Little white lies are falsities we tell people (and sometimes tell ourselves) that we believe to be benign, harmless. But there are little white marketing lies we tell all the time that may be hurting our businesses:
Little white marketing lie #4: Our customers love us.
By nearly every measure, you can’t support the claim that your customers love you. To understand why, you have to know what characterizes true love:
Love is unselfish and patient. It is slow to take offense and overlooks shortcomings. Love puts the interests of the object of its love ahead of its own interests. Those who love are almost unconditionally faithful to the object of their affection.
If this describes your customers, I want to know where you live and I want to know how I can get me some!
The truth is, customers are self-centered. They are in the relationship for what they are getting out of it. (And why shouldn’t they be?) They are likely to take offense and notice shortcomings. If their interests change, they will go elsewhere. And they are fickle. Most are more than open to the possibility of being wooed by another offer and many welcome any opportunity to experience something new. (Don’t take my word for it, ask the good people in the quiet offices over at MySpace.) It’s as if they’re sitting the proverbial bar, made up and looking hot, just waiting for someone to buy them a drink.
There is a way to get customer love, but it’s going to cost you.
Why? Your customers are never going to put more into the relationship than you do.
You’ll never get more than you invest and your customers will never love you more than you truly love them (at least not for long).
Just as in other relationships, there are some ways to gain and nurture mutual affection:
- Remember the fickle nature of the customer’s love and stay on top of your game.
- Deliver great customer experiences, every time.
- Be intriguing, engaging and provocative.
- Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of discontent.
- Communicate, proactively. Solicit feedback.
- Listen. No, I mean really listen.
- Respond to customer’s complaints, wants and needs.
- Be open to change. Ask how you can change. When your customer tells you you need to change, by all means, change!
- Get help from professionals when you need it.
And maybe most importantly: establish emotional connections – give people reasons to love you.
Tell the story of your business. Tell people why you’re passionate about ‘what you do.’ Talk about your family history and other connections to the community. Tell customers about the good that your business does in the lives of community members and employees. Educate the public about the ways in which your business benefits the local economy, local charities, schools, the arts and other organizations. Align yourself with a local cause and give back.
It’s never about you, it’s always about them (your customers). Don’t fall for the lie that your customers love you, or that they need you even nearly as much as you need them. Instead, stay focused on providing benefits and value to your customers, and focus your marketing on telling customers about how doing business with you makes their lives better.