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The Customer Experience – Your Best Marketing

Intro by Skip Cohen

We all have our heroes in this industry, photographers who we follow because of their skillset, passion, and ability to excite us with their creativity. Well, when it comes to service, marketing, and building a business, Shep Hyken is one of my heroes. He’s regularly sharing precious information on his blog, and having spent time with him; I know he walks the talk!

As everyone comes out of the pandemic and is focused on rebuilding business, I grabbed this post from his archives. It’s one of your best marketing tools – the customer experience!

Beverly and Tim Walden talk about the customer in every workshop they teach. They’re not selling portraits but the overall experience. That experience is about consistency, trust, integrity, and most important of all, FUN.

Remember “FUN?” It’s a word that long before the pandemic, for many of you, was lost under the pressure of running a business. You forgot to have fun. As the pressure of profitability, growth, brand awareness all moved into the spotlight, FUN got pushed to the back burner!

Take the time to do two things – first, look at what’s missing to get back to having fun in this business. Second, what do you need to do to make every customer an ambassador?

And one last ingredient to remember – you’ve got to have fun in order to love what you’re doing. In turn, you can’t create images that tug at people’s heartstrings if your own heart isn’t in it!

By Shep Hyken

What is marketing? A quick Google search on the word marketing reveals this from the American Marketing Association (And, they should know!):

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Great definition, but marketing has changed. Some say it’s about lead generation, creating demand, building relationships and engagement. I like that last word, engagement. Here’s a thought. Marketing appears to be about putting something out there, an advertisement, email campaign, promotion, etc., that will hopefully pull in business. Engagement is about interacting and attraction.

Both are part of the customer experience (CX). So, which customer experience would you rather create? One that is pushy and promotional or one that is about interacting and relationship building?

Websites are a great example to illustrate how marketing has changed. It used to be that a good website was really a brochure on the internet. It was static, with no movement and never changing. Some creativity, great color and maybe even a little animation made it stand out. If it was good, it might prompt a customer to pick up the phone or email an inquiry. But, today a good website is about offering up new content, sometimes daily (or even more often), in the form of articles, white papers, videos and even games. Customers can post comments and interact. It’s all about engagement with the customer. A good website can turn into something more than the customer just reading words and looking at pictures. It turns into a positive and interactive customer experience.

This customer experience is what the new form of marketing is about. I used to preach – and still do – that customer service is the new marketing – some of your best marketing. Create an amazing service experience that gets customers to not only come back but also share that experience with their friends, colleagues and family members. That may be the best form of marketing there is.

But beyond the actual customer experience, the interaction and engagement that happens before the sale – which is part of marketing – needs to be considered as part of the experience. Smart companies have figured this out. It’s about engagement, interaction and relationship building… before the customer ever decides to spend any money with you.

I still believe that customer service is the new marketing. And taking it a step further, the entire customer experience is your best marketing.

Copyright © MMXVI, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission