Thursday, October 2, 2008

Loyalty advice from Haruki Murakami.

I’ve been reading the memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by the celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami. A good quick read, especially since Murakami writes about two of my favorite personal pursuits, writing and running. (Not to mention the pleasure afforded by an ice cold beer after a long run.)

In one passage, the author touches on a subject I didn’t expect: loyalty marketing. It seems that before becoming a novelist, Murakami ran his own small jazz bar in Tokyo. He tells of learning the following important business lesson:
If one out of 10 enjoyed the place and said he’d come again, that was enough. If one out of 10 was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it the other way, it didn’t matter if nine out of 10 didn’t like my bar. Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like the place really liked it.

It's a point we might ponder when looking at our clients’ business or our own. Is there one customer in 10 who really likes our business? If not, how do we create them? Or if we already have them, how do we get them to spread the word to others?

Tom Rapsas, Creative Director-Writer-Strategist,


  1. Very true. And some good points to ponder.

    Wondering if Murakami mentioned the old adage...that for every person who has a bad (horrible) experience at his bar, five of his or her friends will know very soon.

    Of course, if Murakami treats every one who walks through the door as the "one" customer he wants to keep, the chances of them hating the experience is mitigated, and Murakami has a better chance of having more than 1 in 10 like his bar, and a better chance at a sustainable business.

  2. Tom,
    I share David's viewpoint

    Perhaps its based on an idealized standard
    but I tend to see that if we have a 10% success rate - we also have a 90% indifferent/failure rate

    I don't think brands take enough time to understand why their 10% found value - and what is needed to bring the rest closer. Many will stop as soon as the x% drives the financial target they seek.

    Its part of larger problem where businesses tend to view their programs as 'privileged' money making machines - that they result in a 97% irrelevance (3% success) is immaterial to them. They are only concerned with the current period results and don't take into consideration the cost of irrelevance/annoyance especially with digital media where the cost of distribution is immaterial.

    A wise person once said that the goal of CRM is to have smaller haystacks with more needles.