Is a Yellow Rose, still a Rose? The art of knowing what your customer wants.

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and as usual, the color red was in abundance. So when I walked into an associate’s office this morning and saw a vase of beautiful yellow roses – I noticed. Besides just being different, it reminded me how much my grandmother loved yellow roses. In fact, she would rather receive yellow roses, instead of red ones, no matter what the occasion. Like all of us, my grandmother had a preference about things – and trust me, she would let you know. By listening to her stories and talking about things of importance in her life, I learned all about what she wanted – and did not want – from a relationship with her grandson. It did not take me long to see how a proper response to my grandmother’s needs was often rewarded with a special home-baked treat or other act of kindness.

So what does a yellow rose have to do with marketing? It comes down to having a dialog with our customers so we can offer something that meets their needs and matches their preferences. The more we know about them, the better we can offer products or services in a way they prefer. Technology, and especially the internet, is making it easier in many ways to engage an individual’s interest when they are actively looking for something we provide. It is much more challenging to get their attention in the first place and to engage them when they are not actively looking. Email and direct mail can push out lots of offers, but there is little feedback from those campaigns. This week it was certainly easy finding people selling red roses, but what if I was looking for yellow ones? Moreover, what if I just wanted candy?

We need to ask our customers. That dialog helps answer the questions, “what do you need,” “why do you care,” “how can I move you to action.” Having a voice of the customer program is a great start. Many programs allow you to sample, track and entice customer feedback. Our dialogue outreach channel is one great way to engage thousands of customers on a daily basis, not just to offer products or services, but also to speak with them about their needs and buying expectations. Because the dialogue channel is a two-way conversation, we can modify the offer as we learn about the customer’s situation. We can offer red, but substitute with yellow because we can ask them their preference. Even when the offer is declined during a given conversation, there is still information we learn about the customer that is used to increase the chances of hitting the mark during the next customer contact.

Dialogue outreach is marketing, one-to-one. It is simply a conversation between the company and the customer to uncover their needs and respond correctly. When the offer is relevant and the presentation professionally done, the customer ends up feeling special and valued. Their loyalty to the company grows and that frequently leads to more business. Constructive dialogue is a positive step in building the relationship. So, do you know what your customer’s favorite color is?


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