The Five Keys to Consumer "Cash-Actualization"

First Published:
July 1, 2017
Digital Marketing
John Lenker

In this Article

  • Understanding "cash-actualization" as a primary business goal
  • Grasping the five keys to unlocking customer potential
  • Recognizing the difference between the sales process and the learning process


When it comes to marketing, there are those who fail to understand that our primary goal as business owners is to “cash-actualize” our consumer base. What does “cash-actualize” mean? It’s similar to the concept of self-actualization, an idea popularized by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1950s.

Maslow put forth the notion that all humans have a fundamental hierarchy of needs. To paraphrase a little, these needs progress from base physical needs (like sleep or food) all the way to high-level needs, such as creative self-expression and self-reflection. According to this model, the needs at the bottom of the hierarchy must be satisfied before an individual can progress towards attaining self-actualization—”a state in which people are at their very best.

When individuals pursue self-actualization, they invest their time, energies, passions, and resources into obtaining “keys,” which they believe will unlock progressive states of personal perfection.

It’s the same with consumer cash-actualization.

When businesses pursue consumer cash-actualization, they invest their time, energies, passions, and monies into fulfilling their five key management responsibilities, which unlock progressive states of consumer-relationship perfection. The cash is simply the barometer that measures the degree to which the investment is working. We call this measurement Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

The degree to which we’re able to achieve customer cash-actualization is directly proportional to our abilities to grasp and execute our five key management responsibilities in order to unlock the potential of our respective consumer/client/member/subscriber (hereafter “consumer”)  bases and maximize their lifetime values.

The 1st Key: Attract Attention

Do you know someone who has the power to mesmerize others? What about someone who is always trying to get themselves noticed? There’s a difference between the two. A mesmerizer doesn’t try to attract attention; a mesmerizer is simply attractive—whether it's personality, skill, charisma, knowledge, or some other quality, people can’t help taking notice. This mesmerizing quality plays upon subtle dynamics related to human perception and cognition. In order to mesmerize, it’s important to have an understanding of these dynamics.

If we believe that what we offer is competitive, but somehow people aren’t taking notice, we mustn’t react by becoming the obnoxious business in the market-space that’s clearly trying to get attention. Instead, we must learn how to transform our businesses into the self-aware, attractive competitors that our audiences can’t stop watching.

The 2nd Key: Convert Prospects

“Before people can be effectively influenced, they must first believe; to believe, they must first understand; to understand, they must first be effectively informed.”

In order to successfully convert prospects into consumers, our businesses must first provide our audiences with something valuable and relevant—even if it’s merely deeper insight into understanding their respective situations and needs. It’s vital to understand, therefore, that when prospects encounter our brand’s messaging, they’re trying to learn something from us. The problem is that because most of us don’t understand how people learn, we’re typically not very effective “teachers.”

The evidence that things are amiss is that even when people do momentarily take notice of our business’s marketing messages, not enough of them are compelled to take any kind of action.

The solution is to learn how to effectively inform our prospects by using our creativity and the substance of our messages to guide them into comprehension of our marketing messages so that they’re inspired to exchange value and enter into a transactional relationships with us.

The 3rd Key: Maximize Revenues

In the “olden days” of sales and marketing, businesses tried to maximize revenues by selling as much “stuff,” as often, and at the highest levels of profit margin as possible. In other words, the strategy was to try and squeeze as much money as possible out of every consumer, while expending as few resources as possible.

Today we live in an era when consumers have more choices than ever. In this new reality, therefore, the pathway to maximizing revenues, lies not in endeavoring to “push more stuff,” but in continuously finding ways to add more value to our consumers lives by helping them solve their problems and by meeting their needs more frequently, comprehensively, and seamlessly than competitors are able to do.

If our consumers are not taking regular and full advantage of the products and services our businesses offer, it’s likely time to reevaluate our entire approach to the marketplace. The focus must be on identifying real needs that genuinely exist, and on formulating and marketing solutions that actually meet those needs better than any competitor. The more complete our solutions are and the more we’re able to lead our consumers through a compounding series of “solutions,” the more likely we’ll be to not only maximize revenues, but also—and more importantly—to maximize consumer satisfaction.

The 4th Key: Minimize Expenses

There are three dimensions to minimizing your marketing expenses: 1) do the right things for the right people at the right times, 2) don’t waste money on initiatives that are not strategically designed to resolve the actual situation within which we find ourselves, 3) don’t formulate your plans based on the advice of vendors whose compensation is based on the number and complexity of the projects they sell you to “solve your problem.”

If we’re not meeting our own overarching business goals, it's natural to feel a sense of urgency wherein we’re compelled to take some action in order to move our business in the right direction. It’s at this stage that most businesses make a critical mistake.

In desperation to solve own business problems, we often forget that what gets us into bad situation in the first place is that we failed to adequately help our consumers solve their problems and elevate their own situations as a result of leveraging what it is we offer. If, therefore, we attempt to formulate a marketing strategy that’s “our needs-oriented,” instead of consumer-needs-oriented, we’ll be doomed to repeat history.

The good news is that if we put satisfying consumer needs at the center of our intentionality, our sales and marketing efforts will never be misguided and we won’t needlessly waste resources. What’s more, if we partner with vendors whose compensation is based on giving sound advice rather than on “selling you more stuff,” you’re much more likely to identify the right marketing targets and land on them.

The 5th Key: Retain Consumers

Most of us small business owners understand that retaining existing consumers is far less expensive than converting new prospects, and that a high churn rate seriously jeopardizes a business’s viability. We also understand that the secret to high retention is to offer perceptibly higher value than competitors offer. We ostensibly, therefore, alway set out—at least in theory—to retain as many of our existing consumers as possible.

Despite these understandings, however, the businesses that struggle to execute on value generally do so because they don’t tap into their market’s underlying motivations—such as the need for alignment with fundamental values or the desire for substantive experiential engagement. As a result, consumers often discontinue the utilization of our respective products and services because we fail achieve sufficient presence in consumers’ minds such that engaging with our businesses becomes familiar, enjoyable, and addictive.

In order to truly retain consumers, we must win their hearts and minds by digging deep into the core of who comprises our market—and uncovering how they’re truly motivated. That way, we’re able to determine how our business should evolve in order to offer and market products and services that satisfy both surface and underlying needs. We should strive to become a necessity in our customers’ lives, not a passing fancy.  

Understanding the Five Keys to Cash-Actualization Prepares you for Success in your Marketspace.

Marketing does its job best when it fulfills the fundamental challenges faced by every business: to attract attention, convert prospects, maximize revenues, minimize expenses, and retain customers. Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, these fundamental challenges must be met—in order—to most effectively drive success for our business ventures.

The key is to understand that, in this age where marketers espouse the notion that “the consumer is the product,” we must place at least equal emphasis on the reality that “information is the product.” With that framework, we see that consumers are not engaged in a “sales process,” but rather in a “learning process.” The smartest marketers are those that most successfully help consumers learn about themselves. Through their purchasing behavior, consumers are reinforcing what they either objectively or intuitively know about themselves and their identity. Effective communications strategies present a stream of messages that persistently resonate with consumers and are therefore influential over their purchasing behavior.

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