It’s a wonder you’ve managed to sell as much as you have. Your customers have got issues. They’re illogical, impulsive weirdos.
Why? Because your market demographic, no matter how “niche” you might be, is made up of the wider group of freaks we refer to as “humanity”. Crazy people.
Yet entrepreneurs continue to act as if their customers are part of some large group that can be predicted, rationalized and plotted on graphs.
Here’s a story that’ll prove to you why your customers are crazier than you realize…
Last week, I was standing in the waiting room of a large corporation in downtown Sydney. The distinct sound of “squee” made me turn around to observe a group of gorgeous admin staff simpering over the water cooler guy. My jaw dropped to the floor. He was bearded with bad tattoos – the tigers, dragons and eagles kind.
Then I realized, he wasn’t better looking or more interesting than me! He was carrying a water cooler tank and a handbag dog. You know the kind? The little rat yappers that some women use as spouse replacements.
(Side note: Absolutely no bitterness here – this is a legitimate and concerning psychological FACT. No bitterness at all…)
I went over to investigate and, in a failed effort to distract the women, got talking to the guy. I found out that the dog was actually the “company mascot” – apparently Fido went on all the deliveries.
The guy muttered in my ear a startling confession that’s had me grinning ever since. It’s brilliant…
See, the water cooler company actually buys these dogs and pairs one up with each of their delivery guys. They know that admin staff at their client’s offices will just melt whenever puppy arrives with a water top-up.
It’s their customer retention strategy.
The office supplies industry is cut-throat. Every supplier is competing in an over-crowded market, racing their competitors to the bottom of their profit margins through aggressive discounts.
They all compete with “cheap because they have to! It’s business to business sales and everyone knows that corporations are ruthless and cold… like cost-cutting, dividend-centric robots!
Big enterprise doesn’t make emotional buying decisions like when you and I buy stuff in the consumer world. They don’t care how anyone feels – it’s all about the bottom line! If you want to sell to corporates you better be able to demonstrate solid ROI, every time.
Except the times when those corporations are staffed by people… Those people, they change the equation. And those people? They’re crazy people.
We’re talking about people who’ll ignore offers for cheaper water-coolers, just to make sure that they get to play with a puppy for five minutes a week. After all, it’s the faceless company who picks up the bill…
We’re talking about people so crazy that they’ll do the thing that makes them feel good, rather than the thing that makes sense.
Crazy people buy…
- Gym memberships (or equipment) and never use it because they feels healthier the moment they pay.
- Fair-trade Organic because they feel morally absolved or guilt-free or whatever.
- Anti-aging moisturizing facial scrub with microspheres because it feels younger than regular soap.
- Online info products and never action the tips, because they feel more successful the moment they sign up.
- Therapy, because talking about their problems feels better than doing something about them.
The water-cooler guys are not in the business of selling water. They’re in the business of selling fluffy joy – with a delivery excuse that the bored corporate administrators can justify to the boss.
When it comes to customer retention, the dog strategy is absolutely unstoppable. Because offices do need water, but the supplier decisions are made by people who love dogs. By selling joy and water (but only for the price of water), these guys are out-foxing the competition.
Could you make the decision to banish Rex (and his water-bearing handler) from your office… even if it meant saving the company a few bucks?
Didn’t think so.
People are crazy and your customers are no different. They don’t just buy things, they buy feelings.
If you want to attract and retain vast numbers of customers, make sure you’re selling both. Think creatively about how to give your people more of what they truly want.
A customer will never verbalize their true desire. Hell, they won’t even admit it to themselves. The office staff didn’t expect the water-cooler guy to solve their lack-of-puppies problem.
The water-cooler company did it anyway, without asking. Now they reap the rewards.
Fulfilling the emotional wants of your customers is a blank slate begging for innovation. The entrepreneurs who figure out creative ways to do this, win. Big time.
Here’s what I want to know from you: What do you sell? And, what do you really sell?
What is the poodle to your water-cooler?
Let me know by leaving a comment…