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How to Take Customers Off Automatic Pilot

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Last Saturday my wife and I went through our normal weekly routine. Grocery store, Wal-Mart run, a nice lunch together, then home to take the dogs for a walk by the lake to watch the ducks. As we were walking I started thinking about how structured our lives had become. Slowly, over time, we create a routine that we perform without even thinking about it. It’s a sort of “automatic pilot.” At the store we often run into the same people; we buy the same brands, at lunch we tend to eat the same things.

I begin to wonder how another grocery, retailer or variety store would go about changing this automatic lifestyle my wife and I created? After all, it’s not like we hadn’t seen advertisements for other retailers, restaurants or grocery stores. We saw the coupons, read the special offers, but when Saturday morning rolls around we simply go on automatic pilot and begin our weekly routine.

I tried to think back to the times we varied our routine. What caused us to alter our otherwise unalterable day? On one Saturday we went to the yearly Garage-A-Rama. It’s like a yard sale on steroids. Building after building of priceless treasures no longer wanted by the owners, but highly prized by a frenzied, buying public.  One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. Did we really need the few things we bought? NO. But, did we have fun and enjoy ourselves? YES, we did.

So how does my lifestyle epiphany help you?

It began to dawn on me that the “hook” to changing our lifestyle was nothing logical like saving money, or time, but the feeling that a particular change in routine would give us. Our weekly routine is comfortable, unchallenging. No need to learn where things are in a new store.

So this Saturday we decided to look at the ads in a whole new way. Yes, we’ll still look for the logical things like sales or bargains. But is there anything fun about a different restaurant? Or something we can combine with our grocery run?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s business, not personal.” When it comes to customers, you better make very sure it’s personal. The experience is just as important as the value received to your customer.

Take a minute to examine the customer’s experience in your own place of business. Has your business become routine? Stale? Are customers seeing the same counters and fixtures in the same place year after year? Employees mouthing the same answers to the same questions in the same way. If the day-to-day work place is mundane for the employees think what it must be like for your customers.

Do your ads convey a fun shopping experience for the customer, or a price battle with competitors? Are they packed with features, but void of benefits? It’s one thing to promise a great experience, but quite another to actually deliver it. Invite your customers to experience a lifestyle change by making a business lifestyle change.

Some Final Thoughts

Start looking at your business in a new way. Not as a day-to-day obligation, but as a new experience. If you do this it will slowly filter down to your employees. Shake things up in a fun way. Throw an employee lunch party for no real reason. Have some fun contests that everyone can excel in.

This atmosphere will slowly filter down to customers as well. They will tell others about your business and slowly lifestyles are changed and customers start showing up. The other positive thing that will happen is, employees that enjoy their work talk about it when they are not working.

This is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Send positive people out in the community to spread the word. The other great thing to think about  —none of the things I’ve mentioned will increase costs, unless you want caviar at your employee party. On the contrary over time these suggestions will greatly improve your bottom line.

For more tips like this visit Tom Egelhoff’s Small Town Marketing Web Site. Click Here.

Follow Tom on Facebook. Click Here.

 

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