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lisbizstrategies: Will the real Oscar customers stand up?

by:  Lisbeth Calandrino

Volume 26/Number 21; March 4/11, 2013

Every business struggles with finding customers. When times are tough, the instinct is to go find new buyers. Unfortunately, the cost of acquiring new customers could be five times more than retaining current ones. In addition, the average business loses 10% of its customers yearly.

Getting new customers is important, but it’s obvious the gold is in the ones who know and love you. Despite this data, businesses have a tendency to forget their loyal customers. Could it be they don’t know who they are?

Businesses often believe every person walking through the door is a customer. They also subscribe to the theory if you throw enough of it out there, some of it will stick. The key is to target your advertising and social media marketing so it sticks to the right people.

Here’s what I consider dumb business thinking: The 2013 Academy Awards. The advertisers have been geared toward women with the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

Bad-boy Seth McFarlane’s job was to up the numbers and get more male views. He had a pretty big job—to increase demographics and please the audience. The problem is, each group has different conditions of satisfaction.

Let’s talk to the customers. How many guys that you know went home to watch the Oscars? I asked 10 on my block, and they all laughed when I inquired. They were the right demographics but didn’t sound like the types to be lured into watching the show.

So why bother with them at all? Why not give the major demographics more of what they wanted?

The Academy is struggling with age-old questions: Who are my customers? How do we bring them in? Knowing your key customers is critical. The real questions are: Who are the customers? How do I get more of them?

Is the show really about the viewers? Yes, we want them to buy the products, but the real products are the celebrities in the audience. We are just voyeurs, looking over their shoulders at what they’re wearing. Remember advertisers pay $1.6 million for a 30-second commercial.

I have some ideas for the Academy as well as dealers.

How about concentrating on couples? Look at all the Super Bowl parties and how advertisers push them. An Oscar party would bring out both men and women.

Host your own Academy Awards party in your store and give out Oscars to your best customers. Everyone gets dressed up; your store looks beautiful, and you serve some bubbly. Don’t forget to lay out the red carpet and give roses to the nominees.

The most important part is to give out awards to as many customers as possible. Give an Oscar for the best kitchen makeover, patio tile, original area rug, etc. How do you get people to come? Call 20 customers and tell them they’ve been nominated and you’re hosting an Oscar party for them. Suggest they bring friends, and now you’ve got a bunch of potential customers. Call the local press and have them cover your awards. You’ve even got fodder for your Facebook page.

How do you know what your customers want? Talk to them; their likes and dislikes change. Unfortunately, businesses often decide if they like it, it must be good for the customer. It goes back to the theory do unto others as you would have done unto you. But, if you want more customers, the business model is do unto others as they would like it done.

It doesn’t look like the Academy is thinking this way. It looks like it’s throwing it and hoping it will stick. That’s not a brilliant marketing plan.