Your Customers Know More than You Do

I receive a “newsletter” (from UK) called the Wise Marketer and a recent issue outlined something that brought flashbacks:
            Customers are human calculators of sorts, constantly assessing your brand's worth against other choices. In a search-prone world, how do you consistently score a big 'yes' on your customers' worth-it assessment test? First, you must define your customers' next best alternative and then trump it.
But pinpointing the next best alternative is only half of the battle. The second task is to identify your brand's most compelling "worth it" message, and then anchor it in the minds of existing and potential customers. Sadly, many firms unwittingly commit 'worth it suicide' through one or more of the following communication traps:

·  They flood customers with notes about benefits, expecting them to sort through it all and home in on what really matters to them;
·  They have the flawed idea that customers are rational beings who can't resist a sensible selling proposition;
·  They depend on customers to 'read between the lines' to identify the brand's benefits;
·  They complicate the message and make it difficult for customers to tell their friends about it;
·  They think they know which benefits customers truly care about - but they don't.

The last item is the genius revelation. More than 60% of all home improvement projects begin on the Internet. Today’s knowledge access diminishes the role of the “source” to just a source of product, no longer a source of knowledge. Homeowners used to need the contractor because they knew so little about product and it’s specification. The Internet provides information they seek (right or wrong) without the contractor or dealer involved.

Travel Weekly, a well-read Travel Magazine for Agents, had two insightful editorials on: Customer acquired knowledge rather than agency imparted knowledge.

They expounded on the changes in social marketing where travelers would post their experiences. They’re everywhere now, because of, course, everyone wants to share opinions on travel and where they’ve been. Who needs a Travel Agent? Go to the Internet. Search and ye shall find.

The best reason travel agencies existed and prospered years ago was because they were the portal to information, and the portal to travel arrangements. Couldn’t do much of any of it without their access. No longer. You can find it, and you can book it. Travelers have already chosen and priced. All they need is booking and the paperwork.

This has happened to Home Improvement. A recent JD Powers study for Pella identified “Price” as the major decision ingredient. Many would think it’s because of the economy. In reality, it’s because the position of the home improvement contractor in the purchase decision has deteriorated to one of price. All the other historically key pieces of information, that used to only be available through the contractor, are now available on the Internet.brain
Okay, what should a Home Improvement Retailer do?

The antidote for this problem would be to find out what your customers know (or think they know), and tailor the message to confirm that you satisfy best what they know, and to offer the best source of what they don’t know. Find and add an additional level of crucial knowledge or service they haven’t looked at, but can be shown is as important or more important than most of the other considerations – such as Certified, Proper Installation that can provide in-service performance that equals tested performance, energy credits, financing, and third party warranties – among other possibilities.

Finally- think out of the box: Augurian, the Internet Marketing Service (, has been offering the unique service of providing the most used search terms in as small a geographic as down to a particular market.

Why is this important? Because if you don’t know what your customer is looking for, how do you provide the answers?

Among the nuggets you’ll find in their reports, consider this: Augurian has identified a major search term few window sellers address: Window Service and Repair. Make Service and Repair a major part of your Internet (and other) marketing. Once you get the lead, and get in the home, you’ll have a great opportunity to point out what’s wrong with their windows and doors and what you can do to replace the problems rather than repairing them. If you don’t do repair, team up with someone local who does.

While your customer may (think they) know more than you do you still have the advantage. You have the product and you can install it. In this way you can be smarter than your customer.

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