How To Not Succeed in Business While Really Trying

How To Not Succeed in Business While Really Trying

The last time I was buying a house, my realtor made a strange pronouncement.

“Owners unsell their own houses.”

The owner of a home I was looking at had bragged, enthusiastically and at length, about one of its features. The problem was that I didn’t like the feature at all, and the more he talked about it, the more I worried about how much trouble it would be to live with and the cost of disabling it.

The realtor, after silently observing, explained later that he much preferred for the owners of homes he was listing to absent themselves while potential buyers visited.

“Owners don’t always get that people have different preferences,” he said.

Smart marketers understand that the same niceties that apply in social interactions apply in your marketing communications.  You don’t want to bore or even drive away your customers by yakking about features or benefits that they have no interest in. I’m not saying don’t stress the positive attributes of your product or service – just remember that benefits can be subjective.

Your customer is much more interested in his or her own needs and preferences than in yours. As Dale Carnegie, one of the first mass marketers, wrote a century ago: “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

If your company’s marketing communications do not consider your customers’ preferences, you will turn them off and send them elsewhere. Maybe they aren’t as price sensitive as you think. Starbucks’ business model, for instance, is hardly about price. It’s obvious that many people are paying $4 not for coffee, but for the experience of relaxing away from home in a pleasant environment.

Listen, ask questions and respond to what your customers tell you. Another thing my realtor did that no other realtor had done was spend time learning about us before showing us anything. He clarified in detail exactly what we did and did not want in a home. Then he didn’t waste my time showing me houses I immediately ruled out, as other realtors have. I greatly appreciated that.

Marketing should be a dialogue, not a monologue, especially in today’s social media world. If customers don’t care about the selling points you are so passionate about, whether in person or on your website, you may lose the sale.

A closing illustration: Yesterday it took me more than a minute – an eternity in Internet time – to download a restaurant’s menu from its site. I almost gave up, persisting only out of curiosity. Finally I opened the PDF to find a menu chockful of ads and graphics. It was a huge 58.3 MB file. Put off by their lack of regard for my time, I decided not to eat there.

Don’t unsell your house.

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter, publicist and co-author of "Marketing: Essential techniques and strategies geared toward results" (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). She enjoys helping businesses sharpen and communicate their marketing messages and the challenge of making complex or technical ideas accessible. Journalism taught her to ask the right questions and to get to the point, scriptwriting taught her to think visually, and writing books taught her patience (but not quickly enough).
Linda Rastelli