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Al’s Column: Satisfying the ‘me’ in customer

September 12/19, 2016: Volume 31, Number 7

By Brian Gracon

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMYou know there’s no “I” in “team,” but there is a “me” in “customer.” Customers buy based on “What’s in it for me?” but what are they looking for these days when making their buying decisions?

From luxury cars to gourmet coffee shops, many companies were recession proof and are strong today. These companies used growth strategies based on the new consumer buying habits you can leverage in your business.

Extensive research revealed three strategies fueling much of this growth: 1) help a customer define or reinforce her self image; 2) provide entertainment through your products, services or shopping experience; and/or 3) pamper the customer to make her feel special. By using these same strategies, you can also tap into these new buying habits.

Let’s explore these three strategies in areas where your business influences your customers: marketing, selling and staffing.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-58-12-pmFocus on your customer’s emotional wants and needs. Instead of asking customers to “think hard” about physical features and warranties, invite them to “think soft” about personal and emotional benefits in your marketing efforts.

Check your marketing for an appeal to your target customer’s self image. Make sure you understand which self images those are.

Convey how your offering or customer experience will be fun or easy.

Communicate how you value the uniqueness of your customers and will pamper them. Affirm with customers that they are special, will be treated special and that your offering is special, too.

Audit your current marketing for the three strategies–self image, entertain and pamper. If you are having a difficult time finding any of the lenses in your marketing, that can still be good news. You’ll have many opportunities to improve your marketing and your business.

Your sales process needs to deliver on the customer expectations created by your marketing. The following companies and their sales processes teach us about selling to today’s customers using these three strategies:

  • Entertain: Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle has gained international recognition (and a lot of sales) because employees throw fish around as part of their sales process.
  • Pamper: Lexus of North Miami offers customers complimentary Club Lexus service. Customers can choose an onsite manicure, health club session, massage, pedicure or hair styling while their cars are being serviced.
  • Self image: When you enter a Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurant, every employee in the place calls out “Welcome to Moe’s.” Then they give personal service by customizing the order.

Do you hire, train and coach your staff so they have the skills necessary to provide these customer experiences? When hiring new staff, consider the typical self images of your customers and make sure your staff is comfortable working with those images.

Ask your training providers how they can incorporate these three strategies into their regimens, and make sure the instruction provides opportunities to practice these new skills.

Participate in staff training so you know what they have been trained to do. Then, develop a coaching playbook so you know what to do whether confirming or corrective feedback is needed.

The above integrated set of marketing, selling and staffing strategies can help satisfy today’s customer needs and sell as if you had multi-million dollar marketing budgets.