New Study: Marketing is Five Times More Persuasive to Current Customers than Non-customers

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A new study from the Josh Gordon Group, measuring the impact of marketing, found that it influences a majority of a company’s current customers (by 55.6%) but has only a minimal effect on its non-customers (10.7%).

A new study entitled “Improving Marketing Effectiveness: A Case Study,” from the Josh Gordon Group, 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%) 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%) 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 guru 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.”

According to Tom Canavan, Senior VP Strategic Development at Signiant, B-to-B suppliers themselves may contribute to the disparity: “If you are an important customer, you often get more information on new products, more tutorials, and more access to key people in a supplier’s organization. These are all motivating factors that keep existing customers loyal, and non-customers never receive these. As only current customers gain access to these interactions, continuing to be a customer can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

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.”

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