How Communications Influence Customer Behavior
I received an email this morning from Seth Godin’s blog that resonated with me, and raised the issue of how we train our customers to interact with us. It’s a true phenomenon, and raises important points of how we conduct our marketing communications and the effect they have on our businesses. Here’s the gist, and I’m mostly paraphrasing here. The comments that follow are my own opinion and not Seth Godin’s — at least as far as I know!
If we routinely run last minute sales, customers won’t buy in advance because we trained them to wait.
While I do believe that there is truly a place for discounts and sales, like when we need to clear out overstocked inventory, but if we make it an ongoing practice we’re potentially digging a hole for ourselves that we might not be able to get out of.
I was once hired by a company to fix a problem stemming from a routinely sent discount catalog that took up to 80% off the price of their products. No one was buying unless it was from the discount catalog. The fix was simple. Stop doing that.
If we announce things multiple times, getting louder each time, then we’re setting the expectation that customers ignore the initial announcements.
Repeating messages to our marketplace is important, regardless of what that market is, since a majority of our audience does not pay attention to the first communication. You know that’s the case, because we don’t have open rates of 80%, but rather 20%, or when cold prospecting many times less than that. But if we go out 8, 9, 10 times with the same message and same offer, then we’re fostering lethargy, not action. We don’t need to “yell” over and over again at our prospects for them to take action.
And this leads to Seth Godin’s ending statement:
The way you engage with your customers (or anyone for that matter) trains them on what to expect from interactions with you.
As a communicator, your role is to initiate and lead the interaction with prospects. That’s what marketers do, and the type of customers we generate — and in many ways how they behave — is entirely up to us.
If you’re interested in reading Seth Godin in his own words, here’s his blog.