Friday, August 13, 2010
What Maki Teaches Me About Marketing
Thursday was a long, but good, day. I woke up with the roosters as usual, read / wrote many emails, I had lunch with Geeta (hi!), left phone messages and met up with the awesome #FIJIHunt volunteer crew to talk about this weekend's scavenger hunt!
It was getting late so Amir, the Network Sommelier, convinced me to grab a bite at one of the two places we go for sushi... well, technically maki. It had been a while since we last visited and was close by so it was really a no brainer. We sit, place our menus on the left, place the ordering sheet on our right and mull our options.
We didn't immediately notice that the ordering sheet had way more options for maki on it than the menu listed. And, that the menu only had descriptions for its special maki and not for the entire list of maki. It was Amir who noticed first. He pointed out that there were maki on the ordering sheet not on the menu and that none had descriptions (e.g., what kind of Tuna, etc.). I pointed out that there was space on the bottom to write in the numbers for the special maki in the menu and said, "Well, I suppose the listed ones can be found in other places which is why there are no descriptions." We shrugged and ate.
Later last night, it occurred to me that just like this Amazon.com post, I should have listened more closely to Amir's point! Lucky for me, he doesn't gloat... Let's go back to what he pointed out. There were no descriptions of the rolls. It looked something like this (and they had prices listed to the right of each entry):
Shrimp Tempura Maki
Spicy Scallop Maki
Spicy Tuna Maki
Spicy Ebi-Q Maki
Many are sushi experts and know what's in all of of these rolls. You and the restaurant understand each other very well and it's a beautiful relationship. But what about the novices, first timers, willing to try and are curious? How do they navigate? Sure, they could and should ask, but there were over 30 listed on the sheet. That's a lot of asking. Let's try to imagine the uncertainty in ordering... You don't want your first timers even potentially uncomfortable because you want them to come back.
And, as a marketer, as a business person, as someone who wants to build relationships and referrals, you don't want your prospective customers to be potentially uncomfortable either. When we create business plans, marketing plans, strategies, you name it, we don't allocate a percentage to uncertainty and potential discomfort. I'm grossly paraphrasing Sandler sales training, but you never want your customer or potential customer to be "not okay" because they will never come back.
You want customers to be okay. And what I mean by that is they want to feel like they've made a smart choice, like they are getting value for the money, like they know they can rely on you to deliver a quality product. Customers want peace of mind and they want to feel like you understand them (and/or their needs) which is why you created that product or service that meets their needs now and in future. And, they want to know they can confidently come back for either more product or for answers to questions they might have.
Let's go back to that Amazon post for a moment... If you remember, my point then was the feeling of disconnect I had with Amazon because their email didn't acknowledge my purchase. Amazon is the shopping engine that makes recommendations for you while browsing and should also be the engine that knows your purchases so they don't recommend ones they consider better. After that email, I felt stupid. I thought I bought a bad milk frother. I regretted the $10 I spent.
We aren't in the business of creating confusion, discomfort or regret. We're in the business of creating value and, ultimately, relationships with our customers. Consequently, how we engage with current and prospective customers should never include a chance of confusion and disengagement.