One of our principals was in a client strategy meeting yesterday and shared with us his experiencing the typical "intellectual navel-gazing" that clients often trip into as they ponder the "c" word... commitment. The challenge for many companies (especially those beholden to public shareholders) is making the required multi-year commitment necessary to realize demonstrable ROI from a retention marketing strategy.
Customer loyalty is something that requires considerable effort to earn, but can be lost in one bad step. We talk elsewhere about how the tolerance for mis-steps can change over the course of the customer life cycle, but it only takes one goof of the right magnitude to do so. We digress.
The point is, attaining the level of loyalty to ensure a year-over-year "RFMi" score (we talk about that "i" elsewhere), requires a sustained commitment (investment in resources, time and effort) in your retention marketing strategy. And the tricky bit is realizing that it takes some time to nurture the seeds of loyalty before a harvest can be realized.
Returning to our navel-gazers, the fulcrum of their wavering seemed to be on the financial commitment, no matter how scalable. Sure, CFOs require, and shareholders demand to see ROI within financial cycles typically measured in quarters. But the commitment required is unwavering across years. And that's when it hit our partner. So, he offered his final advice for the day:
Water the Bamboo.
"Huh?" you ask. Yes, you have to water the bamboo. Its a philosophy our partner acquired as a collegiate athlete at Oregon, evangelized by his former coaches and advisers. Actually, it has become quite a leadership movement in recent years. The idea goes like this...
Big timber bamboo farming is an unsual process. Seeds are planted some six feet under ground. And they are watered. And watered. And watered... for four to six years without ever seeing any results above surface. But the big bamboo farmer is committed. He puts in the time to nurture and water the bamboo. Then comes the truly amazing part: once the bamboo tree sprouts above the surface, it will typically grow more than 60 feet in sixty days. A sustained, unwavering, patient commitment produces bountiful results in the proper time.
Such a commitment to implementing your retention marketing strategy, like the bamboo, will produce results, proportional to your investment in resources, time, patience, and effort. We think its apt. You should consider it too.