How to Hook Your Customers

Your job isn’t to create needs for your customers.  Your job is to make your customers aware of their existing needs.

Your job isn’t to create needs for your customers. Customers—humans—do a fine job of that on their own.

Your job is to make your customers aware of their existing needs. When you do this successfully, you trigger motivation in your customers. This motivation leads your customers to take action.

A Variety of Customer Needs

Some of these needs are innate or biological. All of us are born with them. They represent survival needs like food, water, breathing, shelter, and safety.

Humans don’t like feeling out of control. We constantly seek to gain better control of our environment.

Other needs are social, like the need for love, friendship, connection, or belonging.

Still others are learned or acquired in response to the culture or environment. These needs include external esteem needs—what other people think of you—and internal esteem needs—what you think of yourself. These needs are rooted in achievement—the need for personal accomplishment.

Needs Create Tensions

Your customers start off with an unfulfilled need, want, or desire.

When a need is unmet it creates internal tension. When you’re stuck in traffic after drinking a 16 ounce cup of coffee, the tension to find a restroom escalates with each passing moment.

When your colleague buys a new summer home and you don’t have one, your need to feel good in comparison to others (external esteem) can create an internal tension.

Tensions Build Drive

Internal tensions build energy within your customer. She might want a new lifestyle, a new way of expressing herself.

Her thoughts go to the object of desire. She notices things that she desires and doesn’t have. Each thought triggers an emotion. Each emotion adds to the energy reservoir.

This energy produces motivation.

Motivation Creates Behavior

When the energy behind the motivation builds to a sufficient level, it triggers a behavior.

Each customer’s behavior will vary based on their personality and life experiences. But, their behaviors stem from three primary sources:

  1. Previous Learning: the customer learned to act a certain way in a given situation by watching his parents in early childhood, people in his social network, or characters on television and in films.
  2. Cognitive Process: if the customer is consciously aware of the tension, he or she can evaluate how to resolve the tension by determining the best course of action or by simply letting the tension go.
  3. Archetypal Images: the internal tension can trigger specific emotions and images in the customer’s psyche, activating an archetype that leads to set patterns of behavior.

This behavior leads to fulfilling the need, thereby reducing the tension.

The Motivation Cycle Continues

The process, however, doesn’t end there. Although the customer’s tension may be reduced, it’s not eliminated. Their needs, as Maslow discovered, are never fully satisfied.

The tension of the unmet need builds energy once more. And the cycle continues.

Customer Needs Aren’t Static

Just like your needs and your criteria for fulfilling your needs tend to change over time, so do those of your customers.

When your customers achieve a particular goal they set new and higher goals. Your customers, just like you and your organization, are on their own developmental paths.

Your customers will always be changing. The question is: are you adapting and changing with them?

From Customer Insights to Business Growth

If you want to motivate your customers to do business with you, first understand their tensions. This means getting to know your customers on a deeper level.

Getting to know your customers’ tensions isn’t always easy. You can’t necessarily ask your customers directly. Many of our tensions are not conscious.

But what happens when you do uncover the answers? What are you going to do with these insights?

Will you use this knowledge to exploit them or elevate them?

Will you simply focus on closing the next sale or seek to build long-term loyalty?

These are big questions that only you, as the leader of your enterprise, are in a position to honestly evaluate and act upon.

The former choice (transaction/exploitation) is the default position.

The latter choice (elevation/loyalty) takes intention, discipline, and creative execution. It also leads to greater sustainability and long-term profitability.

Choose wisely.

A Big Mistake Most Retailers Make

Experiences are more meaningful than things.

A customer named Lisa walks into your store.

As she roams the aisles, her eyes gaze at an endless sea of colors and forms. She isn’t overwhelmed; she’s accustomed to endless choice.

Her mind is elsewhere. Something her daughter asked her this morning amuses her. She feels joy. Now she wonders if her husband kissed her before he left for work. A feeling of disconnection comes and goes.

Continue Reading

Beyond Loyalty Programs: 5 Ways to Create Loyal Customers

Determine what your business stands for. Then, relentlessly deliver on that promise.

Tim works down the street. He rushes into your store. Late for a meeting, he stepped into a puddle after lunch and his damp socks are bothering him.

He grabs the first pair of black mens dress socks he finds, pays for them, and hustles back to work.

Sandra takes a trip to your store after work. It’s her friend’s birthday and she needs the right gift. She always finds what she needs at your store.

Tim and Sandra are both your customers. They both contribute to your bottom line. But only one of them will lead to long-term profitability in up and down markets.

Continue Reading

How Cult Brands Draw Power from Their Enemies

Every revolution throughout history has a villain. Every great cause or movement has a power it draws strength from.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain,” Thomas Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence, “is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Jefferson goes on to list 26 items as evidence of the king’s tyranny. This evidence, which takes up more than 50% of the Declaration itself, was vital to the document’s purpose: to rally the people of the thirteen colonies, to stand united as one people.

And like all great leaders of Cult Brands, the founding fathers of the United States knew that in order to stand together, you need an archenemy to stand against.

Continue Reading

How to Get Customers to Choose You Instead of Your Competitors

Most agencies are shooting blindly at a moving target, and they don't even know it.

Your customer has many options.

They can meander into your store or stop by your competitors’.

On their devices, they can do the same or let Google offer dozens of other alternatives they might not even know exist.

How do they really make their decision on where and what to buy? More importantly, what can you do to influence their decision to choose you?

Continue Reading

Be A Better Brand Manager: Be Willing To Look Within

We all use a mix of rational and irrational criteria when making our purchasing decisions.

An integral part of building a successful retail brand is having a dedicated core of customers who love your store so much that they can’t keep themselves from recommending it to their family and friends.

What inspires this behavior?

Many brand managers are stymied by this question. They fall into an all-too-common mistake, acting as if their customers were an alien species of life, prone to completely incomprehensible behaviors that can’t possibly be understood, much less predicted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Continue Reading

10 Ways You May Be Boring Your Customers and Employees

companies often don’t realize they’re boring their customers and employees.

You’re probably doing many things right. But if you’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into habits that result in customers and employees becoming disinterested.

Interesting businesses aren’t just talked about more frequently in the media. Their businesses are alive. Energy flows throughout their organizations into the heart and minds of its customers. 

This open exchange between business and customer continually breathes new life into the enterprise. It also helps to grow the business.

Here’s a list of ten things companies often unintentionally do that bore their customers and employees and what interesting companies do differently. 

Continue Reading

How One Need Motivates Your Employees AND Your Customers

Cult Brands give their customers the sense that they belong.

Human beings have a powerful, instinctive need to belong.

Abraham Maslow was the first to highlight this basic human need. After people meet their physiological and safety needs, they seek a sense of love and belonging. And, when the need for belonging goes unmet, humans become unhappy and behave in unhealthy ways.

The need to belong influences your enterprise both internally and externally.

Continue Reading

The #1 Reason Most Vision Statements Fail

A company vision helps you think beyond the company of today in order to build the company of tomorrow.

You’ve got to think about ‘big things’ while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.Alvin Toffler1

The reason most vision statements fail is that they’re as statements. 

Instead of treating a company vision as a North Star—something that is used to guide decision-making—most companies attempt to codify the vision in a brief statement that’s treated as an endpoint. They treat a vision statement as a magic tool: it’s as if just by having one, they’ll be imbued with some preternatural power that supercharges their business.

But, company visions aren’t magical talismans. Company visions are tools.

Continue Reading