Marketers love re-targeting, and it’s a pretty natural, if misguided, instinct. This person bought something, or looked at something, they seemed happy enough about buying it, so let’s not let the party end without getting them to buy even more. We all experience it as consumers. Spend a few hundred dollars on a new phone, pick up all of the standard, relevant accessories, and there’s still no chance you’re making it to the exit door without getting bombarded with very special offers.
As a consumer, I can’t help wondering why they don’t make those offers before I make the big purchase. As a marketer, I know exactly why. It’s about the up-sell, and the perceived chance to keep me coming back for more. If a few customers are angry enough about aggressive sales practices to switch brands, who cares? As long as the numbers check out at the end of the month, it’s just the cost of doing business.
Why Moments Matter and How to Capture Them
Ever experience one of those moments that crystallizes why you believe what you do? People who know me know that I’m a divorced dad. I have had to fight to keep my daughters in my life, and #ThisDadWontQuit! So I’m out to dinner alone with only one of my girls… just dad/daughter and not two-on-one. For the first time probably because her sister isn’t there to listen, she starts talking to me about boys, and she’s telling me about the code names she and her friends give to the boys at school… they call them by colors so the boys don’t know who they are talking about. After all that I’ve read and said about the importance of listening, I knew this was a time to keep my mouth shut.
It was this beautiful, amazing moment that ended just as quickly as it began when the waitress slapped the check down onto the table. Long story short, we got home, I waited for her to finish a phone conversation with a friend, and I made the “dad re-targeting” error of bringing up the conversation from earlier. But the moment was over, and the look I got said so very clearly.
I went for the up-sell, and it backfired. Marketers do this all the time with customers, and they don’t look at the consequences. So what I did was immediately learn a lesson, and never did that again with my daughter. I took what I learned from that moment, that very important, valuable data, and I saved it for another moment when it was relevant.
Listen, Learn, and Apply
If you’re a marketer, you save that data for the next time they come in the store, rather than hitting them with it on the way out. Okay, I remember that you purchased this item last time. How did you like that, and is there anything we can do to improve on it? Use the memory of that prior moment in an unobtrusive way that shows you remember the customer, care about their needs, and wish to continue building on the relationship.
You can’t learn without listening, and the lessons you learn are only valuable if you put them to work. For instance, several months after the “color-code” conversation with my younger daughter, I’m with my girls in Mexico and – for all the dads out there – my teenage girls are totally ignoring me… don’t want to swim, hang out–nothing. Finally, my older daughter basically screams at her sister to leave her alone… so Niki asks “me” to come in the water with her.
Inside, I’m bursting with glee. I wanted to jump up and down. But I very coolly said, “Sure honey, if you want me to come in the water with you.” We got in the water, and I’m trying to act incredibly cool like this is no big deal. Then, out of nowhere, she starts talking about boys using their code names. Rather than forgetting the old conversation, I dug into my database and made some comments about “orange”. You could see the spark in my daughter’s eye. She knew in that moment that I really was listening to what she had to say all those months ago… and that I cared enough now to jump back into the conversation.
To me, those are the real moments, and as marketers, we need to watch for them to know when they’re happening. We need to create a landscape that empowers people to have those moments with us, and then build on those moments without trying to turn them into a quick sale.
I’m thankful that my daughters have given me many teachable moments—and those lessons have served me well both personally and professionally. I hope you’ll take this one to heart when you’re planning your marketing strategies. The more you concentrate on the relationship versus the sale, the better off you’ll be.
This first appeared on Ted Rubin.