I haven’t written in a long time. Mostly because beyond technology there isn’t anything interesting going on in marketing. And in an arms race, if everyone has access to the same merchants and weaponry, there really can’t be any winners. So how do you win?

I’ve been spending most of my time on the strategy side. Remember, one the the first axioms I’ve published is “If you are not marketing strategically, you are not marketing.”

Most people don’t grasp strategy; they confuse it with mission, goals, or tactics. Yes, you need all of these to have or execute a strategy, but also as I’ve written before, sameness is not a strategy. So, trying to out-do your competitors by being marginally better is not a strategy—it’s actually hopium.

But this piece isn’t about explaining what strategy is, but simply to give you one.

In combination, three recent articles foretell where services and digital products companies are heading (or need to be!):

  1. “Why Salesforce.com, Workday And ServiceNow Are Obsessing Over This New Cloud Metric”
  2. “Outcome-based Business Models for Enterprise Software”
  3. “New Decades, New Rules: Focus on the New Scarcity!”

Individually, there’s isn’t anything earth-shatteringly new here:

  1. It’s customer success, not satisfaction or loyalty.
  2. Having skin in the game and acting as a partner, rather than vendor, is good business.
  3. Data analytics, machine learning, and AI will power insights and value.

But when the three approaches—obsessing over customer success; implementing and outcomes-based business model; and leveraging AI and deep analytics—are combined and exuded as corporate culture and go-to-market paradigms, then competitors will be completely unhinged.

1) Bob Evans’ point is that creating lifetime customer loyalty creates incredible value that drops to the bottom line. This is validated by the three “case studies”—Salesforce.com, Workday, and ServiceNow—which despite their already enormous size, continue to grow between 20-40% year over year.

2) Bill McBeath advocates for revising pricing, so that remuneration is based on measurable outcomes. Basically, you establish the current willingness to pay (the present cost of the problem), define the metrics you want as outcomes, and then mutually agree to the value of the solution to be implemented.

3) And the evergreen Geoffrey Moore predicts that CRM will overtake ERP “as the most prominent information system.” Why? Because, again and as above, customer intimacy creates loyalty, which creates revenues.

We all know that churn kills. Or, as Jason Lemkin says, “Customers don’t churn, they quit you.”

So, in an age of low switching costs, annual contract renewals, dwindling loyalty, and increasing automation, what’s your strategy for competing and winning?

If you want to achieve zero customer churn, you need to walk and map your value chain backward, and examine each and every piece to see how it connects to creating lifetime customer loyalty (or fix it).