Are you wrongly judging your customers?

Aspire Magazine article image

Aspire Magazine article image

On my way to gym I decided to drop in to one of my favourite clothing boutiques. I was looking for a dress for an event. I needed help and watched two sales assistants ignore me and walk past.

I grabbed two dresses and helped myself to a dressing room. I came out twice to look in the only mirrors available, outside in the store, and still staff ignored me. In the meantime I noticed one of the girls helping a well-dressed lady who arrived after me.

The sales assistants had seemingly assumed I wasn’t their ideal client as I was in gym clothes, no make-up and had my hair pulled in a ponytail. I was, in fact, one of their VIP customers, a repeat buyer! I have never returned.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as judgmental, but, fact is, we do make assumptions on our first impressions. But should I, as a potential or existing customer, be worrying about how I look and act to impress you for my money and/or time?

The sales and marketing industry is about getting you to focus on targeting your message to your ideal customer. Assumptions are relied on within market research and demographics to decide on where you should invest your marketing budget.

But, let’s twist this all around. How about instead of judging your customers, you open your mind and assume the following:

  1. I am your ideal customer
    Sometimes the prospects you least expect are the ones willing to pay for your product. I won’t always fit into your marketing statistical analysis.
  2. I have marketing influence
    Whether I’m your ideal customer or not I will be marketing your business on how you treat me. Let’s face it; I deserve respect whether I purchase your product or not.
  3. My time is more important than yours
    We’re all busy and, yes, running a business adds to the workload that few can appreciate. But, if you want me as a customer, you need to make me believe I have your full attention and time. I don’t want to feel like I am a burden or I should be grateful.
  4. I don’t know your industry or product
    Don’t be arrogant, trying to look more intelligent than your competitors – they are not your customers! Remove your industry jargon and explain in simple, human terms how you can assist my needs. I don’t want to feel stupid or that I need to do homework before I purchase
  5. I’m watching you
    I notice when you smile and when your yell. I notice how you treat others. In fact, notice everything you do. Always assume your customers are watching you because they probably are.

We, humans, are visual creatures and it can be hard to not judge a book by its cover. But, in business, wrongly assume I’m not your ideal customer and you may as well visualise me walking over to your competition.

The customer isn’t always right and you can, indeed, pick and choose who you do business with. But do so with your eyes wide open and not on first impressions.

This article first appeared in Aspire Magazine, April 2013

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 9, 2013 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Megan, I was told by a mentor of mine. “Treat every person in business like they are worth a million dollars to you… Because one day they may be”. Thanks for a great article and reminding us all that even with the best marketing in town. If we don’t treat our customer or potential customer with the respect they deserve. We may as well throw our marketing dollars out the window. Customer service is critical. Thanks @cameronupshall

    • Megan Barrow
      Posted June 9, 2013 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      Thanks Cameron for the lovely comment. I am always surprised when businesses don’t value their customers & clients. You can have the best marketing strategy in the world, but it won’t work if you can’t deliver on it and have consistently happy customers.

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