Winning the Customer, Part VI1
By Frank J. Rich
When hungry, nothing satisfies more than to see food on the table. Americans are often referred to as the “McDonald’s Society” for our insistence on having our food when we want it, how we want it, and where we want it. We have been prepared (by design) to wear this habitual tracking wherever and for whatever we are shopping. This gratification response most easily and quickly overcomes the pain threshold in the buying process. (see Part Ill of Winning the Customer.)
Not coincidentally, efforts to excite “instant gratification” in us are rooted in science. Brain activity rises quickly when anticipating pleasure. When stimulated by a quick meal, or any form of quick delivery, the frontal cortex is very active waiting for the object of the stimulation. The mid-brain, or mesencephalon, ignites when we expect the thing we want to appear right away— the “instant gratification” we respond to best. Our desire for things, driven by want, need, or habit, leads us to consider the route to satisfying them. The process encourages anticipation, which in turn forms the imagery of receiving the “thing” in mind, including its delivery, unpacking, first sight, and exploration. When all take place in the moment, we give ourselves over to a purchase, the deal is “sealed.” This is the very process that prepares both the seller and buyer for a “good customer experience,” and relationship—the two most influential elements of a “retention revenue model.”
Clearly, so-called “brand companies” know the model well. Why else would amazon.com attach a “2-day FREE delivery” to every “Prime” purchase? Their system design to first sign you up is a kind of loyalty program. Using fundamental behavioral technique, they engage the customer in a “value exchange” with the promise to “deliver” on the promise, to his satisfaction. Consider the model: “wide choices, near 100 percent inventory, quick and free delivery, and guaranteed satisfaction.” It is so simple and prodigious a model that most believe it is uniquely an amazon.com creation. It is not! The early days of catalog mailings brought us the Horchow catalog, D.A.K. Innovations, Hammacher Schlemmer, Lands’ End, L.L. Bean, and countless others, that helped perfect the model and prove the elemental nuance that ensures success. Add store pick-up, where 40 percent of Home Depot’s online products are bought. Walmart, Lowe’s, Sears, etc., all make a trip to the store an easy way to get product faster; a system that provides benefits far beyond the pick-up of an ordered item. Few leave these stores with only the item they came for.
Why does this model work so well for sellers and buyers alike? Simply, we are problem solvers by nature. When confronted with a problem, the mind and body join on the path to solving it. When we present a want, need, or habit to a seller they do well to start the process of satisfying it, and quickly. Nothing works as well. Thus, the pain thresholds we are hoping to manage in the buying process are much better informed the moment we “believe” our needs are near at hand. Punto y final!
In your appeal to customers, use words like quick, instantly, free, new, in-stock, at your convenience, etc., etc.; keeping in mind the formula that excites buyers to action—choice, inventory, quick and free delivery, and satisfaction guaranteed. If you’re writing ads for others be sure to include a compelling (value) offer to encourage a visit to your website or store. This is where the magic begins. “Nothing happens until something moves.” (Albert Einstein)