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. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Winter? My Bad

I’m headed toward the light.

With Daylight Saving Time this weekend and spring officially two weeks away, longer days are already evident and my spirits are on the rise.

This winter has been a record-breaker. For some, it was a back-breaker.

In Philadelphia and elsewhere, there has been more snow more often and with more variety than ever I can remember: snow storms, ice storms, even thundersnow.

For this I say, I’m sorry. It’s my fault.

Years ago, after a three-foot snowfall, I bought a snow rake for the roof. It was supposed to prevent structural and water damage from heavy snow and ice dams. Because I was so well prepared for the next big snow, it didn’t snow at all, or maybe just a dusting, for the next several years. I ended up refitting that snow rake as a long-handled window washer to reach the second floor.

My friends have stopped inviting me to cross-country ski weekends in the mountains because whenever I show up, the trails are bare and there’s no snow in the forecast.

Well, this year I took the hint. I refused to buy snow tires for my car. I didn’t even look at new winter coats. I gave away old thermal undershirts that had been clogging my drawers.

Then winter hit, with a vengeance.

I can only express my sincere apologies. And promise that next year, I’ll be better armed to deal with ice and snow and sleet and freezing temperatures. I'll get snow tires, replace old snow shovels, polish up my skis, and buy all-weather boots.

That should be just the trick for ensuring a mild and enjoyable winter for all next year.

You’re welcome.