Customer retention is all about satisfaction: Lester Wunderman

JAIPUR: “Loyal customers are satisfied customers.”

The Buddha of direct marketing Lester Wunderman kept it straight and simple as he opened proceedings on Day 3 of Ad Asia 2003. “Knowing customer needs is the first step to satisfying them,” said the advertising legend.



Wunderman paraphrased from both the Bible and events from the life of the Buddha in his presentation and began by saying, “I have been a maverick, breaker of all rules and maker of new rules all my life.”

Wunderman had no answers though, for a problem that is being increasingly articulated against direct marketing across the world, that it represents unsolicited intrusion, and it is getting worse rather than better.

He did however agree in an indirect way with the complaint when he criticised what he termed as loose language and thought that goes under the name relationship marketing.

“Most people lead busy lives that are only getting busier. I don’t need and would resist having a ‘relationship’ with companies that make my toothpaste, soup, soap, or even my automobile. I don’t have the time or inclination to do it. I don’t purchase things again because I am loyal. I do so because I am satisfied. And I will remain a customer of the products, services and brands I use just as long as they continue to satisfy my needs,” he said.

The point that could be argued is that similar is the resistance to the very intrusive nature of direct marketing, especially tele-marketing.

Anyway, coming to the gist of what he had to say, “The mission of direct marketing has continued to evolve from that of just another way of making sales. With the advent of Information Age (what he termed the post-present age) and the new technologies it has spawned, it has become an information-based discipline.”

According to Wunderman, the way to leverage this information vis-?-vis product sale is to better understand consumers, their identity, their proclivities and their behaviour. This information should be used to develop strategies aimed at increasing share-of-market rather than share-of-mind, he stressed. But he issued a warning as well on the misdirected use of data. “Data is an expense – knowledge is a bargain. Collect only data that can become information, which in turn can become knowledge. Only knowledge can build on success and minimise risk,” he said.

The end aim of all direct marketing efforts should be on the creation of customers who will make repeat purchases, Wunderman said, pointing out that “it costs six to ten times as much to create a new customer than to keep an existing one.”

Speaking about the changes that the post-present age had engendered in the marketplace, Wunderman said, “We have moved from a culture of mass to one that is more information-based and directed to customers and prospects in small groups or even one at a time.” It was imperative that direct marketers “learn to communicate persuasively with individuals rather than demographic segments, he said. “From the age of mass marketing, we are entering the era of personal marketing,” he elaborated.

His concluding line: “In marketing and advertising as in life, there is no substitute for being direct.”

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