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Put on Your “Consumer Cap”

Rachel Wilkie

Consumer Cap

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to work with a client on conducting a focus group.  While I have done similar research in the past (lovely usability testing, customer surveys, etc.) this experience stood out from the rest. For the first time in a while, I was reminded of how important it is to put yourself in your customers shoes.  To sell successfully, for both B2B and B2C marketers, it is critical to understand what your customers are looking for and how you align to their needs.  Consumers these days are savvy and are seeking the best of everything for the least amount of money. So how can you gain their trust, and ultimately business? Here are a couple tips:

1. Pull Don’t Push

When was the last time you actually enjoyed talking to the pushy hand lotion sales guy that works at the local mall kiosk? Never? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Well, after listening to these consumers talk about products and appealing vs. unappealing presentations - it was clear that they don’t like it either. No surprise there, but what do you do now?  Well, the first thing I would suggest is to stop pushing and start pulling in your customers. In the case of the kiosk guy, he would be better off having catchy signs, free pop and chips sitting out to attract customers.  This way, he could use those tools to reel them in and start a natural conversation. The customer would be in a much better mood, and thus, more receptive to the good ole’ traditional sales pitch.

2. Customers Are Getting Smarter

One of the worst things you can do is insult your customer by using those over used and cliché terms over and over again. Every industry has them, and I am sure you are thinking of them now.  One of the key things pulled out the focus group discussion, was that many of the potential customers didn’t believe exaggerated claims and “incredible” results. They were more likely to make a decision with the solution/product that was honest and upfront and REAL.  So, for your (and your employers) benefit, make sure that the numbers, solutions, promises you tout are a typical experience with your customer.

3. Test , Test, Test

While you can’t always run a focus group for every product and marketing campaign, it is a good idea to see if you could get some opinions before you fully commit to running a 20K + campaign. For example, if you are marketing to middle aged men, don’t have a group of only young woman designing the ad or running the campaign. Get at least the buy-in from a couple of current customers (maybe you know them well or could offer some incentive for their feedback).  For B2B initiatives, ask a client that you have been working with for a long time. While these results may be somewhat bias as they have already purchased, it still could give a lot of insight to your initiative.

I could keep going on, but then what would I write for my next blog post? Hopefully this is a nice reminder of the importance of our customers and their opinions. As marketers, sometimes we think we know best, and that certainly isn’t always the case.