New Study: Marketing is five times more persuasive to current customers than non-customers

A new study entitled “Improving Marketing Effectiveness: A Case Study,” from the Josh Gordon Group, New York, N.Y., measured the marketing effectiveness of 34 tech companies and found a big divide between how marketing impacted current company customers versus non-customers. Both groups were asked to identify companies which had marketing that motivated them to buy. When the scores of all 34 companies were averaged together, a small majority of each company’s current customers (55.6 percent) said that they were motivated by company marketing. However, the number of non-customers motivated by the marketing was surprisingly low: less than a fifth as many (10.7 percent) said they were motivated by company marketing.

Conventional marketing wisdom holds that current customers will engage more with a company’s marketing than non-customers. For example, if you own an HP computer, you will likely pay more attention to HP ads, promotions, and social media. This study found that the reverse is also true: potential customers who do not own products from a company will pay significantly less attention to marketing from that company — in fact, five times less.

Media technology specialist John Luff of HD Consulting suggests that lack of time plays a role: “The motivation might be there to learn about products from new companies, but the time is not. With the time crunch, it is inevitable that you look to the people who are spending the most time with you already, and not chase other suppliers. There isn’t time to devote to the sales process and build new relationships.”

This study raises the question, “Do marketers unintentionally skew their messages toward existing customers?” Marketing strategist Josh Gordon, of the Josh Gordon Group, says the potential is there: “Companies typically receive far more feedback from current customers than non-customers. As a result, over time their marketing may reflect the values of current customers and have less appeal to non-customers. Some companies even view non-customers as simply ‘people who have not yet bought from us,’ when in actuality they might need a different approach.”

About Jennifer Kruger

Jennifer Barr Kruger is Director of Communications for Photo Marketing Association International and Publisher of PMA magazine. In addition, Kruger is editor of PMA Newsline and PMA Newsline Weekly, and was previously the editor of several other industry publications. She is a contributor to both the DIMAcast (www.DIMAcast.com) and the Imaging Executive Podcast (www.imagingexecutive.com). Kruger is a 2010 ADDY Award winner for podcasting. She joined PMA in 1994.