Can We Treat Our Customers Like Children?

Yep, it’s coming. Christmas.

Sure, right now it’s 93 degrees (in my neighborhood) and Christmas is a whole 156 days away, but I can almost see all of the commercials now. Don’t they start airing some time in September?!? And shortly after, my kids start communicating with every sentence starting with, “I NEED…”

It’s as predictable as the tides. What do you do?

The Child’s Mind And The “Want vs. Need” Paradigm

About mid October, when the kids finally succumb to the hypnotizing din of “New and improved this…” or “Now with 3D and smell-o-vision that,” I stop making lists and start asking two simple questions.

“How many do you actually NEED?”
and “Do you really NEED that… Really?”

“… or is it that you just ‘WANT’ it?”

That usually stops the munchkins mid-sentence like they’re hoping not to be caught for audibly farting. But what it really does is open the door to a more reasonable conversation centered on the “Want vs. Need” paradigm. (No, my kids don’t use the word “paradigm…” yet, but it works…)

The Nightmare Of The Perpetual Christmas And The Ever-Elusive Groovy Doohickey

In the marketing world, Christmas comes on almost a daily basis. Day after day, week-in and week-out, clients approach their marketing teams with stars in their eyes and dreams of some ever-elusive groovy doohickey that’s going to revolutionize the industry. And day after day, week-in and week-out, advertising agencies, marketing boutiques, freelancers and consultants alike accommodate them like Daddy Warbucks on Christmas morning. But should we really?

What would happen if the advertising agencies, marketing boutiques, freelancers and consultants asked one of two simple questions?

“How many do you actually NEED?”

Has the affect of the last 40 ad-hock attempts at knee-jerk marketing been successful? Have you taken the time to let a strategy take hold?  Will another direct mailer or another sales spot on every radio station in the city really make it better?  Doesn’t it eventually all add up to more noise?

OR (my favorite) “Do you really NEED that… Really?”

Too many companies are out there listening to “gurus” preaching on everything from social media and branding to voo-doo for solutions to their marketing woes. Maybe it’s not the next groovy doohickey that your marketing needs.

What would happen if we treated our customers like children? Would they listen?  Would they walk away? Could you do it? Maybe some of you already have (I know some of you and it’s true).

Food for thought…

Keep Cooking (the bravest decisions for your customers – whether they like it or not.)!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

4 Comments
  1. My kids don’t listen very well. Businesses want their marketing heard. I’d say no to treating them to children. Interesting post, Mr. Clark.

    • Hey Josh –

      Just like your children, some “customers” just don’t listen very well. Having their marketing heard is one thing, and I encourage good, strategic marketing. But if they’re constantly coming to you with the latest hot technique or strategy, how do you tell them it just may not be what they “NEED?”

      Somewhere the “Want vs. Need” paradigm should to shift back toward need. Good branding can drive a lot of this, but with the speed of technology and the communication surrounding it, those of us charged with making marketing strategies successful need to make sure the NEEDs are being met.

      So, do we act like strict parents or do we let the kids run amok?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Keep Cooking!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef

  2. Very thought-provoking bloggie, Chef. I suspect the primary element distinguishing your “child-client” analogy from reality is that your children can’t nullify the parent-child contract and stroll on down the street to that hot new parenting agency that’s promising toys by the truckload.

    Then again, it might be beneficial to make those same suggestions to clients that parents so often make to children: Sure, go ahead and runaway. Just don’t come crying to me when you get hungry in an hour.

    By offering a stark and practical summation of the game, the wiser clients realize your methods – while not flashy – will likely yield the best results.

    Anyway, another good post, sir. I especially enjoyed the “groovy doohickey” line. Use to borrow my older sister’s makeup back in high school to cover those up.