Ohio SBDC - Free Expert Business Advice

Focus on Your Customer’s Experience Not Your Product…

Last month I was asked to sit down with another Advisor’s client to review their holiday marketing collateral and make suggestions to improve the design. On first glance there were several key changes that could be made to improve the design as well as the probability of getting the desired result of more holiday business. But predominately the element needing change that stuck out most was the one that was missing… the customer!


Like most small business owners we advise, this client was passionate about his product. So passionate that it’s all his marketing materials talked about: the product features, its gadgets, and its glamour shots. This is great information for stakeholders but only equates to part of the consideration made by the customer as to whether or not to buy. Today having a quality product and being truthful about its performance and deliverables is the customer’s minimum level of expectation. What sets you apart is your ability to tap into the customer’s desire not just for your product or service but for the experience.


Case in point: My daughter is a huge fan of a major American retailer’s casual clothing line. There is a store 15 minutes from my house and one 35 minutes away. Nine times out of ten we chose to drive to the store 35 minutes away. Why? Because at this store we are valued and they go out of their way to make sure from the moment we step in that store to the moment we leave that we FEEL it.  We are greeted, informed of sales, offered assistance with carrying our selections, and even appropriately fitted. Here I’m not the one running back and forth to the sales floor for different sizes, it’s all handled by the sales floor staff. We leave with a friendly good-bye, purchases in hand, relaxed, and feeling appreciated. And the store rests happily with the ridiculous amount of money I left behind in their cash register. It’s a win-win for all.


Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we receive horrible service at the closer location; on the contrary, we receive the expected service. The store is open, its clean, has most of the product we want and the staff is knowledgeable. But it’s not our preference. Here there is nothing special, nothing that separates them in terms of service and nothing that makes us want to choose to shop at their location other than convenience: Translation… There’s nothing here that makes US, the customer, feel special or provides us an experience different than shopping any other retailer.  


So, what’s your take away? That Tonya wants to feel special? Yes, this is true but not what I mean here.  I want you to remember and incorporate two things into your marketing strategy:


1. See your customer as a person and not just a consumer to be conquered and won.

Your product is fabulous. You’ve researched and worked to ensure it is superior to all others. But that is still not enough to make the customer buy your particular product or service. Engage your customer, ask about their needs, preferences, and experience with your product or service, really listen to their feedback, learn from it and respond accordingly. Create a relationship with your customer. Make sure your product or service addresses their needs and shows them how it will make their life better. Remember customers buy products and service to fulfill a need or desire not merely to collect products and services so focus on their need and desire.

2. Focus your marketing message on your customer’s experience with your product or service, not solely on the product or service.

How can you provide an experience that impacts your target customer emotionally and that makes you memorable? How can you take the experience your customers have when purchasing your product or using your service to the next level? Do you sell athletic gear? That’s good. Do you sell athletic gear and provide an in store climbing wall for them to tryout your product? That’s great and that’s an experience that takes you to the next level! Another example? Think Disney*…. Disney’s not selling resorts, cruises, or amusement parks; they are selling memories with your family that will last a lifetime*. And yes, I’m a marketer, I know what tactics they’re using and they still hooked me. Because they deliver and provide the experience promised.

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