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Ask Mr. Marketing
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Screwiest conversation of the week

Recently I visited Rancho Bernardo to deliver a package. My friend’s office is a PO box at a storefront, and I forgot the address amidst the holiday hubbub.

Fortunately, I had the right shopping center. With only two such stores to choose from, I had a 50/50 shot of finding it. Naturally, my first guess was wrong, leading to this conversation:

ME: Does Jane Jones get her mail here?

CLERK: How would I know?

ME: Um…check your customer list?

Recognizing I had the wrong location, I entered Store B to have this conversation:

ME: Does Jane Jones get her mail here?


No computers. No lists. Just four employees nodding, leading me to three conclusions:

  • I must pay more attention to addresses I’m traveling to;
  • Jane is memorable;
  • Store B knows its customers much better than Store A does

And there it was, in a nutshell — the key to business success.

Advertising executive David Ogilvy observed: “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife.” It’s a lesson the folks at Store A would be wise to remember.

Because customers know when they’re valued and also when they’re just numbers in a ledger. Store A’s team doesn’t know their clientele unless they see their name on a list.

Store B, however, knew their customer without hesitation. They obviously know Jane (who is memorable), but I’ll venture a guess they know all their customers.

This means they’ll notice if Joe or Sam doesn’t show up for a while. They’ll probably even reach out to make sure everything’s okay.

But I’m betting the other guys wouldn’t notice until a mailbox overflowed or an invoice remained unpaid.

Recognize that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applies in business. Because despite anything you’ve read, customers want to be treated like real people.

Furthermore, given a choice between someone just wanting my money and someone who actually knows (and cares) who I am, I’m going to go for the latter option every time.

And I’m not alone!

As you’re considering how to grow your business over the coming year, take some time to get to know your customers one-on-one. They’ll appreciate it, and you (and your bottom line) will be richer for it.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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