Questioning the either/or mentality of acquisition and retention

Earlier this week, a tweet from Olipop’s Eli Weiss grabbed our attention.

We get the founder’s line of thinking, but this is a false dichotomy. 

Marketing—particularly advertising—is a game of building and reinforcing memory structures, creating mental availability, and putting a brand into a consideration set so that, when a trigger occurs, the brand is recalled and selected over other alternatives. 

Given that, broad-based acquisition efforts don’t just attract new customers; they also reinforce the brand with existing customers. And retention efforts don’t just get existing customers to transact again; they also fuel word-of-mouth growth.

Sure, one may weight more heavily in one direction versus the other. But as we enter a period where hyper-targeted, direct-response advertising becomes more difficult (iOS 14.5), it’s worth thinking about the above paragraph.

Asked simply: If retention can generate new customers, isn’t that worth your attention while you’re focused on acquisition?

Though elements of acquisition and retention may be different, we’d argue they are often more alike than they are different.

This is one of the reasons we wrote previously about the flawed mindset that “retention” creates:

“A retention-focused mindset runs the risk of overestimating a brand’s position in market. It’s defensive in nature, maybe even passive.

A reacquisition-focused mindset, though, forces you to constantly think about how you can deliver a better product, at a more compelling value, in more places. It puts you on the offensive.”

Read the above, think about where the examples fit within your brand’s division of responsibility, and bucket them: Is a better product retention or acquisition? Is distribution retention or acquisition?

The answer is both. Which means, if you’re already doing both, you might as well do so consciously.