On August 5, 2012, while Americans were recovering from the hottest July in recorded history, one of the first truly successful Mars rovers was producing over 2,000 watts of heat in order to warm itself up to operational temperature after a 150-day journey through space. This rover went on to be one of the most successful reconnaissance missions in NASA history. It discovered water on the surface of Mars, and even remnants of incredibly primitive life sources. Its name?
There’s a reason NASA named this intrepid vehicle “Curiosity” while most of its other vehicles share names with gods. Human curiosity has taken us to the farthest reaches of space and the deepest depths of the ocean. It’s responsible for every revelation in physics, philosophy, technology, exploration, and the arts. It is the greatest kinetic force in the human intellectual arsenal.
Curiosity seems like a frivolous word, but I assure you, it is the single most necessary ingredient in growth — personal and professional. The old idiom says that curiosity killed the cat, but what if I told you that curiosity was the key to killing it in the new year?
Do I have your attention?
According to Bill McBean, the author of “The Facts of Business Life,” “The sad truth is that fewer than 30 percent of businesses last more than 10 years, and most failures occur in the first few years of operation — [the majority] fail from the owner’s lack of understanding in how their role can make a business a success.”
No one in their right mind starts out their business with the intent to fail, but occasionally, once a business is up and running, owners develop a habit of managing their business with little to no intent at all. If you want to experience continued business growth, you’re going to have to start by getting curious.
Business, relationships, personal growth, and financial success are just a small portion of the aspects of our lives that stagnate when we begin to lose sight of our curiosity. Need more proof?
According to The Guardian, “A user of the popular question-and-answer website Quora recently asked how to become a billionaire. The question received a fascinating answer from an authoritative source: Justine Musk, former wife of Elon Musk, the serial entrepreneur, inventor, engineer — and billionaire. Ms. Musk advised the questioner to stop thinking about money and instead to get “deeply, intensely curious about what the world want and needs.”
How will getting curious about your world help you become a billionaire? No new idea comes from recycling the same boring experiences, and no new growth strategy springs from a mind that’s not actively pursuing new points of view, information, and interests.
Additionally, Chief Learning Officer Media calls curiosity “the gateway competency.” They go on to say, “Curiosity may be the most helpful competency in business today. Start with genuine inquisitiveness, a bias toward asking and learning, and an authentic interest in others and what they might have to share, and there’s no limit to a leader’s potential.”
And while curiosity can revitalize your hunger for life and new ideas, getting curious about getting your business and marketing campaigns in tip-top shape can also revitalize your revenue. While you probably knew exactly how to flex your curiosity muscles as a kid, if it’s been a while, you may need a little something to warm you up.
As the new year kicks off, TNP would love give you a push in the right direction. We’ve got a full menu of informational appetizers to kick your taste for curiosity — and your marketing campaign — into overdrive.
Love the One You’re With
While expansion is the dazzling mirage on the horizon of every business plan, it’s five times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain the ones you’ve already got. Emmett C. Murphy, Ph.D. and Mark A. Murphy, MBA, authors of “Leading on the Edge of Chaos,” know that reducing customer loss by as little as 5 percent can increase profits by anywhere from 25–125 percent.
The people who are already putting food on your table, who have had a least three business transactions with you, are 54 percent more likely to spend their money with you again.
Why gamble your precious marketing budget on a ploy to pay for new customers, when you can earn the capital to grow through something as simple as improving your retention tactics. Spending your budget and energy on keeping the clients that built your business to begin with will not only pay for itself, but fund your future expansion.
Remember that unless your growth is sustainable, it’s useless. Get curious about engaging, thanking, and retaining your existing customer base, perhaps with a direct mail campaign, promotion, or giveaway. Why not all three?
Show up, Bring Gifts
When I was a kid, I remember obsessively waiting for my Disney magazine to come every month. As an 8-year-old, I didn’t always read it cover to cover, but I do remember that every time it appeared in my mailbox, it made my day. And the one time it didn’t, I was crushed. As it turns out, I’m not alone. America has taken its adoration of monthly arrivals to the next level with the rise of the multi-million dollar subscription box industry. Many companies are currently capitalizing on America’s desire to have a goody box delivered to their door like clockwork every month.
Subscriptions range from things like BarkBox (pet toys), to Birchbox (beauty supplies), to Loot Crate (a box overflowing with nerdy goodness). This appeals to the consumer desire for both habit and novelty. They know they’re getting something great, but exactly what it will be is a surprise.
You need to choose to get curious about how to appeal to this consumer split-brain syndrome. While sending out a monthly sampling of products may not be the most practical route for your company, you could send the content equivalent.
Why not try a monthly direct mail campaign and send your own information-driven goody box? It never hurts to “think outside the box” and provide a little shock and awe.
Put More “You” in Your Business
In 2010 the self-checkout lane industry made over $521.4 million dollars. This marked a growth margin of upwards of 46% over the course of three years. The automated checkout stands were saving companies millions a year on labor, and making a more economical use of valuable retail space. They seemed like a no-lose choice. And yet one year later, major grocery retailer Albertson’s announced that it would begin pulling the stands from its stores. Why? Because for the most part, people love to do business with people.
Once, after a five-minute shouting match with a voice-responsive automated tech support system, followed by nearly 20 minutes of being electronically transferred between menus that could not discern what I wanted, I very nearly swore off all phones forever. However, I have endless — okay, definitely not endless — patience for the fact that my husband can never remember what I said to him five seconds ago. Why is this? Well, because my husband tells a mean joke. Because we have a bond, a relationship.
You see, human preference leans into nuance. When we know the person behind a business — their personality, their reality — we are so much more likely to want them, and by extension, their business, to succeed.
You’ve got to get curious about how to show your customers who you are. You can do this by holding events, social media interactions, and content-based direct mail marketing. If you’re already doing these, try checking out our blog on personalizing your approach to direct mail.
Up Your IQ About EQ
Emotional intelligence, otherwise referred to as your EQ, is one of the most important and underrated elements of business success.
According to entrepreneur.com, people with high emotional intelligence make an average of $29,000 dollars a year more than those with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The online magazine reports, “These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.”
Studies show that unlike IQ, which remains static throughout your life, EQ is malleable. Increasing your EQ is shown to improve a bevy of skills, including stress management, decision making, and leadership. It also allows us to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of those around us, including employees, clients, and vendors.
Ready to get curious about your EQ? Start by taking this free EQ quiz.
Become a Household Name
Don’t ever let your company become truly “out of sight, out of mind.” While it’s true that there is such a thing as too much exposure, studies are showing that just simply seeing a name repeatedly can incline you to choose that product over any other when the times comes to buy.
According to businessdictionary.com, the mere exposure effect, “… also called the familiarity principle, causes individuals to prefer an option that they have been exposed to before to an option they have never encountered, even if the exposure to the first option was brief.”
Get curious about how you can make sure you’re showing up on your customer’s doorstep over and over again in a subtle, passive way. How can you incorporate yourself into your customer’s lives and keep your business top of mind?
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Entrepreneur contributor and founder of Business Networking International (BNI), Ivan Misner, likens the difference between cold-call marketing and network referral marketing to that between a line fisherman and a net fisherman.
He explains, “What are the odds of that particular five-pound largemouth bass ending up in your net? If you don’t know about that fish in advance — what kind of fish it is, how big it is, where it hangs out, what time of day it comes up into the shallows to feed — the odds are pretty low that you’ll catch that exact fish.”
The advantage to referral networking then is that you are not chasing down one single fish. With referral marketing, you’ve got the gist of who your fish is; after all, you’ve already caught one of his friends. You focus on the act of putting your net out, again and again.
Most marketers, however, go home with nothing but big fish tales, because after they’ve drawn their first catch, they assume that referral marketing means that all the other fish will leap right into the boat and ask where they can find the nearest frying pan. This isn’t the case. You’ve got to keep casting your net, you’ve got to ask for the referrals.
Get curious about who your customers are, or if you’re in search of a little more brain food on increasing referrals, check this out.
Know Your Brand Story
Every single business has a brand. I’m not talking about packaging or logos. I’m talking about your values, your purpose, what you are communicating to your customers about who the hell you are and what you stand for. If you don’t know what yours is, chances are you’re not leaving the kind of impression you want on customers. You’ll be sending out static, instead of broadcasting a clear idea of your values that your customers can relate to.
If you want to kill it in 2016, now is the time to take a good, hard look at who and what you want your business to be known for.
What is your company good at? Who are your best, most loyal customers? Where do you make your most money, and how? What is your company culture?
In order to find out who you are as a business and capitalize on it, you’re going to have to take a look at all of these things, and find the places where they meet. This will be your brand. You’re going to have to get deeply, hungrily curious about the gap between how your company is being seen and how you want it to be seen.
Focus on User Experience
I once had a conversation with an entrepreneur who was discussing his website with me. He tried to direct me to a section of his site, but after 10 minutes of back and forth, he finally admitted that he had no clue what the user interface looked like, because he was logged into the administrative site. He had no idea what I was experiencing as a user.
It’s frighteningly easy to fall victim to this mistake ourselves, but if you want to truly rise to outright slaying the competition, the easiest edge to have is that of an over-the-top user experience.
Here at TNP …
We have a set of nine Core Values that we try to live by in all our interactions with each other and with our clients. One of these Core Values is to “Deliver a ‘Wow’ Experience.” The entrepreneur I mentioned earlier made a very basic mistake. It’s absolutely vital that you experience your company from the user’s perspective, and then, when you have a thorough understanding of what it’s like to be served by your company, take it up a notch — or 10.
Take a page out of the Dutch Bros. customer service handbook. If you aren’t paying attention to and cultivating a user experience, you can’t be certain it’s the best it can be.
Direct mail marketing can be a great way to reach out to customers and create an experience, as well as make them feel like they have a say in their user experience. To really focus on user experience, you have to get curious about what they are seeing, put yourself in their shoes, and then make the leap from what they are experiencing to what you would want to experience if you were them.
Work on Your Long Game
We are all interested in profits, but at a certain point, if we want to go from baseline success to killing it, we have to start paying attention to the bigger picture. This means setting long-term goals, building relationships that will last, and making the kinds of investments you may have resisted up until this point. Maybe there’s a marketing strategy you’ve had your eye on, but have been unwilling to sink the capital into it because you wanted to see a quicker ROI.
This is the year to take the shortsightedness out of your company’s vision. If this is your weak point, you can start by getting curious about where your company is going to be in three, five, and 10 years. Make a specific plan, then get curious about the steps to get there.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
I once spoke with an entrepreneur whose marketing manager had “talked him into” doing a newsletter, but he wasn’t sure why he needed it. He was already running local media advertisements, and he had assumed that would be enough. We spoke at length about the million reasons a direct mail campaign can be incredible for a business — enough to fill a book — but then also began discussing how much marketing campaigns need one another to be the best they can be.
It’s so vital that your marketing campaigns lead your clients to one another. Particularly if you keep in mind that each time a client encounters one of your marketing campaigns, that’s considered a “touch.” A touch is any kind of encounter between a company and its prospect where the product or service in question is discussed, directly or indirectly. And if you keep in mind that 80% of sales take place after the fifth touch, suddenly you’re faced with the value of having a veritable buffet of marketing techniques.
Maybe it’s time to get curious about the why it’s so important to have multiple interacting marketing campaigns.
The truth is …
While it’s just as vital to your business that you get curious about your successes and failures, you’ve also got to have a relationship with experts you can trust to help lead you to the information you need to kill it in the new year and beyond.