. But it’s usually at the expense of their existing customers—the lifeblood of profits--who are far too important to ignore. The time has come to flip yesterday’s outdated marketing funnel. To grow your business and shrink your spending, the trick is to shift your focus from acquiring new customers to starting with your current customers. What once was the end is now the means. Retention has become the new acquisition.

In Flip the Funnel, Jaffe explains how to reprioritize your loyal customers with common sense but far too often overlooked wisdom including:

  • Recognize and reward customers who recommend you to others
  • Shift from paid advertising to ongoing conversations with customers in the form of clubs, forums, groups, and proactive dialog through social media
  • Consistently provide customer experiences that spur glowing word-of-mouth
  • "Fire" chronic complainers and other potentially destructive customers
  • Convert customer evangelists into effective salespeople
  • Use the latest customer service technology only if it enhances, not masks, your brand’s human touch (unlike the trend in 24-hour auto-responders!)
  • Do anything to avoid your best customers from feeling taken for granted.

With his trademark contrarian style, Jaffe cites real-life examples of companies that have prospered from continually catering to their true believers: Zappos, which transformed buying shoes into a WOW experience that sparked runaway word-of-mouth; Panasonic, which humanized their brand by creating a "Living in High Definition" community to educate and empower customers with tips, tools, stories and ideas.; Nike, which flipped the funnel with their Human Race and Nike+ initiatives that give customers a sense of belonging.

Acknowledge your customers, engage them in conversation and activate them so they can amplify positive buzz for your company more effectively and less expensively than any of your best salespeople could do. If you do, you’ll not just get short term results. You’ll create a new customer-centric ecosystem that is self-sustaining and incredibly valuable.