Your returning customers are free. But you know there's more.

You know your brand must set the hook and reel them in. But reeling 'em in isn't enough. Unlike fish, your customers are also free to jump ship anytime. Keeping them in the boat is the most important part.

Obviously you need sharp hooks. Your yarns must not snap under pressure. But to keep them on board requires dependability. They stay because they want more of whatever it is you have.

Even when your brand is based on unpredictability (ie - Lady Gaga or Frank Zappa), you must remain reliably unpredictable. Because this is what keeps customers coming back for more.

In the end, those who do the best job of being what they say they are will win. In the end, it isn't the craftiest hooks or the most well-spun stories that win. Because customers keep jumping ship until they find the most consistently compelling value.

Give them what they want and learn to do it everytime. And once you've got the greatest value on the high seas, then you'll know it's time to start sharpening those hooks.