Sometimes we just make it so hard for customers to buy from us because we don’t have a clue how to sell to them.
If you have ever heard me speak at a conference, you’ve probably detected that I have a “slight” New England accent. Actually, it is a “Worcester” accent, which is far worse than a Boston accent. I grew up in a small town in northern Worcester County, where many members of my family still live. When I spend time with family there, my wife says that I can go for days without ever pronouncing the letter “R”. I try my best not to let my accent engage when I’m speaking in public, but there are some words that always get me. No matter what I do, “harder” always comes out as “haadah”, so I just say something is “more difficult”.
I bring this up because the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have decided to take advantage of New Englanders collective inability to properly speak the King’s English. To encourage more use of turn signals while driving, something which Massachusetts drivers are loath to do, the state has the following road signs leading into Boston.
In the Massachusetts/New England dialect, this sign translates as Use Your Blinker, which elsewhere means Use Your Turn Signal. “Use yah blinkah” gets your attention and makes you think. It might even get a few more Massachusetts drivers to actually begin using their turn signal when they change lanes.
So what does this have to do with catalog marketing?
I heard an ad on the radio the other day for Smith & Noble, a well-known catalog that sells “window treatments”, where the ad actually used the phrase “window treatments”. Then I got an email from Lands’ End last week advertising a sale on “Footwear”. And every fall, our local Eastern Mountain Sports store has a huge sign out on the road advertising their annual sale on “Outerwear”.
I’m sure there are some consumers that think in terms of buying window treatments, footwear and outerwear. But I think in terms of buying curtains/shades, shoes/boots, and coats/jackets. When I’m running out the door to drive to work, I’m not thinking about “where did I leave my dark green outerwear”, I’m thinking about where I left my “coat”.
This is what happens when we stop thinking like a consumer or our customers. We think instead like a merchant. Because we use the term “outerwear” internally within our respective companies, we forget that consumers are looking to buy a coat. I know from my experience with Datamann’s clients that part of the reason this happens is the simple unwillingness of one department to question the actions of another.
We have to stop being that way. We are being assaulted by competition in every direction. It does not help when we allow dumb marketing to go out to our customers, simply because we are afraid to challenge the actions of other departments within the company.
We have to start thinking again before we start marketing. Moreover, we need to think like our customers, not ourselves. If the Department of Public Works in Massachusetts can do it, so can you.
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by Bill LaPierre
VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics
Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235