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Care about your customer’s dreams and they’ll care about you
Making a promise to a customer is a big deal. It reassures them they can trust you with something they need because you’ve understood what they want.
Your customers don’t want your product, they want the realisation of a dream.
Take this advert. Nescafe isn’t selling coffee to any old person, they’re gifting a promise to me.
The imagery, colours, and music are all about the promise. It’s a copywriter‘s dream of an advert. I watched it and became that girl. That was my car, my break-up, my denim jacket. Most of all, that was my sunrise.
Nescafe was selling me liberation
I didn’t know this at the time. All I knew was that I needed a “car kettle” immediately and my shopping legs were desperate to hit the shops. I searched high and low for weeks until I found it. There was no Amazon back then.
I justified it to myself. My boyfriend was studying in Cardiff and a girl needs coffee on a two-hour drive down the motorway. Besides, think about how handy it will be on picnics!
In the years since then, my boyfriend has turned into my husband, our picnics have been comfortably enjoyed in restaurants, and I’ve yet to remove the gadget from its packaging. The dream’s still real though. I have no idea who made or sold that car-kettle but I’ll be loyal to Nescafe forever.
We’re a marketer’s dream
It’s so easy for a clever copywriter/marketer to part us with our money. All they have to do is conjure up the right aspirational emotions and money jumps from our wallets into theirs.
We’re a business’s nightmare
When the promise doesn’t work out, we complain, if not to the business directly, then to others. The internet makes it so easy.
This was a packet of potatoes from the supermarket. The packet said 700g, the kitchen scales said 508g.
I had three packets of potatoes, all underweight. Maybe the gods were trying to stop me cheating on my diet, but the supermarket apologised and refunded anyway. They told me about a problem in their supply chain and explained how they were fixing it. They wanted me back as a customer.
The supermarket understood I brought the potatoes because I wanted a meal but I needed 700g (the promise is reliability.) They maintained that promise through their after-care.
Worse is a high ticket item that you can’t replace with rice or bread when the promise doesn’t materialise. Say, an online course.
I take a lot of online courses – it’s a crucial and easy way for the self-employed to stay fresh and keep up with emerging technologies and methodologies.
There’s one course I took last year that came with a four-figure price tag and promised a great deal. It also had a money-back guarantee supporting a very desirable promise upon certification.
Sadly they fell short on the promise. Even more sadly, they made no attempt to fix or explain any issues. They processed my refund without a fuss. 100 days after certification. 8 months after I signed up.
You don’t want this to happen in your business.
It’s not good business practice to be paid a huge sum in March, only to have to give the whole thing back in November because you made promises you couldn’t keep.
Build a Relationship With Your Customer
Cover your ego for a second, because here’s a secret.
Your customer doesn’t care about you. They’re after your promise.
Even if you’re “internet famous,” all you’ve got is an edge in marketing and the credibility to charge more. You still need to build and maintain a quality relationship with your customers.
Here are some powerful ways to do this.
1) Listen to honest feedback
Provide anonymous routes to gather feedback from current customers. Surveys at key milestones are a good way to do this. You’ll find out things people won’t risk telling you if their name’s attached.
2) Address a concern before it becomes a problem
Before I claimed my guarantee, I’d sent emails and posted about my worries on their members-only group. Sadly my concerns, issues, and questions were never addressed. Nobody ever contacted me to ask what could be done to make it better.
Most people don’t want to use a guarantee. They want you to deliver a promise. They voice issues in a polite way and they want you to notice and do something about it.
Ignoring something when it’s still small means that you’re on your way to losing (refunding) a lot of money later, and possibly losing that customer for life. It leaves an after-taste.
3) Don’t exaggerate your marketing
With clever copywriting, marketing, and packaging, you can sell anything to anyone. But you don’t need to do this. Both you and your customer will be happier when your marketing targets people who are a good fit for your product.
If someone’s building a house and you’re selling red bricks, you’ll be doing a lot of refunding if your marketing attracts people building log cabins.
4) Make your money-back guarantee unnecessary
“Guarantee” is an authoritative word that makes people feel safe in the transaction and encourages them to part with their cash. But in personal services, such as coaching, people find it hard to claim on a guarantee because they don’t want to come across as difficult or look bad in your eyes.
Don’t be the business that takes advantage of this trait. Of course, you don’t want to give refunds. So, make a business where people are too happy and satisfied to need your guarantee, not one where they’re too intimidated and guilty to use it. You won’t get referrals.
Enjoy Your Customers
All businesses need clients to survive. Businesses are people. So are customers. We’re all as mad and as flawed and as clever as each other.
We all thrive when the promise fits well.
Nescafe promised me liberation and that’s what I got. I’ve never used that car kettle and probably never will, but it’ll never end up on eBay.
Why would I sell liberation?