Not many people know this, but when the Mayflower first arrived in America, it dropped anchor in Provincetown, not Plymouth. The Mayflower Compact was written in Provincetown Harbor, and the first difficult winter was spent on Cape Cod.
The Pilgrims were at the brink of starvation when a party sent out to locate fresh water miraculously “found” some corn, which they took and which sustained them until they could set sail for the more hospitable mainland.
Of course, the corn wasn’t just there to be “found.” It had been carefully buried by members of the Wampanoag tribe in anticipation of their upcoming difficult winter. Where I come from, there’s another word for that: it’s called “stealing.” But never mind: finding works just fine for a lot of people.
As George Lakoff has pointed out, how someone frames a conversation makes all the difference in its meaning. We would do well to look behind the framing to what is actually happening.
We all talk about “customer acquisition,” as though “acquiring” a customer were something we do when picking fruit from a tree or wandering through an antique shop. The reality is that we don’t “acquire” customers. We work hard and spend a lot of money to get people to buy from us, and being clearer about that language may allow us to be clearer about the process itself.
When buying new customers, we use a number of different channels: advertising, list purchases, search and social media, and so on. But let’s be clear about what we’re doing: we’re purchasing them just as surely as we hope that they’ll purchase from us.
And once we’re clear about what we’re doing, we can be clearer about how we spend the money we’ve budgeted to buy these new customers. Allocating funds is an important and often confusing undertaking, as B2C marketers are faced with an array of options and not a lot of guidance for navigating through them.
As our recent survey pointed out, marketers who use third-party partners to help they buy valuable new customers with less risk and better results are the marketers who are the most satisfied with their customer acquisition management solution. Why not join them? Be honest about what you’re doing—buying new customers—and partner with a company that will help you spend your budget efficiently and effectively.
These days, most of us can go to the market and buy our corn: there’s no need to steal it. But being honest at all times about what we are actually doing may help clarify both our intentions and our strategies. And that can only have one result: the purchase of high-quality new customers!