How your firm's best (or "AIC") customers can meet–and even crush–critical growth objectives more efficiently than traditional marketing, sales, support and product development.
CEO Carl Pei launched ONEPLUS by forming a customer community first, before launching a product. The community of phone enthusiasts co-created its first phone—the OnePlus One phone—, and then evangelized it to the market when it launched. RESULT: $300M in first year revenue, only $300 media spend.
Marc Benioff designed early SALESFORCE events around candid conversations between customers and prospects—no sales pitch needed. Benioff let his customers plus Salesforce’ co-created products do the selling. RESULT: 80% of such prospects became customers.
To address fast-falling retention rates, SAS CANADA eschewed an expensive marketing campaign, and deployed the firm's Customer Champions, who organized 20 live events in 13 cities that drew 2,000 customers. RESULT: Retention rates restored from 83% to consistent mid-90s.
In its first two years, ZOOM spent $0 on marketing. Eric Yuan built market share on a foundation of natural advocates—nurtured by his fidelity to "delivering happiness.” RESULT: Despite being late to the market (2011), Zoom achieved market leadership in revenue and number of events in 2020.
Microsoft's customer community (espy MVPs) reduced support costs by $100s M—and improved support satisfaction scores.
Despite his various troubles, Elon Musk has focused Tesla admirably on disrupting the EV industry for two decades. No more nerdy electric cars: Musk made Teslas cool. Dealership rip-offs were out—Tesla owns “stores” that amplify the cars' "wow" experience. Musk depended on natural advocates for growth, spent little on marketing. RESULT: Tesla’s value cratered in 2022, but is still 3x of its top 3 competitors combined (1/1/2003).
T-Mobil was a perennial laggard when CEO John Legere joined it. Its market cap was a paltry $3B vs. +/-$150B for AT&T and Verizon. Legere vowed to compete with natural customer evangelism by reversing the leaders’ appalling customer practices. He eliminated binding contracts, international roaming charges, hidden fees, and more. RESULT: In just a decade, T-Mobile's market cap was neck & neck with AT&T and Verizon.
When he started Vanguard, Jack Bogle upended Wall Street’s entrenched abuse of investors. He installed a radical regime: provide the best possible investments for its investors/ customers! Establish no firm growth goals. No commissioned sales. Cut costs relentlessly–and pass them to customers. RESULT: Today, Vanguard is the second largest mutual fund in the world.
Excluding customers from product development is a huge mistake, as extensive research by MIT shows. E.g. 3M's "lead users" co-created products that achieved 2x market share and 8x revenues over internally created products. LEGO's 1000+ developer-customers created a robot that could solve a Rubik cube—a monster hit, and harbinger of Lego's triumph over Sony's internally designed robotics.
Efforts to get teenagers to stop smoking failed for decades, until FLORIDA invited teens into a community of peers: Hundreds gathered to brainstorm a new campaign ("truth"), formed an organization to implement it (SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco), and led the first successful anti-teen smoking campaign in history. RESULT: Teen smoking in FL reduced 17% in 1st year, 50% in 10 yrs.
An on-premise software vendor (CONFIDENTIAL) launched a SaaS version but less than a quarter of “on prem” customers made the switch. Customer Marketing then mobilized what switchers they had to describe why they took the leap, what the migration was like, and how life is better on the other side. RESULT: 70% on-prem customers migrate to SaaS in 1st yr.
Forrester's board mandated an expansion initiative to reverse loss of wallet share in major accounts. While most divisions tried traditional marketing initiatives, Customer Marketing in one division mobilized power-user customers to spread the word within lagging accounts. The power-users explained to non-using colleagues how Forrester was helping them far more credibly than marketing could. RESULT: 100-200% seat expansion in major accounts in one year.