Friday, March 21, 2014

What about me?

Most of my clients work in big organizations. When I ask about differentiating factors, they often cite their degree of customer focus. They describe being customer-centric, improving the customer experience, going the extra mile. 

I guess it’s different in the consumer world. Recently, I’ve had several experiences where the marketing focus seems to be all about “them,” instead of “me,” the consumer.

The most vivid example comes from someone I’ll call Buddha in the Basement. He’s the heating technician who sat himself in front of my furnace as if it were a meditation altar, then yelled upstairs for me to come down and hear his spiel. He tried to upsell me on various and dubious services, expecting to convince me by explaining how much he liked the company.

The spring catalogs are no better. Maybe copywriters have tired of describing how wonderful my life would be if only I bought this season’s fashions. Instead, they write about how much they enjoy the merchandise:
  • “We pull on the Dynamic Skirt when we need to change the dynamic, or simply be dynamic.”
  • “Even when we don’t have salt in our hair or sand on our feet, we can still slip into a summer state of mind with this slip-on.”
  • “We can all use a lift sometimes so we created this strappy racerback tank…”
  • “What we love most about this patchwork is its graphic patterning and warm, sophisticated color palette.”
It’s like the waiter who tries to influence my menu choices based on his favorite foods. A recommendation now and then is nice, but it doesn’t matter if the dish includes things I hate, like cilantro, heavy sauce, or too much garlic.

The customer may not always be right. But if I’m doing the buying, I want to be the one who’s most satisfaction with the transaction. 

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