Here are the takeaways from an article on the demise of AOL by one of our favorite tell-it-as-it-is marketing gurus and Guest Agitator Denny Hatch. But you should really read the whole piece and milk it for all its wisdom! The lessons apply to non-profit marketing as well.

If your business model has been a cash elephant for years, think long and hard about summarily changing it.

“The sale begins when the customer says yes.”
Bill Christensen, freelance copywriter

By that, Christensen means its imperative to continually resell the customer on the benefits of doing business with you.

Is every contact between you and your customers a delight for the customer? If not, make it so.

On June 29, 2006, I wrote a story about Zale Corp., a company that changed its business model without testing and with disastrous results. The title of the piece: Before Changing Your Business Model, Consult a Direct Marketer.” The only thing that will save AOL is to call Janice Brandt out of retirement and put her in charge.

It is virtually impossible to reach a live person at AOL. If you want help, prepare to get lost in auto-reply jail. Be accessible.

Do you know how your customer service people are treating your customersreally? Do you have secret shoppers continually pushing them and reporting back to HQ? If not, make it so.

A happy customer will tell three people. A dissatisfied customer will tell the world. For an exercise in vitriol, Google AOL sucks.”

* If you have achieved a marketing breakthrough do not blab to the press how smart you are. A competitor smarter than you are will leave you in his dust. Instead, just shut up and rake in the loot.

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