Nine marketing lessons learned

People will always say “no” if they don’t have enough information to make a decision.

If you ask somebody “Would you like to buy a makeup set for $30?”, they will say “no”. But if you ask them “Would you like to buy a makeup set that will make you look naturally beautiful, that’s made out of organic and earth-friendly ingredients, that’s been created because so many women’s faces suffer the effects of synthetic makeup ingredients and that comes in every shade, for every skin?” - they’re more likely to say “yes.” Not just because they now understand some benefits, but also because they feel more respected to have been given more information. A sales proposition without enough information is just an interruption. A sales proposition with information is an invitation.

Give people what they want, not what they need.

Apart from commodities that don’t stand for anything, people don’t buy anything because they need it. They buy it because they want it. They buy it because of how they’ll think they’ll feel after having it.

People don’t always know what they want, but they recognize it when they see it.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a restaurant space offered through Spacious. The restaurant is used as a co-working space during the day until 5pm, which is when it officially opens. I tried other typical co-working buildings before. I tried a private office and I tried working out of open floor co-working areas. But, I would have never thought I would be so much happier working out of a restaurant space. Here, the ambiance feels quiet, relaxed, hospitable and airy. This ambiance makes work feel like vacation (to me). I didn’t know what I wanted, until I found it. Your customers are not founders. They don’t fully understand your industry, your opportunities and your creative legroom. They don’t know what they want.

Every business is in the business of retaining customers.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a customer than it costs to retain one. At one point, every business that’s been in business for longer than a year and that looks at its numbers realizes that in order to stay and thrive in business, it needs to retain its customers. Retention is a whole different story than acquisition, and it doesn’t happen by accident. If you’d like to learn more about customer retention and loyalty, please join me inside my training program Lifelong Customers.

Direct mail still works (and will always work if you’d ask me).

Some years ago I had a conversation with the founder of a tech startup. He wanted to know more about customer retention. I told him how in the company I was working with at the time we used direct mail pieces (little trifolds and postcards) to drive our existing customers back to our website. He gave me a perplexed look as if I thought we were living in 1990 but that in fact, we were in the second decade of 2000. “Yes, direct mail works and I know it because we always hold a control group of customers who don’t receive any direct mail, which is a testing best practice in direct marketing”, I said to him. He became more curious, but I wondered how many companies started in our techy times are missing out on the profit and increase in retention they could get out of direct mail. (By the way, are you curious to learn more about direct mail? It’s a delicate subject, and I’m thinking of creating a class just about direct mail. If you’d be interested to learn direct mail best practices, send me a quick email at  

It’s ok to break-even on a customer’s first sale.

On the second sale you’ll make much more profit, since you won’t have an acquisition cost. So, it’s worth it to bring prospects in at a break-even cost.

Try to not speak to your customers the same way you speak to your prospects.

Your prospects need to know you better, while your customers need to feel acknowledged. There will soon come a time when customers will leave if they’re not acknowledged as customers. They’ve already given something to your business by buying from you. The least you can do is to periodically create two different versions of your marketing message, one for prospects and one, with extra special language, for your customers.

Test meaningful and scalable ideas.

Sometimes people want to test colors, formats or other little things that don’t make any difference. I highly recommend testing new ideas, but make sure that what you test is meaningful, scalable and implemented correctly.

The service, not the price.

Talking about the price too much will invite transaction buyers. Talking about the service - the business, the product, the process, the team, the customers - will create relationship buyers, people who are interested in you much more than in your price, who are more likely to remain loyal and more likely to get the most benefit out of what they buy.

Mihaela Akers