This episode features Monica Sharma-Patnekar, an eCommerce brand mentor & consultant, a purpose-driven (digital) brand, marketing & strategy professional with 17 years of global experience building brands. She’s worked across diverse sectors and companies from Fortune 500 to scale-& start-ups.
Find out what is the purpose that drives Monica to be a purpose-driven marketing and strategy professional. Listen to the factors that she feels are important for a company not just to survive, but thrive.
Discover some of the biggest mistakes Monica has seen in terms of online marketing and how much value they put on customer retention versus customer acquisition.
Monica deep dives into turning customers into forever fans and actionable steps in terms of customer retention.
Listen to the services Monica is offering to clients to help increase their business, her favorite success story, and the challenges they struggle with in getting results for their clients.
Episode Action Items:
To find more information about Monica, go to:
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:00
Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. We are happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic, which is why your current customers may need more of your focus this year. Today's guest is an E commerce brand mentor and consultant a proven I'm sorry, a purpose driven digital brand, marketing strategy professional with 17 years of global experience building brands. She has worked across diverse sectors and companies from Fortune 500 to scale and startups. A big welcome to Monica Sharma Panetkar. Hi, Monica.
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 0:37
Hi, Andy, thanks for having me on.
Andy Splichal 0:39
You know, we're excited to have you. Now, quick question before we really jump into it. But your bio, your bio reads that you are a purpose driven marketing and strategy professional, but it doesn't mention the purpose. What what is that purpose that drives you?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 0:54
Oh, my God. So there's a lot. So first of all, I work with highly purpose driven businesses, conscious businesses. So that's a really big part of what I do, who really care about, they have a strong purpose about people and planet. And what really drives me is, you know, we know that over 50% of businesses, you know, sometimes fill in the first few years. And for me, it's like, I want to see them thrive, not just survive, and just get by. And I've seen a lot of the big things that go into this is this core inner belief that business owners and business leaders need to have to really create that clarity, confidence and courage to keep driving the business forward. And that's kind of my own journey in this area has really is really what drives me to work with businesses here.
Andy Splichal 1:41
So let's, let's talk about those factors, what what are the factors that you feel are important for a, for a company not just to survive, but thrive in your own words?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 1:52
Well, focusing on the long term, long term business is, of course, short term actions, but lot with a long term vision, really knowing what you're creating, why you're creating it. And really, with that long term vision in mind, what you stand for as a brand. So really knowing your customer, really, absolutely knowing your customer, what they want, who they are, why they should even be buying from you. And then really translating that into a strong brand that people can actually connect to and feel like they're part of. And I think that's what really builds customer retention and loyalty as well, for the long term. And moving slightly away from I think we've been in a market for a long time where I've seen a lot of people want to see an ROI within, I don't know, 10 to 30 days. And I think we need to change that perception and thinking a little bit.
Andy Splichal 2:41
So you mentioned that 50% of new businesses fail. What are some of the biggest mistakes you've seen, that then leads to that demise? It makes makes companies fail?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 2:55
Not knowing who your customer is, and why they're buying why they should buy from you and being able to translate that to a really strong kind of brand value proposition. That's the biggest key thing most of the people I work with. Everybody talks about ideal clients ideal customers will ideal Honestly, even if you look it up in a dictionary, it means something from imagination, they're drawing out a customer profile on paper without ever actually having spoken to the people who are buying from them. So this is one of the biggest mistakes I see consistently.
Andy Splichal 3:25
So I'm getting a theme here knowing who your customers are.
So once you know who your customers are, how much value do you put on customer retention versus customer acquisition?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 3:42
A lot. I think to say that one is more important than the other is not completely correct because you do need new customers coming in to be able to grow your business, but it's the customer retention of the you know, we also know it costs I think five times less of to to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. So that's where your long term sustainability and profitability comes in, in a business. And it's also where I've seen even if I just look from Black Friday till over the holidays, all the products and brands I've bought from how many people have really focused on this space is limited and I think this is such a crucial opportunity that businesses have by really focusing on keeping those customers with them for a longer time.
Andy Splichal 4:27
So what are some of the steps that company could take to focus on those customers let's take the example of Black Friday to to now because I you know I made a ton of online purchases I based on the industry I'm in I tried to make all my purchases online but I have received very few very limited communication sense but what what are some of the steps that somebody should be focusing on from there?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 4:54
There are two sides to this. For me there are two sides to this. I think there is one which is more of the fundamental was really, you know, taking out the time as well to do that customer research and understand okay, these are the people who are coming in, who are they? Why are they buying what brought them in? What are the triggers and barriers that have gotten them in the first place, and also understanding from your customers who have been with you who longer and have bought, who are they, right, so you can understand what keeps people with you. So that you can then translate that into really strong brand and messaging and content that you put out to keep those people to keep the communication going and keep building that community around your brand. So that's one side of it. And the more actionable as well side is the other, which is the whole post purchase process, I think this is again, that missed opportunity. Starting from the packaging you send to your customer, to some kind of communication email sequence that you are and even SMS, depending on what you're using to go have an ongoing communication with that customer, I've seen very little business, it's very few businesses actually focus there, your packaging is something that somebody's going to get, and they have to open it, you can do so much more with that in terms of communicating what what they're getting, how they can use it, what your brand really stands for, and kind of reinforce that, that great decision that they made by purchasing from you. And then that whole post purchase process, continuing that sort of communication with them, so that they actually feel like they're part of something a little bigger than just the product that they bought, but also very helpful advice, you know how to use that product, or how to take care of it. And I bought so many brands, recently, some of the higher price categories, I really tried to focus on conscious products as well, when I buy and not a single one of them has sent me any information about the products once I purchase. I'm on their general newsletter. And that's all I get.
Andy Splichal 6:46
Yeah, that's amazing. Now I saw on your website, he used a term called Forever fans, and I love that I might steal that I really liked that. How do you define a forever fan? And how do you how do you get those be in a brand?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 7:01
So for our fan is a customer that will buy from you repeatedly. So not just one time or a second time? But that buys from you repeatedly? And like I say it's and
Andy Splichal 7:12
are you defining it three or more or more than that? I mean, how many purchases?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 7:17
Well, I would I think that, again, varies on the kind of product you have, how often it would be, but definitely that they're buying three, four or five times from you and not just stopping at the first or second purchase. So they're coming back and coming back for more. And they're also telling others about you. So I advocate as well as an advocate as well, yes. Okay,
Andy Splichal 7:39
So how do you get them?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 7:41
How do you get them? Well, I'm gonna go back to those fundamentals. Again, it's really knowing who the ones are buying from you in the first place. So I think you you obviously have this strong database of your customers. So who are the ones that have bought from you repeatedly? Who are they? Why are they buying from you? What what what have triggered them? And if you can compare those with the ones that stopped buying from you? What happened there? What What were the barriers over there, I think that's that core customer understanding is something I still see a lot of people miss. That's one. And then the other part is as well is that all continuing once you've gotten them into your world, you've done the customer acquisition, the whole piece that we talked about is really continuing that ongoing communication with them to make sure they understand who you are, what they bought, why they bought it, and why it's so great for them so that you can keep that communication going. And not having to always promote using discounts only as well.
Andy Splichal 8:37
So you recommend people reach out to customers who have made multiple purchases?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 8:43
Andy Splichal 8:45
And are you reaching out by phone? Are you reaching out by email?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 8:49
Well, you reach out by email or whatever contact information you have. But I'm a big advocate for one on one customer interviews. Surveys are great, they'll give you information on a wider span, it's very easy to get some quick information. But it doesn't allow you to dive deeper into their motivations behind it right? You don't ask why they actually do something.
Andy Splichal 9:10
So yeah, let's let's go there. Let's what questions you ask, let's roleplay, you call me I've just bought three times from you. What are you asked me?
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 9:18
What am I asking you? Well, I have the four Ds that I use as well. So first of all, I'd like to get to know who you are as a person. You know, the standard demographics, just to give me an idea what kind of stage you are in life and who you are a bit as a person, then those are the demographics. So
Andy Splichal 9:36
Do you have a you have a script you're following.
Monica Sharma-Patnekar 9:38
I create we create a script before getting on but I would say just like you would do for podcast interview, it should just be kind of a guide. And you let yourself be guided through also the answers that are given obviously, and I like to say I also use this technical customer story probing where you're inviting your customers to tell you stories. And that allows you to go into more emotional depth with your customers versus a just sticking to the standard. Why questions? Why did you buy from me, as customers I'm going to try, we tend to rationalize the purchase. Whereas more for higher priced products conscious products that are more once the needs, you'll see, we're really driven by feelings out, that's what you want to uncover. So I like to focus on more inviting them to tell you stories about their purchase. So for example, let's make it give you a really clear example. What's the last purchase you made may I ask?
I purchased a pair of boots,
A pair of boots. Okay. So if I would ask you, okay, why did you purchase that? Why did you buy that?
I looked online and saw a lot of good reviews, and they had a Facebook community.
Okay. And if you could just tell me a little moment a story that really stuck with you. Regarding those boots.
That's what you're asking the customers? Yes. I mean, I don't know. I didn't research it. I don't know if there's a story I, I've been looking for a pair of boots that are I thought the decent value, and I found Thursday boots and then had a great community. But I don't know if there's any emotional story to it?
Well, I think because I think you've been led a little bit by some of the things I've already said. But if I say a moment that really stuck with you, when you were doing that research, okay, tell me a little more about the community.
Yeah, I mean, people seem to love it. And so I figured I would give it a you know, I was really surprised. I looked at it Black Friday, and they said No discounts on his pricing. And that was one thing that really stuck with me for for that purchase.
Right. And that's something so the more we ask stories and or moments that stick with people, and then we probe further, obviously, with some more standard questions. That's when we can dive deeper into those moments that really like that really stick with people. So in the first question, you just gave me a more rational answer. And when I tried to probe further with a moment that really stuck with you, it was about something but honest pricing, and then I can dig further into that and see, okay, what was it about that that really made you make that purchase?
I see a lot of businesses worried about calling customers, they're worried to bother them, they're worried that, you know, they're gonna come across as a telemarketer, or they're gonna get hung up on? What would you say to that objection?
Yeah, I've seen that objection a lot. I've experienced it with a lot of my clients as well. And I would say is that there will always be people who are going to say, of course, no, and that's the right you know, not to take part in any kind of customer interview. But it's all about how you reach out to them. I normally always send out I say, reach out first via email, tell them who you are, as you know, are you the marketer, or the business owner, whoever is reaching out and tell them honestly, why you're reaching out that you would like to, you know, improve your business and some of the customers better, and therefore, you'd love to get their feedback and planning a call. And you will still see that so many customers, the feedback I've always heard from a lot of my clients is that they're always so surprised to hear that customers end up saying, Oh, you actually took the time to speak with me, you really care. There's so little, so few businesses that actually do that nowadays. So people actually want to be seen as a human, they want that personal connection and touch again. And they would love to they actually like helping other people. So whilst there always be people will say no, don't let that stop you from reaching out to your customers.
Do you find it necessary to incentivize to get an interview or people just happy to help if you call them.
So people are generally happy to help. But I always also suggest, you know, just as a more as a token of appreciation versus making it as the incentive is just give them you know, something just to say thank you for the time at the end, you know, you can give them a voucher or something to continue shopping with you. It gets the connection going as well. I think it's always nice to just give something back to somebody for their time.
So where would be the best place to get started for listener they're selling stuff online? Should they go back? And I assume not, not contact everybody who's who's purchased during the holiday crush, but if they purchase twice? I mean, where where do you even start?
look at your email, look at your email list, look at your purchase history. You can segment that from there, you know, if you want to maybe look at the most recent customers that bought from you maybe the third or fourth time or more than two times, you can select a few from that. And I would say no, you can also select a few maybe only purchased once, but recently and see why they maybe an X amount of months ago. So I would say start with your list segment there and then reach out to people from there.
And you're trying to uncover the why they they purchased. But what are you going to do once you have that why, what how are you going to use that information?
So I'd like to just add there so it's not just why they purchase it's, I always say so you want to know who the person is but also what's going on in their life. Who is that person? What are their needs, wants and desires, and then therefore why did they buy your product? And how does that fit into their life right as well? And then how they behave within your category? What are the triggers? What are the barriers? Where are they buying from? How did they find you? And what really makes them happy, what delights them in that experience. So these are kind of the four buckets I like, I like covering. And then you use that once you dig in, you know, once you go start seeing the red thread the commonalities across all the different people you've spoken with, you'll get into what we call the customer insight. So what is it that they're really been looking for? And why did they buy from you, which you can then translate into your brand and the key benefits that you offer,
And your copy and your marketing. And that's, that's where you're using that.
From there, it goes into your messaging, your content copy, it can also help you decide what channels to be on what collaborations to do, etc.
Got it? How many is enough?
Again, I've very precise of business. But I would say I always try to average into just doing eight to 10 Deep Dive interviews already gives you so much depth of information. It's a great place to start.
Now, if you had a crystal ball, where do you see this year going for ecommerce? Do you see it continuing to trend up? Or flattening? Where do you see it going?
Where ecommerce will I think, you know, at the end, people are still going to be buying online a lot. So I definitely see that as a positive for E commerce. People are despite talks of recession, I still see in all this inflation happening and still see a lot a lot of people buying and purchasing and being out and about, I think the couple of things, I sees one this move back. And I love that two fundamentals, I think there's been there was a time was really easy to go online and run your ads get people buying. I see I'm even hearing a lot of ads experts and other people in this space talking about well, knowing your customer. And I love that I'm so happy to start seeing that conversation happening across the E commerce space. So really going back to fundamentals of knowing your customer, and what you stand for as a brand. I think that personal connection is getting stronger after the pandemic, and a lot of other things happening in the world. People do want to be out and really want to feel more connected with people because I think there was a sense of isolation. And I also see the third one is like a lot more experimentation. So we seeing, you know, algorithms changing in the social space. So you know, Tiktok did really well over versus Instagram. At the same time, there's advent of AI, so people are still trying to figure out what is what and what's works for their business. So there I see a lot more experimentation with different or different tools and opportunities.
Now let's change focus and a little bit about you. I mean, how did you get into focusing more on the customer? That seems to be kind of niche?
Yeah, so customer and brand. So I mean, because you can't create a brand if you don't know who your customer is. And I think how I got to that well, over my career, entire career, I've masters in marketing. In business, I've kind of worked in the corporate world, where it was all it's all been from brand management, to marketing to strategy consulting. But in all of those roles it was always core to that is really knowing who your customers and then defining what you stand for as a brand. And as I became an entrepreneur, I had my own online store for a while, I was watching around me as well with all the people and peers. And the one common mistake was still consistently that people just didn't know who they were speaking to, and what they stand for as a brand. And they were going but nobody's responding to my ads, I'm putting out all this content and nobody's engaging with me or for it, nobody's engaging for the level of business I'm at. And when I dug further and spoke to these people, I realized they really just didn't know who they were speaking to. Nobody took the time to do that. And that is a key and fundamental aspect to your business. No matter how much market changes technology changes, knowing your customer is super important. And as your business grows, if you stay on top of who your customer really is, it gives you the opportunity to easily make the changes and pivots and tweaks you need to because markets are going to change and technology is going to change everything and we can't control that. What you what you can control is how you respond to that. So knowing the customer and then defining who you stand for as a brand, I think is one of the crucial things which then feeds into everything else that your growth strategy and plans.
Now I'm curious were there any business books that kind of led you to that point of view or was that just through your own running your own e commerce company and personal experience?
I think it's that part really comes from over my entire experience in my career from corporate to working with scale ups and small business owners. So um, that area there was no specific business books but I a lot of books that inspire me on different areas that have been crucial for me, you know, in just developing myself as an entrepreneur as well.
So I'm kind of a bookworm, what, what are those books?
So I think one of them would definitely be the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene. Brown, one mindset. Definitely, it's a lot about shame and vulnerability and showing up as yourself. And I think what she also talks about lot is showing up as our messy, authentic selves, and how that creates a safe place to be for people to be able to connect with people. And for me, that's as an entrepreneur where business becomes quite personal. I feel like it's its connection with your people with the people you work with connection with your customers is so crucial. And I've also seen that with more of the business owners and leaders and businesses show up as themselves, they're more likely to inspire both customers as well as their team members. And this is something that really keeps inspiring me.
So what are you doing now? What services are you offering your clients to help increase business?
So on the one hand, I work with small business owners, where I'd give my brand mentorship, which is a you have a 12 week option, where we work on the fundamentals of really knowing your vision, your customer, what you stand for, as a brand, and we look at your product portfolio, and then translate that basis on your numbers to a growth strategy. Or you can extend that to a 12 month one, we're after the first three fundamental months, we move into ongoing support from somebody like a head of marketing kind of coaching you and looking into your business with you over those 12 months. And then also work with larger businesses and scale up on the same building blocks, you could say, but then the processes are more custom, depending on the size of business and what they need.
So really on branding and clarifying the message.
Really, yes, but also looking into your marketing plans. Because then I look into after that, and we combine it by looking into numbers and using the insights we gain from customers. What do you stand for as a brand? And then see, okay, what does that mean, in terms of your actual strategy that you need to implement?
Do you have a favorite success story of one of your clients that you could share?
There are a few of them. There is I think there's one that just gave me a recent update recently, and I think that would be she's actually a smaller client who chose to work with me. Normally, I work with clients who are slightly ahead in terms of revenue, but this one had been in business for a few years, she's 50 plus was going into kind of a second career she had retired from the IT and technology industry. And had ventured on to this entrepreneurial journeys making magnetic handmade magnetic jewelry, they actually kind of they actually help you against pains in your body naturally. And she'd been in business like as a hobby for so on the side when she was as she was retiring from her job. And she was barely making probably 1000 or $2,000 a year, which was really shocking to me, given how much effort she was putting in in terms of ads and content, she was doing all the right steps and everything. So we worked through this steps where we really helped I really have to focus on that purpose and vision she has and who that customer is what she therefore stands for as a brand. And therefore what that meant in terms of her product portfolio and the actions she needs to take in terms from a marketing perspective. And recently, within a year, she's already grown to $35,000. So from barely making $2,000 to $35,000. And something that she did not expect. I helped her define some business goals, which we said, okay, let's put a pessimistic, realistic and optimistic because she just could not see reaching the higher numbers. And she actually reached in between her realistic and optimistic goals and despite having to slow down for health reasons. And this has given her the confidence to say, well, if I can do this, then I can reach much further with this business. And that was just inspiring to see how it also changes somebody's life.
So that's the good side what's what's the bad side? What are some problems that sometimes difficult for you to solve for clients?
Um, difficult. There are a couple of them, I think I think the challenge is, is really when people want to see they want to do this work and see really quick results. This is long term work. This is long term work in the sense. This is not like you're going to come in work on your brand. And in 30 days, you're going to see the ROI coming in this is something that you have to consistently implement over a period of time across all your touch points. And then you will start seeing the results both in the customer relationship that you develop. And then obviously in terms of your revenue, but this will take time and to be able to explain that to people I think is definitely one of the hardest, the challenges I face. Having people once they get into implementation to say, to really stick with it. Again, not to say it again keeping that long term vision is that if I don't see You know, this new messaging or work within 30 days, yes, you have to test and tweak as you go along, but not wanting to completely change course complete within a few days or within a month or within two months. So those are two of the things I've seen the most. Yeah, most of the challenges that I see,
Yeah, I can see that and you can, you really have to almost be a therapist to have them continue to implement and continue to believe until it's it's tweaked and have the right messaging.
Yeah, I see brand work is kind of like therapy. And I want people to understand what it entails that it's not just design, really understand, it's a fundamental understanding of your business and customer and the market that you are in actually,
now who's the perfect client to work with you, if they're out there listening, they should give you a call after the after hearing here today.
So I work with small business owners who have you know, at least at least at minimum, like kind of six figures plus, in business, on the one hand, for my coaching work, and they're really purpose driven, the conscious businesses, they do care, they have strong purpose, they care about the people and planet as well. So this is not, they really take that into account in their business as well. So they really want to break profit as well. But it's not profit maximization at any cost. And they're doing all the right things they've done, the traffic, the content, they're making the sales, people buying from them are really happy. And they do become loyal customers, but there's somehow still not getting the level of engagement they need for the level of business they are at. And you will see that they kind of feel like they're hitting the ceiling, in their business. So that's what a small business owners and I would scale up. So also tend to be conscious business owners, but they're larger with teams. And those tend to be like seven, eight or nine figures plus where I think come up with more custom work.
And how can an interested listener, learn more about working with you?
Well, you definitely come to my website businesswithmonica.com. I'm very active on Instagram and LinkedIn. Small business owners tend to follow me on Instagram, and you have larger businesses as well as E commerce experts I really connect with on LinkedIn, and mean, and there's a really handy download about kind of the four types of questions that you can ask your customer, which I've provided the link for so that you can download that and then you lost. So you can actually take some action immediately, as well, as you'll join my email list.
Well, this has been great. Is there anything else you forgotten? You'd like to add? Before we wrap it up today?
I think the main thing I'd like to say is, you know, for me, it's really about also starting to go back a lot of times in E commerce, we're all we're really driven by the numbers, which which is of course important, you know, you need so much traffic to get so much conversion. But let's start going back to adding that personal touch in business and really seeing those customers of yours as as those individual humans and how would you speak with them? How would you engage with them? If that's if, you know, imagine them walking into an actual store, and you had an opportunity to talk with them to start seeing them as again, as those actual humans that are buying from you? And how would you engage them? And how would you help them along the customer journey, you know, and get to know your business brand and products better?
You know, I have a lot of people who've asked me how do I compete with Amazon? And I think that that's really a key to it right there. It is getting to know your customers like only a small business can?
Yes, absolutely. I think that that is such a it's a strength. A lot of people think why are we calling yourself a small business owner, but I think as a small business owner, use that to your advantage. Use it as a strength a lot of people out there saying I do I want to support small businesses. So you can really use that as a strength. And we do that do those steps that don't scale at the beginning. Before you really take that leap and growth further.
Well, that's been great. Well, thank you again for joining us today. Monica.
Thank you so much for having me on.
For listeners. Remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information on connecting with Monica, you will find the links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our podcast Resource Center available a podcast on each click count.com. We have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic and include each of their contact information in case you would like more information any of the services I've discussed during previous episodes. Well that's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing, and I will talk to you in the next episode.