What can marketing learn from Sisyphus about the importance of retention? Sisyphus, the king of Corinth in Greek mythology, incurred the wrath of the gods and was condemned by Hades to an eternal punishment. His fate involved ceaselessly pushing a boulder uphill in the depths of the underworld, only to have it roll back down each time he neared the top. Thus, he was condemned to an eternity of futile efforts, perpetual frustration, and the inability to achieve his goal.
The story of Sisyphus has been used to illustrate various human endeavors, from the relentless pursuit of power to fruitless quests for diminishing returns. In our case, it serves as a fitting analogy for the challenges faced by marketers in meeting annual revenue growth targets, particularly in terms of the impact of customer retention. In this Sisyphean task, marketing grapples with the constant setback of the boulder rolling back slightly whenever progress is made, symbolizing the continuous repetition of efforts that yield no tangible progress toward the goal.
For companies operating on a one-time-revenue business model, the comparison to Sisyphus is evident and unequivocal. Revenue represents the boulder, and at the end of every year, it rolls back to the bottom of the hill, necessitating a fresh start. In the case of a recurring revenue model, however, marketing’s role becomes less clear. Metaphorically, retention is determined by how far the boulder rolls back, but the precise extent of this regression and the level of effort required to prevent it remain uncertain. In the context of recurring revenue models, the boulder doesn’t wait for the year’s end to descend; rather, it does so continuously, and each time, we lose focus and fail to retain a customer.
As companies transition to recurring revenue models, the management of revenue by opportunity type will shift the focus from demand generation and customer acquisition to engagement, aiming to improve both customer and revenue retention. The retention rate will emerge as a pivotal metric influencing the allocation of marketing resources. Marketing leaders must comprehend the implications that this shift holds for their planning endeavors.
Therefore, I invite you to join me at Forrester’s B2B Summit EMEA 2023, taking place digitally and in London from October 9–11. During the event, I will be delivering a session titled “Are You Terrified Of Retention? Perhaps You Should Be.” This session will delve into the challenges and provide insights into how marketing management should reassess the delicate balance between retention and acquisition, emphasizing how unaddressed retention issues can impede your company’s ability to sustain revenue growth.
To learn more about the Summit, including the agenda and registration details, visit today.