Screw hand-wavy strategies, focus on being sticky

Seems like everyone’s talking about innovation these days — isn’t it pretty much a requirement for doing anything that people are willing to pay for? Ditto that for quality, teamwork and strategy. Well, I guess it’s to be expected: it’s much easier to talk about hand-wavy things than to actually get into the bowels of the business and actually measure the stuff that matters so you can actually make educated decisions.Call it what you want: customer loyalty, customer retention or anything else under the sun. Stickiness transforms the average business from a transaction-based model to a more lasting, mutually beneficial one in which companies improve their own revenues and margins by maintaining a win-win relationship with the customer. It may sound like yet another hand-wavy strategy, but it’s really not — let’s run through a few tactical ideas:

  • You’ve probably got a website. So, why’s it so hard to subscribe to RSS feeds or newsletters? I may not be ready to buy anything today but sign me up for one of your lists and keep me updated with tips that are relevant to me. Do this right and it’ll be obvious that your product can solve my needs, I’ll buy it when I’m ready.
  • You probably sell a product. So, why don’t I hear from you after I’ve bought anything? If I’ve bought from you once, it’s reasonable to assume that I might be interested in buying from you again — talk to me! Stop being a product focused business and become a product-and-long-term-service business. Guarantee the benefits of your product to me over the long run and do stuff to help me get those benefits.
  • Your competitors probably sell something similar to you. So, go the extra mile and solve a particularproblem for me in a unique way. The Trunk Club sells clothes, just like most other clothiers, but they actually do most of the work for me.

Look, we’re not talking about rocket science here — in fact, you’ve probably heard tons of advice on how to build your business. The problem is that many entrepreneurs either do too much of the wrong thing or, worse, sit around as they figure out what to do next.

The key is to focus on doing something, anything, to actually build the business — for most people, improving the stickiness is the most effective place to focus your efforts.