I just read this quote from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh:
"People ask me if it is expensive to do that. It is very expensive. But we are willing to invest to create a ‘wow’ experience that generates customer loyalty. Our whole philosophy is to take most of the money we would spend on marketing, put it into the customer experience, and let word of mouth be our true form of marketing. Repeat customers buy more and become our best advocates."
That’s one great quote of many in this recent HBS article on the Zappos/Amazon article by Bill Taylor. It also reminds me of a tweet from Kathy Sierra that wondered what a company would look like that spent its entire marketing budget only on current customers.
I know that the Museum has this in mind as we work to become a member-centered organization, as we know that members are not only our most loyal and enthusiastic customers, but also the people who learn the most from their visits (and it’s great that we can connect mission and financial success in the same measurable outcome).
Of course, it’s hard to measure or point to word of mouth the way that Zappo’s can with the video mentioned in the HBS article. However, I was quite thrilled to return from vacation and see the way that commenters on a story in the local newspaper defended us (free registration required). The story was a positive piece about our new Dinosaur Trail, but the first comment was that our admission prices were “a rip.” The next 5 comments were from people talking about how great and affordable both our admission prices and memberships are, and how much value they extract from visiting us. Knowing how venomous commenters in local newspapers’ online forums can be, this was particularly heartening, and a sign we’re headed in the right direction.