How Truly Committed Are You to Your Customers?

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: "A Vibrant Community Is the Ultimate Measure of Marketing Success," by John Jantsch, author of "The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It."

How Truly Committed Are You to Your Customers?

For most businesses the primary measure of marketing success is more sales, more profits or greater brand recognition.

That seems like a pretty obvious, logical and healthy way to view marketing doesn't it?

What if, however, your real goal was to build trust?

What if you made marketing decisions with the best interest of the customer community in mind first?

What if the ultimate measure of marketing was a committed customer?

The transition that would occur if your ultimate objective was to create customers that are totally committed to your business, is that you would have to learn to view all of your decisions with the best interest of your customer rather than what is often viewed as the best interest of your business.

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The difference in this last statement may be subtle for some. The difference, however, will show up when you start to question everything you do in this vein – will this decision benefit the customer or will this decision simply benefit the business?

This questioning will prove harder than you think, because sometimes the answer might be, this will cost us a bundle, but it's the right thing to do.

  • You may have to learn how to tell your prospects and customers that they shouldn't buy a particular product or service, because you know it's not right for them.
  • You may have to teach your customers how to get more from your products rather than buy more. You may have to teach them how to conserve rather than use up what you sell.
  • You may have to create and facilitate a customer community that can freely resell and trade what you sell.

Patagonia, a well respected outdoor apparel and gear brand, recently created a program in conjunction with eBay that makes it very easy for customers to resell and purchase used Patagonia gear.

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Patagonia benefits very little directly from this move, but they have created something that I believe is very much in the best interest of their community.

Now, some might conclude that this is just a natural extension of the Patagonia brand of recycling and that all they've really done is aggregate a market that existed in places like Craigslist – until you dig into the companion initiative called the Common Threads Initiative.

This is the message Patagonia is using to build a committed customer and it could come of as heresy to most hard-core marketers.

"Reduce. Don't buy what we don't need. Repair: Fix stuff that still has life in it. Reuse: Share. Then, only when you've exhausted those options, recycle."

In fact, they are asking customers to sign this pledge: I agree to buy only what I need (and will last), repair what breaks, reuse (share) what I no longer need and recycle everything else.

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While this initiative might actually cost Patagonia sales, it's the right message for the brand, it's the right message for the planet and it may ultimately be the right message for the customer's best interest.

Making business decisions for the benefit of your customers first will almost always pay long-term dividends no matter how tough they may be from a profit standpoint at the moment.

Telling a customer that your solution probably isn't the best and then ushering them to another, better solution, even one from a competitor, is the right thing to do and over time will create a totally loyal and committed customer willing to tell the world they can trust you.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author. The ideas in this post are drawn from his most recent work – The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It. Find more information at

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks