“Permission marketing” master Seth Godin makes a point today in his excellent blog that speaks volumes for entrepreneurs in any industry or niche: consumers have a long memory for abuse.
His post, “Just Because They Say It,” is about an emerging company in the cell phone industry—a business famous for its lousy customer service. This new company, says Seth, seems like an excellent, caring, high-quality enterprise. And, he adds, they have a climb ahead of them:
“You'd think there'd be a line out the door for a service like this one. But my guess is it'll be a slow growth curve.
“The challenge to a marketer that chooses to enter a market with a miserable history of customer abuse is obvious: you can claim to be better, to be unevil, benevolent even, but people just aren't prepared to believe you. It doesn't fit the consumer's worldview.
“You could be the honest politician or the quality contractor or the direct marketer with no fine print and no spam, but you better be prepared to prove it over and over before we believe you.”
Did you catch the operating phrase here? “The consumer’s worldview.”
You may not be in the cell phone business, but no matter what business you’re in, it’s a great point to keep in mind. If your prospective customer has a “worldview” that says that the product or service you’re offering might be unreliable, provide unfulfilled promises or treat them poorly—and alas, that description covers an awful lot of real estate—then it’s your job to present compelling evidence to the contrary.
And here’s the key point: Not in what you say, but in what you do. They’ll be watching. Closely.
Here’s the corollary that Seth doesn’t mention: in situations like this, once you do change someone’s worldview and gain their trust, you don’t just have a customer — you have a champion. — J.D.M.