Errand complete. As I grabbed my credit card and reached for the cart handle I heard my name. “Hi, Mary Ellen.” (Again.) “How are you today?”
“Do I know you?” I thought furiously. My brain scanned memories for an association. Nothing. “She could be familiar,” I thought. Still nothing. “She looks like…” I forced myself to turn off the mind camera and focus on the words.
“Have you and Harris considered our Executive Membership?”
Bingo. Salesperson. Red flag: privacy.
A two-inch square screen on a machine like a tape dispenser
displayed my name, my husband’s name, our account number and the amount we’d spent in Costco year-to-date.
As a marketeer, I frequently urge business owners to capture information from their customers. Now, as a consumer, I faced the privacy issue square on.
Conflicted? Where do you stand on the issue?
Marketing to customers means getting and keeping attention in an information-cluttered, time-starved world. Fortunately, for savvy advertisers who think through their product, its unique selling proposition and the target audience, options remain. Case in point: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Advertising any destination involves targeting travelers. My husband Harris and I stopped for breakfast last Sunday morning at a Denny’s Restaurant in T or C, as it is affectionately called. The placemats caught our attention. Each mat offered a map, including a legend for places of interest in Sierra County and touted Truth or Consequences, America’s Most Affordable Spa Town.
A few notables:
- The unusual specialty item got my attention.
- Cute – not your run-of-the-mill presentation.
- Its unique presentation caused me to look more carefully at an area with which I had familiarity.
- As my husband and I waited for breakfast, we studied the map and discussed a couple of sites that we planned to visit.
- The children at the next table colored the map.
- I took an extra map home, fully intending to discuss it on my blog.
- A phone number and website made additional research easy.
Documentation told me that this was a project of the Sierra County Recreation & Tourism Advisory Board and was paid for in part by T or C Lodgers’ Tax with partial funding by Rural Economic Development Through Tourism.
Would I make suggestions? Excuse the rhetorical question, because I can’t help myself. In my opinion, since the map featured the tagline “America’s Most Affordable Spa Town,” I suggest that the legend also include a number of spas. In addition, the graphic artist received credit in the footer; in spite of three calls that I made, I didn’t get his number. Had we talked, I’d have requested a jpeg of the item so that my readers could join the discussion.
If you’re so inclined, think about a specialty item that you’ve seen and tell me how it helped showcase a product for customers. Post your comments here; I welcome all input; the slight delay in showing your post happens because I monitor postings to prevent spam.
Most entrepreneurs identify a target of sorts, typically a category of business. Then, satisfied that they have covered target marketing, the thoughts turn to physical elements such as the logo, the tag line, and so forth.
Narrowing the target takes research and input from the customer. Broad targets take away the fear of missing an important segment of the audience. Sometimes, even if the target is well planned, other people can raise doubts and create obstacles.
One 50-something entrepreneur I know took her business plan to the bank; she’d invested more than $100,000 of her own monies and needed additional capital for manufacturing. The banker, a young MBA argued with her about the target. “I’m afraid you’re missing the boat,” he said. “Young urbanites with kids are a better target; there are more of them.”
My friend explained that her feedback had indicated the primary purchaser was a 53-year old boomer grandparent. She pointed out that the younger audience, when surveyed, used price as a reason not to buy. Because her customers said differently, she refused to change the plan.
The discussion resulted in no loan. Each person thought that they were right in their stance. Of course, if the banker were wrong – and even if he provided the loan – he would simply be wrong. The entrepreneur would still be out the time and money.
Incidents like this remind entrepreneurs to target carefully, review customer feedback often, and be prepared to defend challenges to assumptions. When a stakeholder, such as a banker, challenges your critical assumptions, are you prepared to defend your premises?
If you’re into thinking about business from the financial standpoint, you might enjoy looking at the recent Carnival of Financial Planning which caused me to think further about banking, target markets and entrepreneurship.
Read the posting here.
The challenge of friends can be subtle. That’s the fun part. Take my friend Mary Schmidt. One of the clever ways she checks on me and my blog is to call upon Albuquerque bloggers (and me by first name) to list blogs that make you think. What’s more, Mary does this on a Friday evening. So, with apologies to the time police, I’m saluting Opinionated Marketers and their posting on networks.
All too often, we fly through a networking event and collect cards with no real connection to any of the people we just encountered. It’s my experience as a former radio advertising manager that a flurry of friends come out of the woodwork when a big concert comes to town. Another friend creator in that past life was the movie premiere, the sponsored baseball game, or the free tickets to the fair. For the most part those people never called after I ceased to have a title that was of use to them. Interesting, isn’t it, the turns that life takes?
On the other hand, some people introduce you to their passion and continue to check in. The process builds a bit of an emotional bank account – if you read John Whiteside’s comment, then you know what I mean. As a presenter, I call this high content. As a customer, I consider it value. As a professional, I believe it’s a way of life: under promise, over deliver.