Mitch Joel’s second book Ctrl Alt Delete is out today, and it’s a great one. Those who are familiar with Mitch’s work already know that his gift is in his ability to take deep thought and reflection on the trends, stories and experiences of today, and package it in a way that makes it easily digestible… without “dumbing it down”. In that spirit (and inspired by Mitch’s insights on the importance of the “Utilitarianism” that we provide to our clients), I want to share a new model I’ve been thinking about for a while.
As a side note, we’re hanging out with Mitch Joel on our #BizBkChat Twitter Hangout on June 10th. You’re welcome to join us! (More details here). Also, if you’d like to get your own free copy of Ctrl Alt Delete, tweet this. The eleventh person to tweet it gets a free copy. Easy-peasy. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled program:
Since the introduction of the big box stores, and the shift to us purchasing from faceless corporations, our interactions have been, for the most part, transactional. We bought from the cheapest supplier, and they sold to as many people as possible. If we go back to a time before the ubiquity of transactional relationships though, we see the importance (and pervasiveness) of utility as a key part of the relationship between buyer and seller. Whether that utility (which can be classified as anything that makes our lives better than the actual transaction itself) was something as personal as the butcher remembering what cut of meat you liked and having it ready for you with a smile, or as simple as an extra roll from the baker (a Baker’s Dozen), we did business with – we had loyalty to – “companies” that demonstrated they understood what were going through, and cared enough to act on it. It wasn’t scripted. It wasn’t manipulative, and the vendor didn’t quantify the ROI of that extra roll before he put it in your bag. He did it because he cared. Genuinely. The model looks something like this:
What Mitch elegantly explains in Ctrl Alt Delete is that for the first time in history, we as vendors (companies, suppliers et al.) have an opportunity to return to the days of genuinely caring. Of putting ourselves in the shoes of the consumer and providing them with tools and/or experiences that add value to their lives. When we can demonstrate that we truly understand our customers’ challenges, and then provide them with utility to ease that challenge, we build loyalty. Customers who are loyal to you are that much more likely to buy from you. It’s just that simple.
The example of “utility” that I use in my summary of Ctrl Alt Delete is that of Charmin’s Sit or Squat restroom finding app, but we don’t automatically have to go to technology when we think about how to provide utility. Tide created Loads of Hope as a very real utility vehicle for their consumer. Luxy Hair provides several hundred free tutorial videos via YouTube on how to “do” your hair… and they now have close to 1,000,000 YouTube Subscribers. Where do you think those subscribers go when they’re looking to actually purchase hair extensions (and other products)?
The point here is to stop looking for the immediate ROI in everything you do. As Gary Vaynerchuk has often said, “Stop acting like a 19 year old dude, trying to close on the first date.” (Gary is another good example of someone who provides utility. In his case through sheer sweat equity. He built his empire by being highly accessible, and ready to answer any questions about wine that you might have).
If you’re serious about building a long term, loyalty based relationship with your customers, then look for real ways to provide them with something useful… then give it away. Show them you care.
As another take on giving something of value and showing that you care, here’s a video absolutely worth watching.