Miracle on 34th Street: the case for sharing CE content
This may seem like an odd time of year for Christmas stories, but there is an old movie scene that has been running through my mind off and on for the last few days. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a forward-thinking director of continuing legal education (CLE) about the value of helping customers get what they need.
Our conversation started simply enough. In reviewing the performance of our customers I noticed that a few customers, this CLE director among them, were experiencing growth well above the average. In her case, 2010 year-to-date performance was twice that of the same period in 2009. I asked her what she was doing to produce such dramatic results. The answer was as simple. “I give my customers what they want.”
I asked the same question you’re thinking…”Isn’t that what everyone does?”
“Yes, but I don’t limit my customers to what I can produce in-house. If I don’t have the content my customers need, I source it from someone who does. There’s no magic to it. And it benefits both of us, because if my members have a need and I can’t fill it, they’ll find someone who can. Why would I put them in a position where they need to find another source, when I can easily provide the content they require? If I let go of the notion that every bit of content has to be created by my organization, it opens up a wealth of high-quality CLE content for the customers I serve and it ensures that my website is the first place my customers go when they’re in the market for CLE content.”
So the fact that this CLE director was open to sourcing content from similar organizations was paying off for her association. She was conceding a portion of the revenue to the originator of the content, but rather than losing money, she was increasing revenue—by a significant amount. This was happening because she was able to offer more content (some that she would not have been able to create in-house) and creating the type of relationship with her customers where they always come to her website first—because they know they have a high percentage chance of getting what they need.
What does this have to do with old-time Christmas movies? There is a pivotal scene in Miracle on 34th Street where Macy’s Santa Claus sends a desperate mother to rival Gimbel’s because they have the “fire truck that squirts real water.” By doing this, Macy’s gains the customer’s loyalty and, more importantly, that customer’s commitment to always shop Macy’s first--because if Macy’s doesn’t have it she can count on them to help her get it. On top of that, this mother tells everyone she knows that they should follow suit and “shop Macy’s.”
Providing what your customers need, even if you have to point them to another source, may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s a very powerful approach to building customer relationships and driving real value from them. To enable our customers to execute a similar strategy, we have created the InReach Sharing Network. It keeps our customers up-to-date on available CE content and makes it easy for them to give customers what they need by sharing content (and revenue). Am I stretching it a bit to compare our Sharing Network to the Miracle on 34th Street? Perhaps. But a year-over-year doubling of sales performance might suggest otherwise.
Maybe you have some customer loyalty stories that you can share?