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What is customer acquisition? The power of a name.

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

I’m fascinated by nominative determinism – the notion that our names can influence our professions or personalities. Usain Bolt, William Wordsworth, Tom Kitchin – to what extent was their path in life even slightly, subconsciously influenced by their name? Is it possible to invert the historical tradition of a a family surname originating from the profession of the bearer (as any Archer, Fletcher, or Mason could testify)?


The ‘Feedback’ column in New Scientist magazine coined the phrase 'nominative determinism' in 1994 and ran a regular column on the subject for a number of years. An academic paper was published in 2002 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitled 'Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore: Implicit Egotism and Major Life Decisions'. The authors found that 'people prefer things that are connected to the self (for example, the letters in one's name)', and are hence disproportionately likely to 'choose careers whose labels resemble their names (for example, people named Dennis or Denise are over-represented among dentists).'


I think that this concept extends into how we choose names in business – for teams, roles, processes, even meetings. The name we chose can have some impact on the outcomes that can be achieved if it has even a modest framing effect on the participants. Those in the UK will be familiar with the ‘Ronseal effect’ – based on the advertising slogan that the best-selling wood stain ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’.


What is customer acquisition?

What is customer acquisition?


Customer acquisition is the combination of activities that a business uses to attract and convert new customers. It can include the work of a marketing function, a sales team, and perhaps even elements of product and operations. It is influenced by the strategic choices made by the board and management team. It also includes the brand and reputation of a business, and the extent to which current customers are wiling to act as advocates and recommend it.


All these teams, individuals and other factors can influence the number of new customers that a business wins over a given period. I believe that using the term ‘customer acquisition’ is a powerful way to make this point and show how counter-productive an organisation’s structure can sometimes be, for example, the myriad ways I’ve seen marketing and sales teams fail to collaborate (including in one case barely being on speaking terms). I prefer to other terms such as 'Go-To-Market' as I think it more readily meets the Ronseal test.


Given its multi-faceted nature, to accelerate customer acquisition, we have to consider both the strategic choices that a business can make, as well as how these translate into day-to-day operations – the people, processes, technology and data - which come together to attract and convert customers. Businesses that can successfully join the dots have the opportunity to create competitive advantage from their customer acquisition efforts.


This is the reason that I describe the work that we do at Coppett Hill as ‘accelerating customer acquisition’. Most of our work involves helping our clients to improve their marketing and sales efforts, to support future growth and improve efficiency. We could describe our services as ‘strategic marketing & sales consulting’ – but we could provide ‘strategic marketing & sales consulting’ and not help our clients to win a single extra customer. So we use the name that best describes what Management teams are looking for and what we aim to achieve – it’s all in the name.


How could you use the ‘power of a name’ in your business? Renaming your weekly meeting to encourage action-orientation? Or even – changing the name of your marketing function to ‘customer acquisition’.


If you’d like to discuss how you can accelerate Customer Acquisition, please Contact Us.


All views expressed in this post are the author's own and should not be relied upon for any reason. Clearly.

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